London’s Design Museum takes the pulse of the design world in its annual exhibition. WGSN’s Sarah Housley digs into what its selection means this year
Just ahead of its grand opening at its new home on Kensington High Street, London’s Design Museum has announced the nominees for the 2016 Designs of the Year award.
Now in its ninth year, the award and its exhibition have become a kind of ‘state of the nation’ for design – a fascinating way to gauge the current focus areas of the design world, as well as reflecting wider cultural and societal issues. The museum’s Design of the Year award has previously gone to projects as varied as a revolutionary medical chip (2015), a presidential campaign poster (2009), the 2012 Olympic torch, and a folding plug (2010) – showing just how vital design is to every aspect of our world and at every level of interaction.
This year, the Beazley Designs of the Year nominations – categorised into Graphics, Fashion, Transport, Digital, Product and Architecture – include a strong emphasis on design for social good, taking in the video game This War of Mine, a book whose pages double as water filters, and a flat-pack refugee shelter by the IKEA Foundation.
There are a number of projects focusing on design for health, including the online STI testing kit by SH:24, the DIY antibiotics research kit Post/Biotics, and OpenSurgery, a conceptual design that explores the case for open-sourced surgery – performed by robot surgeon.
The Graphics category sees a number of works exploring identity, from modern national identity – Neue‘s redesign of the Norwegian passport – to sociological insights into lifestyle, via Apple’s advertising campaign for Shot on iPhone 6.
In fashion, made-on-demand knitwear brand Unmade is included alongside Kids vs. Fashion, a project by Yolanda Dominguez that tasked kids with describing what they saw in fashion campaigns – with illuminating results.
It’s an important year for architecture, too, with the inclusion of the Tate Modern Switch House – a significant new addition to London’s urban fabric – alongside Milan’s gold-accented Prada Foundation and Bjarke Ingels’ new New York skyscraper, Via 57 West.
Also helping to define the year of 2016 are virtual reality experience In The Eyes of the Animals, and the design of David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar.
The winner of the Beazley Designs of the Year award will be announced on 26 January 2017; the major exhibition showcasing and exploring each nominated work will open on 24th November and run until 19th February 2017.