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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

People Power: Fighting for Peace

It’s tempting to open this review with something like ‘in these fractious times, a show about protest couldn’t be more timely, blah blah blah’. And yes: it does feel like dissent is hanging in the air more feverishly than ever right now. But if the IWM’s chronicle of anti-war activism in the UK makes anything clear, it’s that for all the current renewed interest in organised protest, it’s hardly ever lain dormant.

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Imperial War Museum , Kennington Until Monday August 28 2017

Making Nature: How we See Animals

Mental asylums. Mind-altering drugs. Dirt. The Wellcome Collection has carved out a rep for delivering exhibitions that are outlandish without ever being sensationalist. And while the premise of their latest show – the relationship between humans and animals – might not have the same WTF factor, it’s still just as quirky and enthralling.

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Wellcome Collection , Bloomsbury Until Sunday May 21 2017

Child's Play

There’s a deceptively simple premise to this show. Documentary artist Mark Neville has taken photographs of children playing around the world. There are children playing in Helmand and the Highlands. In Pittsburgh and Kenya and the Ukraine. Some of them are playing children’s games, some are part of a much more grown-up world of organised celebrations: parades, feasts and dances.

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Foundling Museum , Bloomsbury Until Sunday April 30 2017

Robots

An animatronic, wall-mounted baby greets you on entering the new Science Museum exhibition. Technically lifelike, it burbles, coos, wriggles its pudgy arms and – in a show of creepy-looking exhibits – manages to be pretty unnerving.

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Science Museum , Brompton Until Sunday September 3 2017

Imagine Moscow: Architecture, Propaganda, Revolution

‘The streets shall be our brushes, the squares our palettes,’ said the Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky in 1918, a year after the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia. And with the idea of the nation as a blank canvas in mind, this exhibition – one of several shows about revolutionary Russia in this centennial year – looks at six unrealised architectural projects.

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Design Museum , Kensington Until Sunday June 4 2017

Diana: Her Fashion Story

Diana’s fashion story – like her life story – ended just as things were getting good. Thrust into the limelight aged 19 as the fiancée to the heir to the throne, she only owned one dress: she had to learn about fashion and discover her sense of style in the public eye.

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Kensington Palace , Kensington Until Thursday August 31 2017

Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London

Lockwood Kipling – father of poet Rudyard – was one of those quintessentially Victorian jack-of-all-trades. An artist, designer, sculptor, teacher, curator and champion of the Arts and Crafts movement, he is largely responsible for the V&A's glittering collection of Indian cultural artefacts. This show will look at his remarkable legacy.

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V&A , Brompton Until Sunday April 2 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
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!