Designs of the Year 2013 at London’s Design Museum

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By Ali Morris / Published by Dwell
The Design Museum London’s annual "Designs of the Year" exhibition acts as a wonderful filter for a year’s worth of production and creativity. The result is in an orderly display of the very best in architecture, product, transport and fashion design produced over the past 12 months. From the stunningly beautiful to the life changing, more than 90 nominated designs covering seven categories are displayed across a cheerful yellow, grey, and white exhibition space designed by London-based studio Faudet Harrison.

The nominations are selected by the museum’s "global pool" of tastemakers, including architects, academics, journalists, writers, and design tutors. Curator Pete Collard noted how this year’s choices have a focus on open source design and possess a distinct do-it-yourself spirit.

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One of the show’s most vibrant exhibits was Yayoi Kusama’s collection for Louis Vuitton that saw the Japanese artist covering everything from bags to dresses in psychedelic red and white spots.

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Upon entering the exhibition, visitors are greeted by Dutch design studio Unfold’s Kiosk Project that imagines a future where digital printing booths stand next to fast food stalls on city street corners. The idea being that customers will be able to use the Kiosk for a number of instances including getting a bespoke fix for a broken heel or printing out a last minute gift for a friend.

Collard says, "It’s now possible for people to manufacture their own designs, bypassing the traditional chain of mass manufacture to shop to consumer."

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When folded up, the Morph Folding wheel by Vitamins for Maddack Inc. takes up almost half the amount of space—an invention that will enable wheelchairs to be folded away flat into the storage compartments of airplanes, trains and cars for the first time.

This approach is demonstrated by nominees in the product category such as Relplicator 2; an affordable 3D printer by Makerbot, and also, Ekso Bionics’ Magic Arms; a 3D-printed, wearable plastic jacket that functions as an exoskeleton for small children with musculoskeletal disabilities.

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Colour Porcelain by Scholten & Baijings for 1616 Arita-This collection of hand painted porcelain tableware is one of the most aesthetically pleasing pieces within the exhibition A perfect fusion between traditional Japanese craft production and contemporary European design, the pieces feature traditional Japanese colors and are made using fine quality clay found locally to 1616 Arita’s factory.

Choosing an overall winner from this diverse collection is no small feat. How do you compare Zaha Hadid's impressive $160,000 Liquid Glacial table with ColaLife’s cleverly packaged anti-diarrhea kits that are helping to save children’s lives in rural Africa? The decision lies with seven judges chaired by renowned designer and Head of Department at Academy Eindhoven, Ilse Crawford, who will be debating the result with the panel over the coming days and announcing the winners in April.

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E Source by Hal Watts-In developing countries such as Africa, where 70% of Europe’s electronic waste is exported, burning cables to recover and sell copper is a common practice. This bicycle powered cable granulator eradicates the need for burning, making the separating process a lot cleaner and healthier for workers. In addition, it’s also a more cost effective process as recyclers can sell un-burnt copper for up to 20% more than burnt.

The Designs of the Year nominations will be on show at the Design Museum until July 7, 2013.

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Tekio by Anthony Dickens-UK designer Anthony Dickens’ was inspired by traditional Japanese chōchin paper lanterns when he created Tekio; a prototype modular lighting system, whose adaptable design can be tailored to snake around any interior space.

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Kit Yamoyo by Simon and Jane Berry for ColaLife-ColaLife’s cleverly packaged anti-diarrhea kits are designed to fit within crates of Coca Cola, which are already being imported into remote rural villages. The kits contain medicines that are helping to save children’s lives.

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Rain Room by Random International-The phenomenally successful Rain Room installation, which was installed at London’s Barbican gallery last year, earned its creators Random International a nomination in the Digital category.

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Astley Castle by Witherford Watson-Competing against architectural giants such as Renzo Piano’s Shard and Zaha Hadid’s Galaxy Soho in Beijing, this sensitive renewal of a dilapidated castle in rural Warwickshire caught our eye for it’s clever layering of crumbling, 16th century stonework and warm modern interiors.

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Raspberry Pi by the Raspberry Pi Foundation-The unusually named Raspberry Pi (a nod to the long history of fruit based names in computing) is a tiny and economical computer that was developed by Eben Upton at the University of Cambridge to help Computer Science students improve upon their programming skills. Since then, the $25 machines have proved incredibly popular among the wider public who have used them to create their own gadgets and devices. The microcomputer was named as one the most revolutionary nominations by curator Pete Collard due to the fact that, “it actively encourages people to design at home.”

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The life size model of Kusama taken from an installation at Selfridges also provided the perfect photo call opportunity for 3 of the panel judges at the opening this week.