Now in its eighth year, Designs of the Year celebrates design that promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year. The international awards and exhibition showcase projects from the previous year, across six categories: Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Product, Graphics, and Transport. We went to see the exhibition at the Design Museum in London and here you can discover the category winner projects.

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Design experts, practitioners and academics from across the world were asked by the Design Museum to suggest potential projects, from which the museum has selected 76 for nomination and display in the exhibition. A specially selected jury chose a winner for each category and an overall winner.





Designs of the Year’s wide-ranging scope provides a snapshot of the contemporary concerns of the design world, with nominees coming from over thirty countries across five continents. A strong theme for 2015 is the desire to harness new technologies to solve long-standing problems, as seen in projects as diverse as the world’s first lab for 3D printing prosthetic limbs, and the Moocall sensor which is connected to a cow’s tail and texts the farmer when calving is imminent.



UC Innovation Center by ELEMENTAL_01


ARCHITECTURE: UC Innovation Centre

ANACLETO ANGELINI – Santiago, Chile – Designed by ELEMENTAL

Santiago’s weather inspired the architects to substitute the contemporary typical glass skin, responsible for serious greenhouse effect in interiors, for a thermal mass on the perimeter that avoids undesired heat gains. Open air squares are multiplied throughout the building’s entire height and a permeable atrium core is proposed so that while circulating vertically, people could see what others are doing. As well as creating the right environment for knowledge-creation, this design has reduced energy costs by two-thirds.

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DIGITAL: The Ocean Cleanup

Designed by Boyan Slat (CEO and founder), Jan de Sonneville PhD (Lead engineer), Erwin Zwart (Designer)

Calling itself ‘the largest clean up in history’, this project aims to develop environmentally friendly, large-scale, and efficient removal of plastic pollution from aquatic ecosystems. Founded by Dutch environmentalist Boyan Slat after he encountered more plastic bags than fish while diving in Greece at the age of 16, the proposal takes the form of a network of floating barriers which cause natural currents to push plastics towards a central platform, allowing for efficient extraction and storage of concentrated plastic for transportation to land. The Ocean Cleanup recently raised over US$2 million through a crowd funding campaign, which the organisation plans to use for the construction and testing of large-scale operational pilots.


FASHION: Thomas Tait AW13/14

Designed by Boyan Slat (CEO and founder), Jan de Sonneville PhD (Lead engineer), Erwin Zwart (Designer)

Central St Martins graduate Tait presented a technically and aesthetically skilled collection which combined colour, cut and materials with vision and confidence.


GRAPHIC: Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables

Designed by Marcel for Intermarché

A campaign across film, print, billboards, radio, in-store, PR, social media to rehabilitate the imperfect fruits and vegetables by celebrating the beauty of the ridiculous potato, the hideous orange or the failed lemon. The idea was to show people that, though they might by ugly looking, there are as good as any others, but 30% cheaper.

Combining microfabrication techniques with modern tissue engineering... by Wyss Institute at Harvard University

PRODUCT: Human Organs-On-Chips

Designed by Donald Ingber and Dan Dongeun Huh

Scientists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have adapted computer microchip manufacturing methods to design and fabricate crystal-clear microdevices lined with living human cells that mimic the complex tissue structures, functions and mechanical motions of whole organs; they are essentially living ‘Human Organs-on-Chips’. Each Organ-on-a-Chip models natural tissue structures and mirrors the dynamic mechanical behavior of internal organs. Chips can also can be linked to form a ‘Human Body-on-Chips’, which can be analyzed to learn how drugs impact each organ as they are distributed and metabolized throughout the body. Cells from individual patients or from genetically-related populations can be used to inhabit these Organs-on- Chips to build mimics of their organs, a tactic that promises to advance personalized medicine, accelerate drug discovery and decrease development costs.

Google Self-Driving Car. Photo by Gordon De Los Santos

TRANSPORT: Google Self-Driving-Car

Designed by YooJung Ahn (Lead Industrial Designer), Jared Gross (Industrial Designer), Philipp Haban (Industrial Designer)

Google’s new vehicle has been designed to drive itself at the push of a button. The design is intended to be simple, friendly, and practical, with some surprises, including a lack of steering wheel or pedals. Google plans to use the vehicles to test their newest software & hardware and develop the technologies for use in the real world.

Image credits: Mirren Rosie




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