From designer lightbulbs to Japanese-style Swedish food, the annual Brit Insurance Designs of the Year seek to recognize the most innovative, interesting and forward-looking new work in design of all kinds from around the world.
Chaired by Design Museum founder Stephen Bayley with a jury that includes Bill Moggeridge of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the awards are nominated by group of internationally respected design experts, curators, critics, practitioners and enthusiasts.
In the Furniture category, the Branca chair, designed by Industrial Facility and manufactured by Italian brothers Mattiazzi was intended to look familiar to the eye. Mimicking the natural growth patterns of twigs and branches, the Branca backrest and armrests seem to grow seamlessly from just one piece of wood. Carved robotically with work overseen by expert craftsmen at the Mattiazzi factory in Italy, the Branca chair complies to all modern expectations, light enough to carry, easy enough to stack and transport.
Hulger & Samuel Wilkinson won in the Product category for Plumen 001, the world’s first designer lightbulb. Designed by Samuel Wilkinson and Hulger, the lightbulb is formed of two interwoven glass tubes that curve organically thus creating a new silhouette from every angle. Using 80% less energy and lasting approximately 8 times longer than a typical incandescent bulb, Plumen aims to be sold as a economical design object, challenging the established archetype of an economical bulb.
In the Architecture category, the Open Air Library by KARO Architekten was selected. The development began five years ago when the community of Magdeburg staged an intervention in an abandoned district that formally housed a public library. A 1:1 scale model was developed using beer crates and overwhelming pubic support was shown with book donations that totalled more than 20,000. Occupying a central outdoor space, the Open Air Library operates a trusting open shelves policy where residents are free to borrow books 24 hours a day.
Homemade is Best by Forsman & Bodenfors for Ikea won in the Graphics category. The Swedish Interactive graphics agency was nominated for Best cookery book and iPhone app produced for their multinational client of 15 years, IKEA. As part of a larger marketing campaign for Swedish brand, Forsman & Bodenfors realised that excitement for a new IKEA kitchens could be harnessed by influencing the consumers idea of life within it.
An introduction to Swedish baking, Homemade is Best presents 30 recipes in an innovative new fashion. Taking inspiration from Japanese minimalism these carefully composed graphic still lifes bring the ingredients centrestage; the result being a playful new look at the traditional presentation of cookery.
In the Fashion category, Uniqlo +J, the affordable collection by eminent German designer Jil Sander for Japanese high street retailer Uniqlo was awarded. The collection was met with critical acclaim when launched in October 2009. Autumn/Winter ‘10, as nominated for this year’s Fashion Award by Paula Reed; “set a new standard for accessible luxury” offering impeccably tailored basics to the masses by the designer noted for her reductionist, minimalist styling.
‘+J concentrates on a well fitted, sculptured cut, quality materials, careful detailing, and an overall subdued sophistication. Once you establish such a key wardrobe, you will find that the rest is easily combined. A beautiful coat or a white shirt works with almost anything, but actually needs almost nothing else. I called the ideal I have in mind, uniforms for the future’
Additional winners included Mike McCue & Evan Doll with 'Fipboard' in the Interactive category and Barclays Cycle Hire in the Transport category.
These winners will be presented at an awards dinner on March 15.