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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

1/11
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.

2/11
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.

3/11
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.

4/11
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.

5/11
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.

6/11
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.

7/11
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.

8/11
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.

9/11
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.

10/11
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.

11/11
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

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

More than 200 examples of the late designer's astonishingly original works. Responding to record-breaking ticket sales the V&A will open the exhibition throughout the night for the last two weekends of its run (Jul 24-26 and Jul 31-Aug 2).

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V&A Until Sunday August 2 2015

Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950s-1990s

This display has been extended to the end of July. It showcases a variety of photographic responses to black British experience. The pieces have recently been acquired as part of a collaborative project with the Black Cultural Archives which aims to increase the number of black British photographers and images of black Britain in the museum.

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Windrush Square Until Friday July 31 2015 Free

Alice in Cartoonland

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first publication of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', this exhibition examines how cartoonists have re-imagined the book's characters. Work from the likes of Ralph Steadman, Nicholas Garland and EH Shepard features alongside political cartoons from Steve Bell and Martin Rowson.

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Cartoon Museum Until Sunday November 1 2015

Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

The V&A’s next summer blockbuster exhibition is all about shoes – and we aren’t talking ballet flats, cosy boots or erm… Crocs. 'Pleasure and Pain' focuses on the transformative power of extreme footwear, exploring the agony and ecstasy that a shoe might inspire. Over 200 pairs of shoes past and present have been gathered from all around the world.

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Victoria & Albert Museum Until Sunday January 31 2016

Riviera Style: Resort & Swimwear Since 1900

The seaside has played host to some most extraordinary fashions over the years. Enjoy a full rundown of a century's worth of beach outfits at this exhibition of clothes for leisure, including such out-there gems as beach pyjamas, palazzo pants and burkinis.

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Fashion and Textile Museum Until Sunday September 13 2015

Designs of the Year

Awesome architecture, futuristic fashion, fun furniture, groovy graphics: all these and more are celebrated in the Design Museum’s annual Designs of the Year awards and accompanying exhibition. As the museum likes to boast, someday this stuff is going to be on display in other museums. We never miss this show. Every iteration turns up products that are life-saving, lovely to look at or just so clever you really, really wish they’d been your idea.

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Design Museum Until Sunday August 16 2015

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Celebrating its fiftieth year, the renowned competition exhibition returns to with images of the most extraordinary species on the planet captured by professional and amateur photographers.

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Natural History Museum Until Sunday August 30 2015

Prize for Illustration: London Places and Spaces

The brief for this competition was to capture something of London's unique character using the city's places and spaces as inspiration. There sure are plenty of those to choose from, so visitors to this exhibition of the top 100 entries can expect to see an imaginative range of artworks, each of which will be accompanied by an explanation of the place or space which inspired it.

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London Transport Museum Until Sunday September 6 2015

Cravings: Can Your Food Control You?

There's not a meal that goes by that doesn't involve some kind of decision based on what you do or don't fancy eating, but is it our own appetite influencing those decisions, or has the food tricked us into it? This exhibition of personal stories, curious objects and cutting-edge science and technology looks at how food affects our bodies, brains and habits. Find out how our cravings are developed by brains and gut bacteria, take part in neurogastronomy experiments, compare how baby animals react to sweet foods and learn more about the world's first poo bank.

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Science Museum Until Friday January 1 2016 Free
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Visit more exhibitions in London

Comments

1 comments
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!