Back in January, we had published the shortlisted nominees in the Architecture category of the sixth annual Designs of the Year Awards, hosted by London's Design Museum. Today now the final winners across the seven categories—Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Furniture, Graphics, Product, Transport—were announced, too.
The 2013 award jury comprised Johanna Agerman Ross (Editor of Disegno); Amanda Levete (Architect); Olga Polizzi (Director of Design for Rocco Forte Hotels); Sarah Raven (Garden designer); Griff Rhys Jones (Actor and presenter); Nicolas Roope (Designer); and Ilse Crawford (Designer, Chair of the jury).
An exhibition is currently on view at the Design Museum until July 7 featuring all the nominations and also including the overall Designs of the Year 2013 winner which will be announced on April 16.
Architecture Category Winner: TOUR BOIS-LE-PRÊTRE, PARIS
Designed by Frédéric Druot, Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal
The transformation of this run-down tower block in northern Paris created an alternative approach to the physical and social redevelopment of decaying post-war housing.
Amanda Levete – jury member: "Druot, Lacaton and Vassal have re-invented a tower block in Paris, previously known colloquially as ‘Alcatraz’. A clever and elegant solution, far from the usual cosmetic approach that fools no-one. Residents left for work in the morning returning in the evening to a bigger, light filled apartment. Completed at half the cost of demolition and new build, this is an exemplary lesson in harnessing clever thinking and ingenuity to transform neglected parts of our cities – for me that is what good design is all about."
Griff Rhys Jones – jury member: "The La Tour Bois-Le-Prêtre is a striking project because its radical rethinking and recycling of architecture, provides a new solution in a much needed area which so many times becomes over complicated."
Digital Category Winner: GOV.UK WEBSITE
Designed by Government Digital Service
The new Gov.uk website aims to combine all the UK Government’s websites into a single site. The project could save the public £50 million a year by building a platform to make web publishing simpler for government and delivering more services online.
Ilse Crawford – chair of the jury: "Access and information are critical and particularly challenging in the public domain. Design, in this nominee, has been used to create a new reality for the user, a tool that can push the user experience forward, making design more apparent to the public and raising the question ‘what is design?'"
Nicolas Roope – jury member: "As internet design becomes more and more complex and layered, it necessarily also becomes more user-unfriendly. Design in this instance has created a logical system that can hugely improve the experience and access for the broad church who rely on its content and applications. Government websites around the world exclude huge swathes of their constituents due to complexity and confusion in their internet infrastructure. But by unifying all sites into one coherent system and harmonizing content and functionality across multiple platforms and devices, GOV.UK has created a design that is inclusive for all. Design really feels like a hero in this story. Smart and creative design thinking, process and craft have all coalesced to create something exemplary, yet understated, that goes beyond a superficial visual aesthetic and responds squarely to it's singular purpose."
Ben Terrett - GOV.UK: "Martha Lane Fox, the Government’s Digital Champion, wrote a report recommending that the thousands of websites operated by central government be rationalized onto one single domain, be redesigned to deliver truly web native services and be – for the first time – focused on the needs of users rather than the needs of the government. GOV.UK is that domain.
GOV.UK replaces big user-facing sites like Directgov and Business Link to incorporate all government departments - from the Foreign Office to Ministry of Defence. It’s been built at a fraction of the cost, in a fraction of the time, via open-source codes shared on GitHub. Everything has been redesigned and rewritten to make it simpler, clearer and faster using web fonts, responsive design and Margaret Calvert’s New Transport typeface."
Fashion Category Winner: DIANA VREELAND: THE EYE HAS TO TRAVEL
Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland
Called 'the Empress of Fashion’, Diana Vreeland’s (1903-1989) impact on fashion and style in her time was legendary. With 350 illustrations, including many famous photographs by Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and other major fashion photographers, this film shows fashion as it was being invented.
Ilse Crawford – chair of the jury: "She took fashion design to another level, reaching a wider audience and creating a greater understanding of the fashion world. So many of her achievements are taken for granted, for example the fact that she brought fashion into the context of the museum. And she never stopped. The longevity of her career is quite astounding."
Griff Rhys Jones – jury member: "This year the fashion category contained many icons of the fashion world but we felt that this documentary gave us a chance to recognise and celebrate a lifetime of contributions from Diana Vreeland."
Furniture Category Winner: MEDICI CHAIR
Designed by Konstantin Grcic for Mattiazzi
Three types of wood - thermo treated ash, walnut and douglas - are joined at irregular angles, resulting in a comfortably reclined seat.
Ilse Crawford – chair of the jury: "Furniture design is in a crisis in the current age, so many students no longer study furniture design as the industry asks them to create pieces at such a pace that they can’t give them the care and dedication that they need. Mattiazzi show the commitment to making a piece that can be used for life and that is the only way to get well designed furniture that can compete with the classics."
Konstantin Grcic – Medici Chair for Mattiazzi: "Designing for Mattiazzi was like a personal time travel. It took me all the way back to my professional roots. At the very beginning of my career, I was trained as a cabinet-maker. Working with wood is what I learned from scratch. It is where it all started for me.
Right from the beginning, I was looking for a distinct grammar for my design, a language that would express the characteristics of wood. I liked the idea of working with planks. They signify the very beginning of the production process – a tree trunk that is cut into slices. I like the way in which a carpenter joins wood. It is immediate and direct. The construction remains visible and easy to read. Structure turns into form."
Graphics Category Winner: VENICE ARCHITECTURE BIENNALE IDENTITY
Designed by John Morgan Studio
Spoken in a Venetian dialect, the stencil text is contained in a white plaster panel and roughly framed in black. The signs were made to blend in with the fabric of existing Venetian signage.
Ilse Crawford – chair of the jury: "Quiet is the new loud. The invisible hand of design. Graphic design that is clear, that is derived from its context and doesn't try to compete with it and extremely well done. Refreshing."
Nicolas Roope – jury member: "We thought the Venice Biennale work was as classic as it was clever. Just as architecture must negotiate it's context, John Morgan Studios sensitivity and subtly reconstituted the unique Venetian wayfinding vernacular, creating something subtle, beautiful and rich."
Product Category Winner: KIT YAMOYO
Designed by ColaLife and PI Global
ColaLife works in developing countries using Coca-Cola’s distribution channels to carry ‘social products’ such as anti-diarrhea kits to save children’s lives. Slotting perfectly in the gaps left in a Coca-Cola crate, the kit effectively piggy backs on existing distribution channels to deliver life saving medicine.
Olga Polizzi – jury member: "A truly brilliant idea, that is a collaboration between an independent nonprofit organization and Coca Cola. Using Coca Cola’s distribution channels simple medicines, in cleverly designed wedge shaped containers that fit in between the Coca Cola bottles, can be delivered at no cost to remote areas and developing countries. Anywhere that a bottle of Coca Cola can be bought lives can now be saved."
Simon Berry – ColaLife: "How can it be right that Coca-Cola reaches remote rural villages in Africa, yet simple lifesaving medicines for children don't? Instead of blaming the global giant, ColaLife studied its success - showing that if you design an affordable, desirable health product for the poor, create a demand, and make it profitable for local entrepreneurs to fulfill that demand, then lives can be saved.
In sub-Saharan Africa, it's often simple things that kill children: diarrhea kills more under 5s than HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Measles put together. The public sector there consistently fails to get essential medicines to remote rural areas where 1 in 9 children die before their 5th birthday; contrast that with 1 in 185 in the UK. Yet you can get Coca-Cola, and other commodities that people want, just about everywhere. Why?
ColaLife has drawn its hypothesis from studying Coca-Cola's success: You can get a product or service to anywhere in the world if you make it affordable and desirable and make it profitable to fulfill the resulting demand.
We are testing this hypothesis with 'Kit Yamoyo' an anti-diarrhea kit, carefully designed to meet the needs of the poor, sold in retail shops in remote rural communities. We've created what is called a 'value chain' so that our kit piggy backs on the existing supply chains that travel to remote rural communities.
From a standing start in the middle of September, when nobody knew what a Kit Yamoyo was, we have sold 15,315 kits into 2 very remote parts of rural Zambia. This will save children's lives and in the process contribute to the livelihoods of rural retailers and take a burden off the already over-stretched rural health centers."
Transport Category Winner: MORPH FOLDING WHEEL
Designed by Vitamins for Maddak Inc.
The wheelchair re-invented. For the first time the wheels on a wheelchair are able to fold flat and fit in storage compartments of airplanes and small cars. When folded, this wheel takes up only 12 liters of space, compared with 22 liters when it is circular and in use. The wheel has been developed with support from the Royal College of Art, the Wingate Foundation and the James Dyson Foundation.
Griff Rhys Jones – jury member: "It’s amazing that no one has re-invented the wheel, which is a testament to the achievement in this nomination. This is a design that will actively help wheel chair users in many aspects of their lives."
Ilse Crawford – chair of the jury: "Often it’s the obvious things that don’t get addressed. This is one that is so good it seems self evident. You can't believe it hasn't been done before."
Duncan Fitzsimons of Vitamins – Morph Folding Wheel: "You can't re-invent the wheel’ is an assumption that causes big problems with the design of folding bikes and folding wheelchairs. It's why folding bikes have tiny wheels and it's why folding wheelchairs can only collapse down small, once the wheels have been removed. This doesn't really help that much, as you're still left with two huge round wheels to deal with separately.
At Vitamins we love to create wonderful, exciting new things, and in order to do that sometimes you have to identify the real issue or opportunity that everyone else seems to be deliberately ignoring. In this case that meant setting out to try and literally re-invent the wheel. Now the design process is done, a Folding Wheelchair Wheel is a real thing that actually exists and that people can buy and use. And this is really exciting for us, because we've introduced something completely new into the world and as more and more people get to see them and try them out, we are hearing more and more new stories about what these wheels do to help people in their everyday lives."
Images courtesy of Design Museum.