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Designs of the Year: the contenders

We round up our favourite contenders for the award that celebrates the most inventive design from the past year

Designed by Veronica Ditting

Pink and grey are always cool together, as shown in this issue of The Gentlewoman which features legend of stage and screen Angela Lansbury as its cover star.

Designed by Craig Green

Rising fashion star Craig Green plays with ideas of utility and function for his Autumn/Winter 2012 collection. Inspired by luggage carriers, the large wooden structures have connotations of religious pilgrimage and dwarf the models to create abstract, menacing silhouettes on the catwalk.

Designed by Heatherwick Studio

With its 204 copper petals aflame like a giant fiery sea urchin, Heatherwick Studio's design for the 2012 Olympic Cauldron wowed the world at the 2012 Games opening ceremony. We reckon it’s flamin' brilliant whether it wins or not.

Designed by Berg

This happy little chap is designed to live in your home, bringing you news, puzzles and gossip from your friends. In a natty combination of new and old media, Little Printer enables you to use your smart phone to set up subscriptions, which it will gather together to create a mini newspaper.

Centre for Vision in the Developing World and Goodwin Hartshorn

Designed by The Centre for Vision in the Developing World these self-adjustable glasses allow the wearer to tweak the lenses until they focus clearly. The specs are based on a fluid-filled lens technology developed specifically for use by kids and young adults who have no access to opticians.

Designed by David Kohn Architects, photo: Charles Hosea

A Room for London (nominated in the Architecture category) is a wonderfully whimsical temporary hotel room designed by David Kohn Architects in collaboration with artist Fiona Banner in response to a competition organised by Living Architecture. It looks like a boat washed up by a freak high tide on the Thames and has proved a poetic addition to the Southbank skyline, playing host to numerous artists, musicians and thinkers as well as paying punters.

Designed by Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Bertini Viegas

The Wind Map shows the delicate tracery of wind flowing over the US using different shades to signify different speeds and directions in endlessly entrancing patterns.

Designed by Konstantin Grcic for Mattiazzi

Three types of wood – thermo treated ash, walnut and douglas – are joined at irregular angles to make the Medici Chair. We think it looks like a stylish update of the classic Adirondak chair and a pretty comfy perch.

By Random International

Random International’s Rain Room gives visitors the chance to experience how it might feel to control the rain. The trick is that due to the special sensors built into the structure, as the water pours down from the ceiling, you can stand in the middle of the shower and not get wet. During its Barbican Curve Gallery stint it offered a double-whammy of Britishness, being both weather-related and so popular that to see it you had first to stand in a lengthy queue.

Designed by Ben Wilson; photo: John Selby

It’s the steel beam that turns this compact bicycle, created by British industrial designer Ben Wilson, into a load-bearing donkey of a bike. Perfect for those gas bottle/terrier transportation dilemmas.

Designed by Renzo Piano

You can probably see it from your home, your office, and your bus on the way in to work. Towering over the rapidly regenerating London Bridge Quarter, Italian architect Renzo Piano’s omnipresent Shard has already made the transition from super-ambitious building project to hot new London landmark. Can it also scoop a ‘Design of the Year’ gong?

Polish your interesting specs and pause to marvel at the best design from the past twelve months. The Design Museum's Designs of the Year exhibition shows nominees in seven categories – architecture, digital, fashion, furniture, graphics, product and transport – and, as ever, it's a deliriously broad mix. Where else can you see The Shard, Angela Lansbury and a mini newspaper-maker all vying for a prize? Category champs and an overall winner – the gov.uk website – were announced on April 16, but why not tell us your favourite designery delight in the comments box below.

See more fantastic exhibitions in London

The British Museum of Food

Edible experiment magicians Bompas & Parr are opening (temporarily) the world's first cultural institution devoted to food and its history, evolution, science, sociology and art.

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1 Cathedral Street , South Bank Until Sunday January 24 2016

Cycle Revolution

The Design Museum is gearing up for an exhibition celebrating all things bike. As well as dozens of bicycles from some of the world's most respected contemporary manufacturers there'll be high-end kit and accessories and items belonging to famous cyclists such as Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Paul Smith. 

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Design Museum , Bermondsey Until Thursday June 30 2016

Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age

This exhibition tells the story of how Russia won the race and became the first country to explore the galaxy that lies beyond our own planet. See moving testimonies and memorabilia from some of space travel's biggest names and hear how its pioneers made lift off happen.

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Science Museum , Brompton Until Sunday March 13 2016

The Crime Museum Uncovered

This exhibition reveals previously unseen details and secrets from real-life, high-profile crimes such as the Acid Bath Murderer, the Great Train Robbery and the Millennium Dome Diamond Heist.

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Museum of London , Smithfield Until Sunday April 10 2016

Tibet’s Secret Temple

Discover the history of Tibertan Buddhist yogic and meditational practices at this major exhibition from the Wellcome Collection. Over 120 objects from across the world feature in the display.

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Wellcome Collection , Bloomsbury Until Sunday February 28 2016

Tintin: Hergé's Masterpiece

Everybody's favourite Belgian reporter, the bequiffed Tintin, first tasted adventure in a Brussels newspaper comic strip in 1929. Since then, he has starred with his dog Snowy in 24 books ('albums'), which have sold an extraordinary 200 million copies across the world. 

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Somerset House , Temple Until Sunday January 31 2016

The Fallen Woman

This exhibition brings together paintings, drawings and newspaper illustrations depicting the Victorian women who campaigned for the Foundling Hospital to take their illegitimate babies into care. Works by popular nineteenth-century artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Richard Redgrave and George Frederic Watts are included.

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Foundling Museum , Bloomsbury Until Sunday January 3 2016

The Fabric of India

Spanning a head-spinning time period from the third century to the present day, 'The Fabric of India' brings together 200 handmade textiles that reflect the country's cultural heritage. Highlights include an eighteenth-century sultan's tent, sumptuous historic costumes, and contemporary fashion by Manish Arora.

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V&A , Brompton Until Sunday January 10 2016

Egypt: Faith After the Pharaohs

This exhibition delves into a whopping 1,200 years of Egyptian history, spanning the transition to a primarily Christian population and then onto a majority Muslim population, with Jewish communities periodically thriving throughout.

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British Museum , Bloomsbury Until Sunday February 7 2016
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Visit more exhibitions in London


Daniel O'Farrell
Daniel O'Farrell

It has to be The Rain Room. Simply jaw-dropping. Sure, the aura of it is a lot more impressive to the reality, but it's still pretty darn good experience!