Beazley Designs of the Year is a blueprint for our turbulent year

Curated by Emily King, the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition captures how design has responded to social justice, climate change and Coronavirus

Housing No.8 (Laboratorio de Vivienda)
Housing No.8 (Laboratorio de Vivienda) by MOS Architects, an architecture nominee
(Image credit: press)

For most of us, 2019 feels like a bit of a faded memory, but inside the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition at Design Museum London, it all comes rushing back. Announced today, the shortlist captures all of the peaks and troughs of those 12 months, and unravels as the poignant rollercoaster it has been.

This year’s exhibition was curated by Emily King, who described the showcase as a ‘portrait of the year through design,’ referencing the social justice themes throughout. Taking centre stage in the exhibition is the stab-proof vest that was worn by Stormzy, and designed by Banksy. This was a powerful symbol that addressed structural racism in a visceral way at Glastonbury, where the musician was the first Black British artist to headline the Pyramid stage. Next to this on display is the non-conforming typeface and graphic design of Kiss My Genders, an exhibition at Hayward Gallery that explored artists that engage with identity politics.

‘This is not a show that you just have to look at, it needs words,’ King comments on the mass of descriptions, demonstrations and taglines posted throughout the show. Examples of this flow through the past year’s efforts in bouldering towards a more circular future – projects like Indus, a wall that cleans wastewater, a brick made from 90 per cent recycled construction and demolition waste, and a reusable swap were given recognition.

Biomimetic Neck Collar by Luke Hale

(Image credit: press)

Goldsmith Street, Norwich by Mikhail Riches

Above, Goldsmith Street, Norwich by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley. Below, Biomimetic Neck Collar by Luke Hale

(Image credit: press)

Looking to the optimistic power of design are projects like energy efficient social housing Goldsmith Street Norwich, the rapidly built Leishenshan Hospital that was created in response to Coronavirus in Wuhan, and a Self-Sanitising Door Handle by Sum Ming Wong and Kin Pong Li. Healthcare is certainly a theme throughout too, and included is Luke Hale’s 3D printed Biomimetic Neck Collar, and accessible Judy emergency kits. Injustices in the medical field are also acknowledged with Women and Heart Disease: Physician Bias and AI – a set of simple illustrations that highlight the lack of diagnosis women receive.

Many social media sensations made the list too with Atlanta-based Jalaiah Harmon’s dance challenge on TikTok (which you can practice inside the exhibition) and Central St Martin’s graduate Fredrik Tjærandsen’s balloon dresses that flooded Instagram. Meanwhile, The Sari Series, a non-profit digital anthology of 80 films of ways to drape a sari by Border&Fall showed a great example of an initiative that kept people busy over lockdown.

The showcase is organised chronologically, reading like a blueprint of 2019-2020 with page numbers and a blue and white identity throughout. This visual narrative was created by London-based studio design kollektiv, who built scaffolding to hold up the displays – many of these in 3 metre billboard-style boards, spelling 12 months of chaos and hope.

Stormzy’s stab-proof vest

(Image credit: press)

Judy emergency kits

Above, Stormzy’s stab-proof vest by Banksy. Below, Judy emergency kits by Simon Huck, Josh Udaskin and Red Antler with various manufacturers

(Image credit: press)

Like a book, the exhibition ends with a clear written ‘Conclusion’ that ‘there are concrete ways to build a healthier, kinder and more equal world.’ While the show climaxes in January 2020, you can’t help but think of the mound of change experienced throughout this year. Priya Khanchandani, head of curatorial and interpretation at Design Museum recognises that many of these nominations were realised before the pandemic became a global issue – ‘the exhibition brings to the fore broader phenomena that have been underscored by the pandemic, such as climate change, activism and inequality,’ she says. ‘I don’t think that design can or should gloss over that but there is optimism to be found in the ways in which design is giving voice to new narratives and questioning the status quo.’

Winners of each category will be picked by this year’s esteemed judges, Razia Iqbal, Edwin Heathcote, Matt Jones, Dr Philipp Rode, Samuel Ross, Seetal Solanki and Camille Walala in November. 

Explore the Beazley Designs of the Year nominees below


Goldsmith Street, Norwich
Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley

Housing No.8 (Laboratorio de Vivienda)
MOS Architects

L’Arbre Blanc
Designer: Sou Fujimoto Architects, Nicolas Laisné, Dimitri Roussel and OXO Architectes

Leishenshan Hospital
10,000 workers

Lin’an History Museum
Amateur Architecture Studio

Material Institute
Designer: Assemble with Material Institute and MONA

Social Design Collaborative

Parasite set design
Designer: Lee Ha Jun

UCCA Dune Art Museum
Designer: OPEN Architecture

Z33: House for Contemporary Art, Design and Architecture
Designer: Francesca Torzo


A Rapist in Your Way (‘Un violador en tu camino’)
Designer: Colectivo LASTESIS (Daffne Valdés Vargas, Paula Cometa Strange, Lea Cáceres Díaz and Sibila Sotomayor Van Rysseghem)

Chernobyl Sound Design
Designer: Joe Beal, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Stefan Henrix and Stuart Hilliker (Sound), SISTER, The Mighty Mint and Word Games (Production), HBO and Sky Atlantic (Networks)

ICEYE One-Metre Radar Satellite Imaging
Designer: Rafal Modrzewski and Pekka Laurila

Make Your Own Masters
Designer: Stacie Woolsey

Manifold Garden
Designer: William Chyr, Arthur Brussee, Laryssa Okada and Martin Kvale

Designer: Founder and CEO: Trevor McFedries; Co-founder: Sara DeCou; Chief Content Officer: Nicole de Ayora; Head of Design: Isaac Bratzel; President: Kara Weber; General Manager Lauren Goulston

NAE Cities Index
Designer: Li Lai, Briteweb, Andrew Lim and Nan Wu

The Renegade Dance Challenge
Designer: Jalaiah Harmon

The Uncensored Library
Designer: Reporters Without Borders in collaboration with DDB Germany; Architect: blockworks; Production: MediaMonks; Strategy: The Humblebrag

Designer: Alice Wong with Aryan Javaherian

Designer: Doug Blackiston, Josh Bongard, Sam Kriegman and Michael Levin


Designers: Rui Zhou

Dakala Cloth – A New African Textile
Designers: Nkwo Onwuka

Kalank costume design
Manish Malhotra

Moments of Clarity Collection
Fredrik Tjærandsen

Nothing New
Phoebe English, Clara Jedrecy, Nataliya Brady and Ellie Grace

Reconstructed Superstars, Spring/Summer 2020 Collection
Helen Kirkum with Bethany Williams

The Sari Series

Scrap Case
Nicole McLaughlin

Telfar bag


3D rendering of SARS-CoV-2
Alissa Eckert (MSMI) and Dan Higgins (MAMS)

 A *New* Program for Graphic Design
Author: David Reinfurt; Designer/Publisher: Shannon Harvey

Babylon Berlin title design
Design: Saskia Marka; Music: Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer;Production Company: X Filme Creative Pool

Breast Friends
Director: Caitlin Young; Sound Design: Ioannis Spanos; Sound Mix: Yin Lee; Voice Actor: Suzy Oxenham

Climax title sequence
Director: Gaspar Noé; Titles Designer: Tom Kan.

Color of the Year: Bleached Coral
Designer: Huei Yin Wong; Writer: Jack Railton-Woodcock

Cover art for i,i  by Bon Iver
Eric Timothy Carlson and Aaron Anderson

Hellscape jigsaw
Artwork, Design and Concept: Christopher Spencer; Design and Concept: Carl Gosling; Packaging Design: Danny Mitchell; Manufacturer: Map Marketing

Kiss My Genders graphic identity and typeface
Design: Studio Frith; Client: Hayward Gallery, London; Exhibition Curators: Vincent Honoré and Tarini Malik; Publisher: Hayward Publishing.

Ok Glacier Memorial
Designers: Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer; Text: Andri Snær Magnason; Story: Oddur Sigur› sson; Manufacturer: Grétar Márfi orvaldsson

Stormzy’s stab-proof vest
Designers: Banksy

Tokyo 2020 Official Art Posters Project
Tokyo 2020 official art posters project team, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee

Women and Heart Disease: Physician Bias and AI
Karthik Dinakar, Catherine Kreatsoulas, Analise Alexandra Emhoff and Irina Kruglova


Artes y Oficios
Fabien Cappello and Batch.shield
Julien Vaissieres, Milo Mcloughlin-Greening and Salomé Bazin

Biomimetic Neck Collar
Luke Hale

Border as Producer of Design
Shneel Malik, Dr. Brenda Parker and Prof. Marcos Cruz (Bio-ID Lab, UCL) with Richard Miller (Froyle Tiles)

DO Black
Magnus Jakobsson and Mattias Alfborger

Kate Strudwick

Förändring by IKEA
Lolo Stigenius, Akanksha Deo, Iina Vuorivirta and Helene Davidsson

Fronda Stool
Sam Hecht, Kim Colin, Romain Voulet, Luca Corvatta and Mattiazzi Srl

Impossible Burger 2.0 ‘A Better Meat for the Planet’
Impossible Foods

Shneel Malik, Brenda Parker and Marcos Cruz; Researcher:
Laura Stoffels; Fabricator: Richard Miller

Judy emergency kits
Simon Huck, Josh Udaskin and Red Antler with various

Gabriela Medero and Samuel Chapman

Designers: Isabel Aagaard, Nicolas Aagaard and Kaare Frandsen

LEGO Braille Bricks
LEGO Foundation and LEGO Group in collaboration with official partners in the international blind community

Lucy Hughes

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%
Nike Sport Research Lab

Joanne Baban Morales (Nünude) and Vivian Murad (Skin Bandages

Ooho capsules
Notpla with Lucozade

Ouroboros Steak
Andrew Pelling, Orkan Telhan and Grace Knight

Reflectacles Privacy Eyewear
Scott Urban

Self-Sanitising Door Handle
Sum Ming Wong and Kin Pong Li

SmartHalo 2
Xavier Peich, Gabriel Alberola and Jonathan Beaulieu

Jiva Materials Ltd

Michael Tougher and RPD International

The Water Box Mobile Filtration System
Just Water and 501cTHREE


Brick arches
Hong Kong protestors

The Station of Being
Rombout Frieling Lab and Research Institutes of Sweden, Umeå

Teeter-Totter Wall
Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello with Colectivo Chopeke


Beazley Designs of the Year is on view until 28 March 2021


224-238 Kensington High St
W8 6AG


Sujata Burman is a writer and editor based in London, specialising in design and culture. She was Digital Design Editor at Wallpaper* before moving to her current role of Head of Content at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale where she is expanding the content offering of the showcases. Over the past decade, Sujata has written for global design and culture publications, and has been a speaker, moderator and judge for institutions and brands including RIBA, D&AD, Design Museum and Design Miami/. In 2019, she co-authored her first book, An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture, published by Hoxton Mini Press, which was driven by her aim to make the fields of design and architecture accessible to wider audiences.