Designs of the Year 2015: what the past year of design has brought the world

Designs of the Year 2015: what the past year of design has brought the world

They say it’s not the winning, but the taking part that counts. Nowhere is this old adage more apt than at the 8th Designs of the Year exhibition at London’s Design Museum - a cornucopia of the best design of the last 12 months.

Somehow, despite a leaderboard looming large on the wall and number of big hitter nominees - Frank Gehry, Tesla, Raf Simons - this exhibition, deftly curated by Gemma Curtin, is more playground than battlefield, albeit with a social conscience (think loos for communities without running water or the Waterbank campus, which harvests rainwater as well as providing a education space in Kenya).

The range of the nominees - at times overwhelming - is typical of DOTY (Curtin calls it a ’snapshot of diversity’). Where else could you find a macho machine like the BMW i8, more at home on a competition podium in Gatwick Airport, next to a kaleidoscopically-colored wooden bench by Raw Edges’ Endgrain? But despite this, the reassuringly high number of young faces in the line-up serves to remind us that the award is, first and foremost, dedicated to nurturing a certain design zeitgeist - specifically that of pioneering, and often divergent, fresh talent. Marjan van Aubel, with her Current Table or Thomas Tait, with his prismatic AW13/14 collection are just two of note.

To Curtin, the most exciting aspect of this is the eclectic scope with which designers approach the ever-shifting relationship between craftsmanship and advancing technology. While some of the pieces on show actively embrace tech (the enchanting, Escher-like game Monument Valley, for instance), others have connected in different ways, notably through fundraising platforms like Kickstarter. More than five of the projects included began life on Kickstarter, including the Double O bike lights from Paul Cocksedge Studio. It’s something Curtin is wholeheartedly behind. ’It’s a great way of getting ideas out there and letting the public choose what’s important,’ she says. And that’s it really. Design is here to answer our questions and solve our problems - here are 76 things that do just that.

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