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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

The Gentlewoman #6 (Designed by Veronica Ditting)
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.

MA Collection (Designed by Craig Green)
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.

Olympic Cauldron (Designed by Heatherwick Studio)
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.

Little Printer (Designed by Berg)
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.

Child Vision Glasses (Centre for Vision in the Developing World and Goodwin Hartshorn)
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.

A Room for London (Designed by David Kohn Architects, photo: Charles Hosea)
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.

Wind Map (Designed by Martin Wattenberg and Fernanda Bertini Viegas)
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.

Medici Chair (Designed by Konstantin Grcic for Mattiazzi)
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.

Rain Room (By Random International)
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.

Donkey Bicycle (Designed by Ben Wilson; photo: John Selby)
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.

The Shard (Designed by Renzo Piano)
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

Hair by Sam McKnight

It’s a well-known trick that if you get a facelift and you want it to remain a secret, you should get a haircut at the same time because then everyone will attribute your fresh face to your new ’do – such is the transformative power of hair. 

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Somerset House , Temple Until Sunday March 12 2017

Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear

The V&A is a victim of its own success. Ever since the Alexander McQueen exhibition ‘Savage Beauty’, with its drama, tragedy and preposterous gorgeousness, the bar for their fashion exhibitions has been set impossibly high. While this is not another ‘Savage Beauty’, it is a thoughtful and interesting show. ‘Undressed’ tells the story of undies from the eighteenth century to more recent times. It reveals the ingenuity of underwear, from the missing bones at the back of crinolines which allowed women to sit, to corsets designed for horseriding – forerunners to the sports bra. 

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V&A , Brompton Until Sunday March 12 2017

Flaming June: The Making Of An Icon

No one liked Victorian art in the 1960s, when Sir Frederic Leighton’s masterpiece ‘Flaming June’ couldn’t reach its ultra-low estimate at auction. No one cared about it except for Puerto Rican industrialist Luis Ferré, who spotted it in a Mayfair gallery and snapped it up for just £2,000. 

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Leighton House Museum , Kensington Until Sunday April 2 2017

Real to Reel: A Century of War Movies

Like many of you, I’ve long wanted to see the Santa hat Jake Gyllenhaal wore on his knob in ‘Jarhead’ up close. So it’s a tribute to the scope of this not-massive show on the history of war in cinema that it gives you the chance to do just that. In 1916, cameramen were allowed to record the build-up and action of the Battle of the Somme. The resulting film was part documentary, part propaganda. 

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Imperial War Museum , Kennington Until Sunday January 8 2017

Astronomy Photographer of the Year

Once again you can expect to see remarkable feats of astrophotography at the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition. It’s a chance to see magical views of both our own night sky and of galaxies far, far away. The winning spacey visions come from dozens of professional and amateur snappers in various categories including ‘Planets, Comets and Asteroids’, ‘Stars and Nebulae’, ‘Galaxies’ and ‘Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year’ for under-16s.

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Royal Observatory , Greenwich Until Friday December 23 2016

The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined

Pink, heavy with embellishment, ruffled with an excess of fabric… This description fits both the beautiful denim and sweatshirt ensemble by Dutch design demigods Viktor & Rolf, and the dress that Katie Price wore to marry Peter Andre. So what makes one an accomplished piece of couture and the other a hand-wringing frocky horrorshow? The Barbican’s latest exhibition discusses just that in a dazzling show about taste and vulgarity in fashion. 

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Barbican Centre , Barbican Until Sunday February 5 2017

You Say You Want a Revolution: Records & Rebels 1966-70

Head back to the psychedelic 1960s and submerse yourself in the fashion, music, film, design and political activism that helped shaped contemporary life. The exhibition centres on the musicians that issued forth from the era as well as great performances gifted to the world by the likes of The Who, Sam Cooke and Jimi Hendrix.

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V&A , Brompton Until Sunday February 26 2017

Designology

Most Londoners spend more time commuting than they do taking lunch breaks, so it’s no wonder we’re all so obsessed with Transport for London, its systems, its history, its future and the many designs that have become London’s own heraldry. The London Transport Museum celebrates these things all year round, but ‘Designology’ is travel fandom in overdrive. 

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London Transport Museum , Covent Garden Until Sunday April 23 2017

Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery

Expect to see dazzling examples of luxury embroideries from the 12th to the 15th centuries at this exhibition highlighting the top-notch craftsmanship and artistic production of the time. Embroideries from the V&A's own collection, paintings, manuscripts, metalwork and sculpture will all be on show.

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V&A , Brompton Until Sunday February 5 2017
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!