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

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

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 Saturday August 29 2015

Inspired by Soane: I Found This and Thought of You…

An A-class group of artists, architects and fashion designers have created original postcard artworks for this charity exhibition at Sir John Soane's Museum. Big names including Manalo Blahnik, Christopher Bailey, Zaha Hadid and Antony Gormley have contributed to the show, inspired by 100 objects from the collection which aren't usually on display.

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Sir John Soane's Museum Until Saturday June 6 2015 Free

Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime

Our picture may be somewhat skewed as a result of compulsive viewing of various TV crime series but, every which way you carefully inspect it, forensics is a damn cool use of science. This exhibition of original evidence, archival material, photographs, film footage, specimens, forensic implements and artworks will look at the history, art and science of forensic medicine.

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Wellcome Collection Until Sunday June 21 2015 Free

Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation

Considering its culture dates back around 55,000 years, we don't get many chances to learn more about indigenous Australia. This exhibition will use objects from the British Museum's collection to tell its story, focusing on complex spiritual relationships with the natural world and the intimate knowledge of the country's unique and diverse environments.

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British Museum Until Sunday August 2 2015

All of This Belongs to You

Opening just before the General Election (and open late Thursday May 7 for election night), this exhibition looks at the role of public institutions in contemporary life and at what it means to be responsible for a national collection.

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V&A Until Sunday July 19 2015 Free

Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style

Rationing didn't only mean a dowdy dinner table – World War II's austerity measures affected clothing too, leaving the British public to adapt their fashions accordingly. Clearly make-do-and-mend was especially effective when it came to clothes, for the results were more casual styles and some ingenious renovating and recycling. This exhibition provides insight into the home lives of men and women during wartime Britain, showing their sense of identity and the ways in which they coped with having their home comforts restricted.

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Imperial War Museum Until Monday August 31 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

The Alice Look

Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland' turns 150 in 2015, and to mark the anniversary this exhibition will bring together garments, photographs, rare editions and illustrations which show how Alice has both followed and influenced fashion over the decades. As well as representing the character's original look, the exhibits will include modern interpretations of it, such as Annie Liebowitz's photographs for US Vogue and pop videos from Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne and Aerosmith.

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V&A Museum of Childhood Until Sunday November 1 2015 Free

Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea

Find out whether life really is better down where it's wetter in this exhibition of images and information collected during the three-year long Catlin Seaview Survey of coral reefs. A live coral reef and a virtual dive will give visitors a thorough view of these natural underwater masterpieces.

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Natural History Museum Thursday August 6 2015 - Sunday September 13 2015
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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!