8 of the Most Intriguing Nominees for London's Design Museum "Design of the Year" Prize

hovding/Promo image Hovding Helmet

Every year the Design Museum in London has a juried competition to pick the best of the year's design. It's always a highlight of the design year: seeing the imaginative and useful things that people have created. But this year's show is hard to figure.

Seeing it up close and personal should clarify but the chaotic display makes it more difficult. It's a mish-mash: there are 7 categories of design but items of the same category are not put all together in one place. So there are chairs with graphics, interspersed with clothes, and architecture on walls. In short: it is impossible to focus.

Secondly, for some reason no photos are allowed. At a design show! So some of these photos are taken surreptitiously... And others, we have to rely on the polished professionals' version.

So here is a grumpy view of some of the more interesting items. But no idea of who could possibly win.

1. Product: Hovding Invisible Cycle Helmet

This has to be the most clever helmet ever: whether it wins or not. It's the Hovding Invisible Cycle Helmet, designed to solve the problem of cyclists who don't want to wear a helmet because they look bad. It can be worn fashionably as a scarf or collar and then turns into an airbag upon collision.

2. Product: Orb-it Vacuum Cleaner

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Orb-it

This is Orb-it: a vacuum cleaner by Black & Decker: a dust buster for design buffs. It is so cute: the size of a soccer ball, cordless, and comes in a choice of colours. Press a button and the handle pops up and the nozzle pops out. It's rechargeable and bagless.

3. Fashion: Melissa Shoes

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Melissa Shoes

Melissa shoes from Brazil are 100% recyclable, made of a special material, MeliFlex, a mono-material which can be dissassembled and recycled. These adorable ones, designed by Italian Gaetano Pesce, are made of a series of plastic discs, joined only at their edges. In the past Melissa has had shoes designed by Zaha Hadid, and the Campana Brothers.

4. Fashion: Oratory Jacket

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Oratory Jacket

The Oratory jacket is designed by the people who brought the world Brompton bicycles. It's a natty looking cycling jacket made of water-resistant fabric, with reflective panels on the lapel and cuffs and a fold-down bright green visibility panel in the back to keep the user safe and in view.

5. Furniture: XXXX_Sofa

yuyavs/Promo image XXXX_Sofa

This XXXX_Sofa adjustable sofa is made from recycled plastic and can be assembled in components to make it smaller or larger, to fit the room. The original prototype was made from 8,000 chopsticks.

6. Furniture: Harbour Chair

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Harbour Chair

The Harbour Chair is designed for home or restaurant use. It is Scandinavian in influence, sturdy and affordable.

7. Furniture: Moon Rock Table

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Moon Rock Table

The Moon Rock table is a beautiful, inlaid table using marquetry techniques, but plastic laminate instead of the traditional wood. The designer is elevating a humble kitchen material to high furniture status--and it works.

8. Furniture: The Crates Moveable, Foldable Furniture Series

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 The Crates

The Crates is a series of moveable, foldable furniture designed in China. It's a response to the quickly changing environment there, where buildings are demolished at a moment's notice. The innovative collection includes sofa, desk and bed.

As for the rest: the winner in each category is announced in March and the over-all winner in April. With no outstanding or obvious stand-outs, the choices will be interesting.

Tags: A Picture Is Worth | Chairs | Design Competitions | Designers | Furniture

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