The Designers of the Future Award recognizes designers working in innovative ways or using new materials, new processes, or new approaches. The goal of the Award, launched in 2006 at Design Miami/ Basel, is to offer the best representatives of the next generation of design creatives the opportunity to present newly commissioned work to a powerful audience of collectors, dealers and journalists, drawing attention to design practices that exemplify new directions for the future of the field.
This year, Design Miami/ Basel partnered with W Hotels in presenting the awards. This alliance will allow Design Miami/ Basel to expand the benefits that the award brings to the winners, including the chance for the commissioned projects to have a life after the fair through practical applications within W’s sites around the world.
The 2010 Designers of the Future Awards winners are: Beta Tank, Graham Hudson, rAndom International, and Zigelbaum & Coelho. These four winners were chosen by a selection committee comprising of Ambra Medda, Director, and Wava Carpenter, Associate Director, Design Miami/; Mike Tiedy, SVP, Global Brand Design & Innovation, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.; and Marcus Fairs, Editor-in-Chief, Dezeen.com.
While the Designers of the Future Award has always featured unique and ground- breaking design work embodying the most progressive attitudes of each year, this year’s award pushes the drive towards experimentation further than ever. Exploring design work created at the very edges of the discipline, the winners will look beyond pure product and furniture design to embrace conceptually and technologically vanguard work that bridges multiple areas of practice including art, sociology, and science.
“This year, we wanted to emphasize recent advancements in novel ‘design thinking’ that involve rich intersections between a variety of creative fields while exploring modes of design work that are particularly interactive” comments Design Miami/ Associate Director Wava Carpenter. She adds, “The common thread shared by the four diverse award winners consists of experiential and cross-disciplinary approaches that prompt visitors to participate and re-think the definitions of design practice.”
Berlin-based studio Beta Tank exemplifies the “design-for-debate” strand of contemporary design practice. For their commissioned project in Basel, Beta Tank will tackle the complex debate over the differences between art and design. The duo will harness aspects of international tax and shipping laws to question and reveal some of the arbitrary assumptions underlying the policies of the legal bureaucratic entities that regulate cultural production. The studio will create a series of ‘blended’ objects – partly hand-made, partly machine-made – that will be delivered to the fair in separate shipments, incurring different customs charges along the way. “This project is a reflection of how we work simultaneously in the realms of the theoretical and the practical,” states Beta Tank’s Eyal Burstein. “We want to understand how true innovation and creativity, that which crosses boundaries and moves into the unknown, can be actively pursued and matched within existing categories and assumptions about business practices and results.”
Although he comes from the art world, Graham Hudson is planning to create the most practical project for his award commission. Hudson has taken up a challenge posed by W Hotels to create a modular bar/DJ booth that can be installed temporarily at sites around the world – a sort of ‘party to go.’ Hudson jumped at this opportunity because he has a great interest in the demise of the 1990s club
scene in London, and sees this project as a way to memorialize a pre-internet, socially-dynamic era. “I’m not a designer, but I use a lot of raw and ready-made materials in public spaces, so there’s a lot of crossover; design and architecture is very much part of my work’s language, so it’s great that this side has been acknowledged – and a nice reminder of design’s non-fixed boundaries…” says British artist, Graham Hudson. Hudson’s work has taken many forms but consistently demonstrates how today’s creatives are forging new paths through site-specific installations meant to promote social interaction and playful engagement with repurposed materials.
London and Berlin-based studio rAndom International represents a strand of creatives who employ cutting-edge technology and digital programming to develop interactive installations that combine the aims of both art and design. According to co-founder Hannes Koch, “Our work has a function: to generate a response.” For Design Miami/ Basel, rAndom International will create a new installation composed of lights that have been programmed to “dance” in response to the visitor’s body movements. Koch adds, “We are curious about the behavior of objects and want to reveal the hidden beauty and poetry in technology.”
For Design Miami/ Basel, Zigelbaum & Coelho will create “Six-Forty by Four- Eighty,” an interactive installation of thousands of graspable, luminescent pixels controlled by remote light brushes. The project blurs the boundaries between the digital and the physical while presenting a new solution for controllable, ambient lighting for interior spaces. W Hotels sees a fit between this project and the brand’s ‘Living Room’ approach to lobby areas, in which people are encouraged to hang out, socialize and enjoy their surroundings. “Primed by the biases of our visual culture, the pixel has ascended as the digital realm’s primary ambassador, but it has been a deceitful emissary,” says Jaime Zigelbaum. “By transposing the pixel from the confines of the screen into the physical world, focus is drawn to the materiality of computation itself, and new forms for design emerge from the exposed spaces between media.” Marcelo Coelho adds, “Our participation means that we, the bastard children of art, design, engineering, and human-computer interaction, are invited into the family home. And just in time to get to work. Computational material is new again.”