Visual communication is perhaps the most accessible design discipline, both for its sheer ubiquity and its broad mandate to convey an idea as clearly and memorably as possible. It could be a poster, billboard, pamphlet or even a simple design element like a calendar on the wall that initially pulls us into the work of the designers and firms around us. The 2014 Core77 Design Awards honorees in the Visual Communication category turned out to be the second largest group of honorees. From fictitious brand identities to an anthology of infographics to a good ol'-fashioned student-produced zine, there's enough work in here to keep you browsing for a couple of hours.
The jury team—led by designer, typographer, writer and illustrator Marian Bantjes—shared the 18 projects that they thought best showed the spirit of visual communications. Read on to learn more about the honored work:
Professional Winner: The Infographic History of the World, by Valentina D'Efilippo
As its title suggests, "The Infographic History of the World" is a veritable trove of graphic design gems. Valentina D'Efilippo's compilation of infographics follows everything from galactic families to the evolution of man—in short, you're getting nearly 14 billion years of information in one volume. "This is a conflation everything the world needs right now: a rediscovery of the joys of reading and the printed page; seductive and clever graphic representations of historical data and a joyful immersion in learning," says juror Mark Mushet. "The seamless video helped this one past any hurdles. Bonus points for being an attractive product that will appeal to absolutely anyone!"
» Learn more about The Infographic History of the World
Student Winner: LAXART Museum, by Young JooTak
Art Center College of Design student Young JooTak rebranded the LAXART Museum's identity down to its very last design element. The project included a new website design, interactive communication, print campaigns, media art, 3D graphics, product packaging, book and magazine layouts, virtual environments and creation of graphic identities and branded experiences. "I was really surprised this was a student project. It looked so real: completely plausible, with many levels of engagement worked out," says Bantjes. "I like the mark a lot: a very high-tech-looking X with all sorts of spin-off possibilities. It successfully combined the clean/modern thing with a really recognizable identity."
» Learn more about Laxart Museum
Professional Runner Up: Bezos Center for Innovation, by Studio Matthews with Olson Kundig Architects
The 5,000 sq. ft. space that Studio Matthews and Olson Kundig Architects designed pulls its inspiration from a well-known design buzzword: innovation. The goal of the exhibition is to inspire and help visitors learn about Seattle's creative history, as well as it's reputation for standout global companies. "You would expect that a healthy budget for design would guarantee success, but this is certainly not always the case," says juror Paul Roelofs. "In this instance, that budget was used to create an incredibly fresh package of interactive displays to describe the complex concept of innovation. The multitude of approaches designed to tell that story are themselves seamless with the content. It is a brilliant and engaging execution."
» Learn more about Bezos Center for Innovation
Professional Runner Up: Herman Miller Collection, by Hello Design
Herman Miller is by no means a new name to anyone with a bit of interest in design, and the Herman Miller Collection—designed by Hello Design—highlights precisely the allure we've come to expect from the storied brand. The collection was designed to be photographed in the Eames Case Study House. The design team also launched a video showcasing the ins and outs of the line's production."Sexy, sexy," says juror Shelley Gruendler. "We oohed and aaahed over the imagery, and despite the clichÃ© of awarding a prize to such an obvious project, we really were seduced by the interface, the navigation and the wealth of information."
» Learn more about Herman Miller Collection
Student Runner Up: 512Stew, by 512stew
512Stew is a one-off zine that covers Austin culture through photography, illustrations and text. 18 University of Texas at Austin design students put the 300-page book together and ran an Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds for printing, limited-edition dust jackets, bookmarks and the ever-important launch party. "As an educator I can really appreciate the benefit of this project for students," says Gruendler. "Many students come out of school with too much concept and not enough execution, but this project, to teach people to actually get a publication done from start to finish including costing and printing and launching is just a really great experience and a wonderful result.
» Learn more about 512Stew
The 3D printing revolution has been a long time coming—but, to borrow William Gibson's famous quote, it's just not very evenly distributed. Or rather, it's limited to the constraint of a relatively small build platform, at least when it comes to affordable consumer- and prosumer-level machines. "At one extreme, software tools are empowering individuals to envision, create and share their own designs; while at another, low-cost digital fabrication machines are allowing these one-of-a-kind creations to be built and consumed from the comfort of our homes," says designer Marcelo Coelho. "However, while 3D printers are becoming increasingly accessible and capable of rivaling the quality of professional equipment, they are still inherently limited by a small print volume, placing severe constraints on the type and scale of objects we can create."
Working with fellow designer and technologist Skylar Tibbits, Coelho developed Hyperform, an algorithmic software solution that marks the growth—literally—of digital fabrication. The project was named a Professional Runner Up in the Speculative category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards.
In order to virtually expand the build volume of the FORM 1 desktop SLA machine, Tibbits and Coelho developed an algorithm that transforms a desired form—which can be larger than the printer itself—into an origami-like chain structure, which can be unfolded into the bigger final product. Where the conventional method is to default to piecemeal fabrication, Hyperform allows the object to be printed in a single piece. "Hyperform encodes assembly information into the actual parts, so there is no need for a separate assembly instruction sheet and parts don't need to be individually labeled and sorted," says Coelho.
Just to put this into perspective, check out the 50-foot chain that was made using the printer's 5” × 5” × 6” print volume:
You've seen what the machine is capable of—creating crazy long links of fiber—but check out how it's done:
At the heart of every design, there is a problem—or rather, a solution. The end result might broadly be called a product, but insofar as this definition doesn't specify a physical artifact, design practice can take a number of other forms. In fact, Strategy and Research suggests a more rigorous approach to design in general, at once more fundamental than a given instance of a problem and more profound than a single product. The 2014 Core77 Design Awards honorees in the Strategy & Research category represent a worthy selection of these projects.
Larry Keeley, President and Co-Founder of Doblin Inc., led the jury team in choosing their top 13 entries of the bunch. Learn more about each one below.
Professional Winner: Pearson Common Core System of Courses, by POSSIBLE Los Angeles
While information is becoming more digital by the day, one end user may have had the most benefit from the transition: student. Physical textbooks can be incredibly heavy for the students wo have to tote them around and expensive for the school providing them, and once you get to college, you're subject to both inconveniences. POSSIBLE Los Angeles has introduced the Pearson Common Core System in response—a digital experience for the classroom, specifically early learning atmospheres. "This is a bold action taken by a textbook market leader to solve an important and gnarly problem: textbooks are wildly anachronistic," says the jury. They are too costly for school districts, too heavy for students, and nowhere near interactive enough for the way young people learn now. It is rare to see the market leader be this bold in disrupting their core products—and for this reason it rose to the level of being truly strategic."
» Learn more about Pearson Common Core System of Courses
Student Winner: Redesigning the Air Ambulance, by Sean Jalleh
Tending to medical emergencies in the air is a delicate task, given the size and weight constraints of the setting. North Carolina State University student Sean Jalleh accepted the challenge of strategizing the best way to house patients, medications and equipment during inter-hospital air travel. The jury weighs in: "This is a thorough, rigorous, solution-oriented approach to rethinking the interior design of helicopters used as air ambulances. The emphasis is clearly on physical and cognitive human factors, and we liked the way the problem was tough enough that everyone involved knows you can't afford to be wrong. We also liked the way that the recommendations were communicated well--—including clear diagrams that revealed how the design was completely optimized for effective medical care in tight spaces.
» Learn more about Redesigning the Air Ambulance
Professional Runner Up: Making the Giraffe Path, by Aki Ishida and Lynnette Widder
NYC Parks that date back to the 20th Century are easily overshadowed by the novelty of the quasi-futuristic High Line. Architect Aki Ishida and Columbia University Professor Lynnette Widder are shining a light on five of the city's parks through workshop events and explorative artifacts to help visitors pull the connections between the five areas. The duo delivered a "play book" that visually documented data and strategies for future path-making. "We have entered a new era of urban design where amenities like parks and public spaces are finally getting the professional attention they deserve," says the jury. "This project is a bold attempt to open up the design of an engaging trail way that would connect five Northern Manhattan urban parks in ways that could make them as collectively engaging as New York's High Line or Chicago's Millennium Park. We especially liked the way this team reframed their urban design challenge from trail mapping to trail making, and especially commend them for the 3D dynamic development techniques they used and the lovely human scale feel of the work."
» Learn more about Making the Giraffe Path
Professional Runner Up: Physical Assets for Adolescent Girls, by Yves Behar & fuseproject
This project from Yves Behar and fuseproject for the Nike Foundation's Girl Effect program looks to empower girls and help break the cycle of poverty. The team developed four prototypes and tested them on a two-week immersion study in Rwanda, bringing research and reactions back to improve the designs. While the jury wasn't so crazy about the title, they did appreciate the way the team rose to a difficult design challenge: "We felt this was a terrible name for an important idea: use solid design tradecraft to identify the smallest number of artifacts to reinvent that would make the greatest difference in the daily lives of young girls growing up in war-torn Rwanda. Often the really tough challenges demand and deserve the best design methods, and this design team rose to the challenge effectively."
» Learn more about Physical Assets for Adolescent Girls
Student Runner Up: VisPo - Visual Poetry, by Stephanie Bhim
Poetry is one of those artforms that means somethin different to every reader. University of Technology – Sydney student Stephanie Bhim is adding another layer of interpretation with her work, VisPo. The app houses a series of poems, each with their own set of visuals—devices that display various objective language and poetr7 techniques. "We all agreed that it was visionary: It makes the subtle, sometimes abstruse and technically complex conventions in poems and makes reading and interpreting poetry more engaging, accessible and beguiling," says the jury. "We were especially impressed with the way a student from the University of Technology Sydney, acting alone, made poetry visual, artful and emotional—in ways that go far beyond anything that could be done in an analog, print-only form... Of all entries— student and professional—in the too often dry arena of strategy and research, this was the only entry with a sense of wonder."
» Learn more about VisPo—Visual Poetry
Student Runner Up: MLKL, by Jeongdae Kim
University of Arts Bremen student Jeongdae Kim takes to areas plagued with logging and fire damage with his work, MLKL. The eco-friendly material effectively turns topsoil into a net, helping plant roots stay rooted and thrive. This solution is intended for areas prone to landslides, where it can be hard for trees to develop expansive root systems. The jury's thoughts: "Sadly, we seem to now be in a new era where natural calamities are more frequent, more severe, and more diverse. One smart design response is to be resilient—design to anticipate and prevent or lessen the severity of calamities. This team from The University of the Arts Bremen did precisely this by creating a new system that will help protect the land from catastrophic erosion following logging and/or fires... We expect this theme—design for resilience—to be crucial on our overheated planet."
» Learn more about MLKL
Some of us plan vacations based on a region's culinary specialties—which, for the record, is completely legitimate and delicious. Scouring travel books for information on locavorous delights is one thing, but in the interest of making cuisine more, um, digestible, we recommend Food Maps, by photographer Henry Hargreaves and chef/stylist Caitlin Levin. Joining forces as Hargreaves and Levin, the duo recently received a DIY Notable in the 2014 Core77 Design Awards for a series of maps depicting each country made up with its popular foodstuffs.
But the maps are much more than messes waiting to happen. "We have taken many of the iconic foods of countries and continents and turned them into physical maps," says the team. "These maps show how food has traveled the globe—transforming and becoming a part of the cultural identity of that place."
The work is detailed, demarcating different states and provinces with different ingredients. The use of perishable materials served as de facto deadlines for creating work. "The food was perishable, so we had to make it quickly so the ingredients didn't start to turn and look awful," says Hargreaves. Because who wants to look at an Italy made up of mushy, bruised tomatoes?
The finished products look good enough to eat, but the process was just as painstaking as any recipe you'd find in a Julia Childs cookbook. Check out this behind-the-scenes video:
Whether you're taking your route into your own hands with a bike or traveling as a passenger on a commercial flight, transportation is about much more than just getting from point A to point B. While we're not holding our collective breath for, say, self-driving cars or commercial space travel, we've seen plenty of innovations on the ground and in the sky in the Transportation category of the Core77 Design Awards.
General Motors' Christine Park led the jury team in choosing this year's honorees, which cover transportation designs of various scales and end users:
Professional Winner: Sandwichbikes, by Basten Leijh
The latest manifestation of the flatpack construction craze is Sandwichbikes, a build-it-yourself bike model that helps riders get to know the ins and outs of their ride in an intuitive way. The bike, designed by Basten Leijh, uses locally sourced beechwood from Germany. The jury was most impressed by the designer's ability to involve consumers: "We were drawn to the concept of engaging customers through assembling the bicycle, creating a unique experience and heightened sense of ownership. The design of the bicycle along with its packaging and graphics were consistent and appealing overall. The usage of laminate wood and its sustainable story was equally impressive as the design itself."
» Learn more about Sandwichbikes
Student Winner: The Future of Offshore Supply, by Martin Skogholt Hansen and Mikael Johansen
The Future of Offshore Supply is an exploration into maritime design, specifically offshore vessels and how they contribute to the economy. Oslo School of Architecture and Design students Martin Skogholt Hansen and Mikael Johansen took the opportunity to increase efficiency, safety and flexibility while challenging the role of traditional industry designs with a vessel that features an attachable water trailer of sorts. "We were impressed with the concept of a supply vessel that is efficient in cargo handling while strategically adding value to the economy of Norway," says the jury. "The layers of details in the design created an interest that drew us deeper in wanting to know more. The design was best in appearance, concept and presentation in that it effectively utilized graphics, rendering composition, colors and details. All design elements cohesively tied together with the concept."
» Learn more about The Future of Offshore Supply
While the Speculative category of the Core77 Design Awards has traditionally focused on design fiction, this year saw a much broader range of entries. From thought experiments to bleeding-edge technology to hypothetical gadgets, the 2014 honorees point to the design of the future as much as the future of design.
The jury, Led by Founding Director of SymbioticA Oron Catts, the jury team selected a total of 21 honorees for the Speculative category. Read on for more information on each of the projects:
Student Winner: Whereabouts, by Jacob Brancasi and Betsy Kalven
Whereabouts challenges the misconception that design can only serve the developing world through the classic social impact tropes of natural resources, healthcare and infrastructure. The project brings a speculative mindset to Kampala, Uganda, through three objects: Clinque Din Low, Boad Whisper Helmet and the Hush Hush Headset. Art Center College of Design students Jacob Brancasi and Betsy Kalven wanted to help people cultivate a better awareness to the world around them, and this trio of wearables are what came from their research. "This project is stood out as demonstration that speculative design does not need to be highly technological in order to be successful," says the jury. "By using seemly simple tools as story telling devices the designer(s) were able to convey a multifaceted cultural situation. Posing three 'what if' questions, which seem initially as very specific, the project asks some fundamental questions about the role design and designers play when they come to 'fix problems'; In particular when design comes to, so called, developing countries. The project calls into attention the need to comprehend the complex context of operating within an intricate web of social, cultural and economic situations that are all too often neglected by design."
» Learn more about Whereabouts
Professional Runner Up: I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin, by Ai Hasegawa
Ai Hasegawa's work, I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin, is exactly what it sounds like: a parable about cross-species gestation and its greater implications. The work addresses birth as a means to meet our demands for nutrition and outlines the technicalities of how feasible this idea really is. The jury applauded the project's "out there" response to a serious issue: "This project represents the power of speculative design to identify problems and intensify them through a well thought and delivered scenario. The project touches on the relationship of humans with other non-human animals. Its starting point is already of that of otherness, being asked from a non-western, non-male perspective. The questionable idea of giving birth to a non-human engendered animal as a way to deal with human overpopulation and non-human animal extinction is compounded with the proposition of actually eating that very same offspring."
» Learn more about I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin
Professional Runner Up: Parasitic Products, by Studio PSK
Parasitic Products, designed by Studio PSK, offer a twist on biomimicry, transposing the parasite/host relationship to a series of digital radios that depend on another appliance for their power supply. Inspired by existing parasites—the gall wasp, the ichneumon wasp and thehookworm—each radio behaves as an electronic analog to its biological basis. The jury team appreciated the work's refreshing angle on combining nature and technology: "[The] Parasitic Products project proposes a fresh take on product design processes with an interesting perspective on the complex relation between technology and nature. The design of the produced prototypes is strong and articulated, and the underlying research is profound and well documented." Juror Robert Foster commented "I particularly liked parasitic products as like most good design, nature did it first."
» Learn more about Parasitic Products
Professional Runner Up: Hyperform, by Marcelo Coelho and Skylar Tibbits
Frustrated by the volume constraints of desktop 3D printers, Hyperform allows users create designs that are bigger than the machine that produces them. Marcelo Coelho and Skylar Tibbits researched computational and material folding strategies that made it easier for the device to take on large print jobs. "I was also attracted to Hyperform as an idea as it could because it is like an old idea placed in a new realm," says Foster. "3D printing will become part of future life but one of its downfalls is size. The project was well researched and considered, I like ideas that are simple and yet can change the world for the better."
» Learn more about Hyperform
Student Runner Up: Conterfactual Story of a Sleepless Archipelago, by Faustine Lavorel
"What would happen if humans didn't need to sleep?" This simple question is the starting point for "Conterfactual Story of a Sleepless Archipelago," a design fiction brought to life through 3D elements such as drawings, diagrams, plans and other objects to tell the story of an isolated enclave in the Arctic Ocean whose inhabitants decided to stop sleeping in the 1960s. The work follows the society's progress and adaptations such as behavior, food intake, transportation and housing, among other things. "We were excited to see a speculative future driven not primarily by technological change, but by a something much more social and psychological. The goal of the project was to imagine a total world transformed by a different way of living. The designer's attention to detail, clear visual language and pure zaniness bring a fresh voice to the practice of design fiction."
» Learn more about Conterfactual Story of a Sleepless Archipelago
Student Runner Up: Declarations of Interdependence, by John Ryan
Art Center College of Design student John Ryan created a series of interactive prototypes that challenge the idea of individual and collective roles within digital media. The prototypes consist of a computer with a multi-user keyboard; a social media platform that's crowdsourced by your own social network; a website that can only be accessed when a certain number of users simultaneously connect from the same location; and a machine that monitors a group's behavior and visually represents the most dominant individual by using algorithms. The jury shares their thoughts: "The author ironically proposes possibilities for a new kind of individualism and modes of action through interventions with common computer interfaces, e.g. a computer that requires multiple users at the same time. The project questions the foundation of our contemporary construction of the self and the self-ownership, which are also the basis for the existing design ideals for technological artifacts and network infrastructures."
» Learn more about Declarations of Interdependence
Flat-packing has spread its proverbial wings and flown to all corners of the globe, thanks largely to a certain Swedish furniture company. It's said that Erie J. Sauder invented flat-packed furniture in 1951, but it wasn't until 1956, when draftsman Gillis Lundgren faced a transportation dilemma, that the method really took off. Legend has it, Lundgren needed to fit a table into his car so, of course, he unscrewed the legs and put the table back together at home. The really lucky part for design connoisseurs around the world? Lundgren was an employee at IKEA. And so the flat-packed IKEA furniture we all know and love was born.
In the same spirit, Sandwichbikes arrive at your door ready to be assembled. With a few basic tools, Basten Leijh's bike design is ready to ride. As simple as the assembly may be, there's a lot of history and trial-and-error innovation behind the Professional Winner in the Transportation category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards.
But putting the pieces together isn't just a means to an end, according to the design team: "The Sandwichbike doesn't just provide sustainable materials it also encourage sustainable use. We believe that when something is build with care ensures handle with care as well. Every step in the manual doesn't just bring you one step closer to your own Sandwichbike. Your commitment and appreciation for the design and quality will grow every step as well."
The Sandwichbike concept began in 2006 at a bicycle design competition in Taiwan. Bleijh Industrial Design Studio wanted to examine material use, manufacturing and distribution in bike designs with their entry. "Bleijh designed a bike made out of two wooden plates," says the design team. "Apart from the obvious advantages flat packing has for shipment, the use of two wooden plates gives freedom of printing and cutting techniques, making it possible to give each bicycle its own unique identity." Turns out everyone else loved the design as much as Bleijh did—the bike took fifth place in the competition.
The goal of all design, in some ways, is to make the world a better place. But beyond the functional and/or aesthetically pleasing products that you choose for your home or office, design can raise the standard of living for ...
Making the world a better place is no easy task. The number of designs attempting to do so is overwhelming and every single one is contributing to the betterment of life in some shape or form—maybe it's a beautiful desk organizer that completely changes the way someone works, or maybe it's a medical innovation that helps patients heal faster and get back to living their lives. The Social Impact entries for the 2014 Core77 Design Awards covered a variety of topics, from wheelchair designs to water irrigation systems.
Led by Danish Design Centre CEO Nille Juul-Sørensen, the Social Impact jury chose six standout designs from this year's entries. Read on to see the designer's contributions to making the world a more comfortable—and accessible—place.
Professional Winner: Saajhi Stepping Pump, by Sam Rulli and Xylem Essence of Life
The Saajhi Stepping Pump is a simple device that has the potential to triple the revenue of smallholder farmers in emerging agriculture markets. Sam Rulli and Xylem Essence of Life designed a way for farmers to use their own body weight and gravity to irrigate their fields—and use 40 percent less water while they're at it. The pump draws water from nearby sources and can be transported to the area that needs watering.
» Learn more about Saajhi Stepping Pump
Student Winner: Walter - Alter the Wheelchair, by Christian Bremer and Erik Ohlson
While wheelchairs provide an important mobility to their riders, they often don't perform the way we'd like them to on tough terrain and challenging topography. Chalmers University of Technology students Christian Bremer and Erik Ohlson created a wheelchair design that enables a more active, adventurous lifestyle. Walter - Alter the Wheelchair allows riders to translate the position of the chair's seat, changing its center of gravity. The design helps the person in the wheelchair act more freely and independently without any added accessories or bulky design.
» Learn more about Walter—Alter the Wheelchair
We all know how important first impressions are. When it comes to the products we choose to incorporate into our lives, the packaging provides the first clue about its precious contents, whether its a bedecked box or a clever reveal. Thus, the honorees in the Packaging category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards are designs that not only invite the user to open and experience them but also to keep and reuse them. Read on to see which entrants the jury team—led by Isabelle Dahlborg Lidström, Creative Director and Managing Partner of NINE AB—chose as the honorees:
Student Winner: Fortune Pill, by Jeongdae Kim
Taking a daily dosage of medication typically isn't the highlight of one's day. University of the Arts Bremen student Jeongdae Kim designed a whimsical pill packaging that might change your mind. Every time you pull open a different pill package, you'll be greeted by a daily fortune. "We loved this concept, so much insight and care," says the jury. One jury member commented "My father would smile everyday and look forward to eating his pills."
» Learn more about Fortune Pill
Professional Runner Up: Budweiser Bowtie Can with Crown Tab, by Metaphase Design Group, Inc., Anheuser-Busch InBev and DCA
It's safe to say that the beer can hasn't changed much in terms of shape—you can always count on the classic can and the traditional tallboy. Metaphase Design Group, Inc., Anheuser-Busch InBev and DCA took a stab at innovating the can's form and came back with a Budweiser pop-top that does more than just look good. Their bowtie-shaped can mirrors the logo, bringing the brand to a whole new level of marketing. "A real innovation in the beer can category, and superb graphic design to enhance the concept and shape," says the jury.
» Learn more about Budweiser Bowtie Can with Crown Tab
Professional Runner Up: Google Chromebook 11, by Uneka
Google looked to Uneka to develop a packaging design worthy of the clean, simple laptop it would house. The Google Chromebook 11 packaging design is just that—and eco-friendly to boot. The jury appreciated the container's brand loyalty: "Super simple shape that says it all, the form and concept reflects the brand."
» Learn more about Google Chromebook 11
Student Runner Up: Spacklit—Smart Innovative Packaging Solution for Spackling Compound, by Muli Bazak
Bezalel Academy of Art and Design student Muli Bazak combined the power of minimal packaging and the efficiency of a built-in application tool with Spacklit. Spackling wall imperfections used to require multiple tools, but Bazak has simplified the process with an all-in-one solution. The base of the package is sandpaper, allowing the user to sand the wall area. By pulling the tab off of the back of the capsule, the repairer can squeeze the body and fill the hole with spackle and skip the mess. The jury team described it as "all you need," "really brilliant" and "a 'must have" feeling.'"
» Learn more about Spacklit—Smart Innovative Packaging Solution for Spackling Compound
Professional Runner Up: Battement Cosmetics, by Lauren Hill
Lauren Hill's cosmetic packaging offers more than meets the eye. The visual branding is based off of a ballet move called the battement, a maneuver where the dancer begins with both feet together and sweeps one leg up—which is shown in the curved packaging art. The designer poetically attributes the packaging as adding "intrigue to the dance of getting ready." The jury's thoughts: "Conceptual and beautifully visualized. The materials are selected carefully and with a strong sense of fashion."
» Learn more about Battement Cosmetics
When you think about the Boy Scouts, activities like canoeing, fire-making and nature-inspired survival hacks are more likely to come to mind than an interactive gallery space on living sustainably. But the latter is as much in keeping with the organization's mission to "combine educational activities and lifelong values with fun." Thus, Volume teamed up with Studio Terpeluk to create the Sustainability Treehouse, an exhibition that shares a story of sustainability through the very way the treehouse runs—the structure is powered by wind and solar energy; rain-capture provides the water supply; and the building's waste is recycled.
"There were a lot of moving parts with this project that required many collaborators," says the Volume team. "There were architects, builders, content developers, writers and filmmakers on the project in addition to our core design team. Organization and quality control were key. Ironically, the creative process—at least in terms of client approval and such—was surprisingly smooth. They were enthusiastic about our proposed solutions from the get-go."
The treehouse is located at a magical place called the Summit, an adventure center that spans 10,000 acres and hosts practically any outdoor activity you can imagine (whitewater rafting, zip lining, skating, biking, climbing) for millions of people involved in the Boy Scouts. Taking in the site for the first time turned out to be one of the biggest surprises the project had to offer:
I can tell you about our first time visiting the site which is very remotely located in the hills of West Virginia. Flying in low over these hills we were surprised to see that in fact the mountain tops had been removed. This made us feel better about the mission of the Scouts to provide a new economic model that would restore the land here and provide other opportunities to the local community. Anyway, the second surprise involved the size of the site itself—they basically were building a city including all the infrastructure needed (if I could count the number of time I got lost on the dirt roads throughout the site that were rerouted on every visit...). We were first told that if you see one of the massive tractors or dump trucks coming pull over and get out of their way since they can't see you—we heeded this advice as the wheels on these things were over 6 feet in diameter.
The finished product incorporates a theater area for screening short films, interactive activities for visitors (including a rad lesson in energy from the bike-enabled Recyclotron) and walls bedecked with factoids throughout. Despite the wide perception of the Boy Scouts as somewhat traditional or staid, the Sustainability Treehouse presents information in a refreshing way, and the exhibition literature is said to be downright funny at times. Here's a peek at one element of the exhibition in action:
Any area of study can benefit from a well-designed methodology or toolkit. This year, the Educational Initiatives category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards saw submissions that tackled financial awareness, the ever-changing studio space, and generally more hands-on, activity-based learning. This year's entrants prove that design has a place in every classroom.
Charlie Cannon, CEO at Epic Decade and Associate Professor of Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design, led his jury team through the entries and they ended up with eight favorites. Read on to see which projects impressed them and why.
Professional Winner: Media Design Practices/Lab+Field Curriculum Redesign, by Media Design Practices (MDP) Core Faculty
Education programs are changing just as quickly as the technology around us. The Art Center College of Design called up the Media Design Practices (MDP) Core Faculty to come up with their own lesson plan for the ever-evolving realm of design education. The result: Lab+Field—a two-track program that explores the cultural impact of new science/technology/culture ideas and combines it with social issues in international situations. "This is a bold experiment," the jury says. "At a time when there is a proliferation of 'topical' degree programs (social innovation, sustainable design, critical design), Art Center's program is arguing for a 'liberal arts' approach that design students benefit when they apply tools and techniques to a wide array of topics."
» Learn more about Media Design Practices/Lab+Field Curriculum Redesign
Professional Runner Up: Design for America Process Guide, by Design for America
Design for America Process Guide allows just about anyone to explore local and social challenges through design thinking, walking readers through the design process phases and relating the practice to real-life situations. More importantly, the publication asks students to reflect and re-evaluate their work created with help from the guide for better understanding of the craft at hand. The jury shares their thoughts: "For us, the guide appears to be an incredibly useful introduction for people who want to use design and make a difference but don't necessarily know how, and who aren't necessarily designers. We liked that it was developed in an iterative process of development and field-tested... After making our decision, we reviewed the previous year's entries and noted that Design for America appears to be engaged in a long-term and systematic development of their systems (building cohorts, infrastructure, and tools) to increase the effectiveness of their programs and their chapter's projects. We really want to applaud them for this work."
» Learn more about Design for America Process Guide
Professional Runner Up: City Studies, by The Center for Urban Pedagogy
The Center for Urban Pedagogy is bringing design to high school students with City Studies. By creating programs that encourage students to investigate and explore the communities around them—specifically in NYC—students get out of the classroom and are able to apply design-thinking to the environment around them in a more hands-on manner. Through interacting with city decisionmakers and talking with fellow citizens, students are able to break down local issues and see what make the city around them tick. "What is so exciting about this submission is it empowers students to engage these kids in investigating the world around them and through that process benefits themselves and the people in their communities," says the jury. "An essential model of learning here is that students are acquiring skills not in a stand alone course, but necessary tools for exploring an issue that is relevant to them. CUP notes that 'students not only learn design and media skills, but they learn about the power of design as a tool for research, problem solving and effective communication.' For us, this is an interesting model of how to enable students by allowing the work to be guided by practicing designers but the content is still selected by student choice."
» Learn more about City Studies
With artisanal cocktails in vogue these days, it seems as though a new speakeasy is opening every other week here in Brooklyn. Now that reclaimed wood and Edison bulbs are de rigueur, Makr Shakr offers a rather more futuristic alternative to the dandily bow-tied, impeccably mustachioed barkeep. Sure, their slogan is an open-ended question—"What could you make with the power of three robots in your pocket?"—but surely a stiff drink is among the top responses. The drink-slinging robots were unveiled at the 2013 Milan Design Week and also made an official installation debut at the Google I/O on May 15, 2013. Getting the project ready was a team effort from groups at Pentagram and the MIT Senseable City Lab.
Makr Shakr features three robots that make the drinks, but orders were taken via social media, and eventually the team developed an app for easier ordering and recipe sharing. "At the installation [in Milan], the data was coordinated through the app, and users could also share their drink orders through Facebook and Twitter," says Pentagram's Ken Deegan. "Each user's avatar became part of the data visualization showing the orders, where it was grouped and visualized alongside other users and their drinks."
Considering that data collection happened in Milan and the subsequent event at Google occurred a short week after the initial installation, there was little time for fine-tuning. But the toughest part wasn't the time crunch: "Conceptually, the design challenge was transforming something as ordinary as ordering a drink at a bar into using an app to order drinks from robots, and have it be an enjoyable and seamless transaction," says Deegan.
It sounds like a scene straight from a sci-fi film—and, honestly, it looks it, too. Check out the video to put it all into perspective:
Soft Goods is one of those ecumenical categories that encompasses dozens of objects we use every day. While we typically think of articles of clothing, shoes and bags as fashion or its generic function of keeping us warm, clean and well-equipped on a daily basis. Yet a wide range of products qualify as soft goods, and the honorees of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards illustrate some of the more specialized designs in the category.
The Soft Goods jury team—led by Carl Moriarty of Arc'teryx—shared their thoughts on this year's picks. Read on and see what they liked best about the eight honorees.
Professional Winner: SAM Medical Junctional Tourniquet, by Ziba Design
Ziba's design for medical product supplier SAM Medical took low-tech materials and created a revolutionary live-saving tourniquet device. It only takes 25 seconds to inflate and apply the tool, which weighs in lighter and less expensive than competing designs. The jury appreciated the team's clear mission in designing SAM: "The attention to detail take it beyond a strap with an inflatable bladder... The designers understood their brief, fulfilled it and importantly knew when to stop."
» Learn more about SAM Medical Junctional Tourniquet
Student Winner: eQu - Therapeutic Riding Saddle for Disabled Children Focused on Children with Cerebal Palsy, by Stephanie Knödler
Although horseback riding might not be the first thing you'd prescribe for a disabled child, animal therapy can offer benefits to htose looking for alternative treatments. Umeå Institute of Design student Stephanie Knödler created the eQu so disabled children can enjoy riding a horse without clunky equipment, or even another person. The product is an adjustable seat that helps bring the rider's legs close to the horse, using the animal's body heat to soothe spastic muscles. The design takes the horse into account, as well—anti-shock pads and eQu's open shape help keep the horse's shoulders free for movement. "Classic product design project—focussed on multiple stakeholders/customers, utilizing thorough, methodical processes (she even made a life-size polystyrene horse!)," says the jury. "We like that the design seems to be not only resolved functionally but also aesthetically. The aesthetic is appropriate and non-medical. We especially like that consideration has also been given to the horse as a stakeholder with the adjustable springs/pads to allow for the riders' weight, skill and physical ability."
» Learn more about eQu - Therapeutic Riding Saddle for Disabled Children Focused on Children with Cerebal Palsy
Professional Runner Up: Skyline WindScape, by Skyline Exhibits
Tradeshows can be a drag by any measure, and those of you who have been responsible for setting up and breaking down booths. For your next show, consider the Skyline WindScape, which consists of inflatable "airframe technology." Pull the plug and deflate for a quick tear-down. "It suffers from being in a somewhat unexciting field but we do believe that there will be a bunch of professional show-goers who will be very excited and benefit directly from this," says the jury. "It looks to be simple to use, flexible, compact and light. We like that they seem to have looked at the problem with a clean sheet and synthesized existing technologies into a new product that solves some very easy to articulate problems."
» Learn more about Skyline WindScape
Student Runner Up: O-Rings, by Increment
It's not often that you find a toy that's universally enjoyed by kids of all abilities. Many times, disabled children are forced to enjoy playthings that are specifically designed for their needs. Rhode Island School of Design team Increment Studios has reversed that sentiment with O-Rings. The series of stackable rings all feature different textures, densities, materials, colors and weights, making them a great way to improve motor activities and sensory simulations. The jury weighs in: "The goal of the product—inclusive play for kids of a range of abilities—is a good one and frequently neglected by elaborate toys. I could see these being used frequently by a range of kids and being quite useful for disabled ones."
» Learn more about O-Rings
The way we eat food—you know, through our mouths—hasn't changed a whole lot. But where the method has stayed the same, the processes that make up our favorites and tools we use to make our meals have seen radical innovations. The 2014 honorees from the Food category of the Core77 Design Awards vary from multi-purpose kitchen tools to breeding homes for insect protein.
Led by Eating Designer Marije Vogelzang, the jury team chose 12 designs that stood out among the rest and shared their thoughts on the work. Read on to see how cricket-infused cocktail bitters, liquid flower petals, edible Menorahs, and more:
Student Winner: 432 Farm: Insect Breeding, by Katharina Unger
We've been seeing insects pop up here and there in future-focused culinary designs, but there hasn't been a whole lot on how to keep our insect reserve alive and thriving. University of Applied Arts Vienna student Katharina Unger has developed an in-home breeding tool for insects—specifically looking at insect protein as a substitute for meat. "We chose this winner unanimously," says the jury. "This project stood out from the others due to it's high quality and designing every single aspect of the process. The project takes on a very current issue and transforms it trough in-depth research, design quality and the ability to make a very complex structure simple and understandable. Eating insects will still be quite a step for the western consumer to make but with this product the designer takes a bit of the horror away and provides a practical, consumer oriented product that people can relate to."
» Learn more about 432 Farm: Insect Breeding
Student Runner Up: Food Radiation Scanner, by The Furious Fika
Japanese households located in the blast area of Fukushima are still suffering the consequences. The Furious Fika, a team from the Umeâ Institute of Design, designed a scanner that helps identify food with dangerous amounts of radiation, in a hope to make purchasing locally grown food safe again for consumers. The jury's thoughts: "A very powerful design for a very realistic issue. In many cases technology in combination with food enables loss of connection to the own soil. In this case the design is made to ensure a more firm connection, feeling of safety and trust in local food. Also it will help fight against food waste. Another interesting effect of showing this design at an international contest like this is that it gives us a glimpse into the reality of daily life of many. It shows us a creepy glimpse of something that could happen anywhere, also next to our own doorstep. A big issue is made tangible."
» Learn more about Food Radiation Scanner
Professional Notable: Blow Dough, by Omer Polak and Michal Evyatar
Bread has been a source of sustenance for longer than any of us can remember—and it's been made and consumed the same way for just about as long. Omer Polak and Michal Evyatar have reintroduced us to the starchy staple with a new baking method that involves a blowtorch. The experience starts with seasoned dough that's transformed into herbed balloons with a flamed clocking in at temperatures as high as 1,112°F. The jury called it "a fun and engaging project with a very strong cultural aspect honoring heritage whilst innovating and creating a bonding experience extraordinaire."
» Learn more about Blow Dough
Polygons all started with what was supposed to be a classroom lesson in what not to do. National Institute of Design student Rahul Agarwal elaborates: "Polygons was a result of a course we have in our curriculum called Simple Product Design, for which one of my seniors advised me not to take up products which have reached near-perfection in their evolutionary cycle—specifically giving me the example of a spoon. And that was it: Challenge accepted." The design itself is an intriguing take on the all-in-one design thinking that people so eagerly eat up.
At first glance, this comes off nothing like the traditional spoon shape we've grown to know and love for its fantastic soup-capturing capabilities. But that's because it's not a traditional spoon by any means. Polygons is a measuring tool, taking the functionality of multiple load sizes—both in tablespoons and teaspoons—and combining them into one form.
Going even further into the realm of "extremely useful must-haves," Polygons' design was made with easy cleaning (read: fold it flat and wipe it down) and storage in mind—the single-material construction is just as at home holding a page in a recipe book as it is measuring out spices. The entire product is very reminiscent of Joseph Joseph's folding chopping board, which the designer cites as inspiration for this work. See the spoon in action:
Obviously, the principle of form-follows-function is strong with this one."The common problem of most design projects is knowing when to stop with the form/styling iterations," says Agarwal. "But for Polygons, the product kept shaping up along the design process so clearly, that there quickly came a point where there was not a single line on the product which didn't have a clear function."
It doesn't take designing an entire ecosystem to make an impact in the world of service design—singling out individual issues can be more manageable and realistic than attempting tackling an entire industry or product category at once. And each of the honorees in the Service category of this year's Core77 Design Awards prove it. From efforts to help women better understand their financial systems to a punchcard for ordering pizza, the projects illustrate the breadth and depth of service design.
Take some time to peruse the 11 entries the jury chose as honorees from the 2014 program. Read on to see what the team—led by Tennyson Pinheiro of Livework Studio—said about the projects that stood out most to them:
Professional Winner: The damda, by M&M
Facing our mortality as humans is practically inconceivable, not to mention something that not many people voluntarily likes to discuss. The damda, designed by M&M, is a toolkit for those facing their own or a family member's death, enabling the user to better cope with his or her loss and live out the rest of their days in a meaningful manner. The kit itself consists of tools that will help the user record their past and present activities—a printer, paper and a compact note scanner. The jury called the work "to cry for." They continue: "The designer brilliantly spotted a delicate time span in people's lives that is priceless and designed a service to make sure it can be experienced as it should be. Great empathetic eye."
» Learn more about The damda
Student Winner: Kandu, by Bahareh Shahriari
Information on reproductive health and family planning is a resource that is often lacking even in the first world, to say nothing of the developing world. In countries where the discussing the topic publicly isn't socially acceptable, it can be hard to unite women in a way that's both safe to them, informative and unifying as a community. Kandu was designed by CIID student Bahareh Shahriari specifically for women in Iran. The jury's thoughts: "A simple and easy to implement service, relying lightly on technology, with the potential to deliver maximum social impact."
» Learn more about Kandu
Professional Runner Up: PillPack—Pharmacy Simplified, by PillPack
Through intuitive and appealing packaging and a delivery service, PillPack is making it easier than ever to take your daily dose without worrying about taking the wrong medication or amount. Each individually packaged dose lists when to take the medication and the specific pills housed inside. While there are other subscription services for drugs already out there, the jury thought there was one aspect that put this work above the rest: "The breakthrough in my opinion is on the 'right-dose' package. This is a clever and well executed one that addresses a huge known problem. Difficult model, with an incredible difficult ecosystem."
» Learn more about PillPack—Pharmacy Simplified
Professional Runner Up: Care Maps: Transforming Diabetes Care with Peer-to-Peer Support, by CIID Consulting
Tracking diabetes is a constant job. CIID Consulting designed app that facilitates a peer-to-peer community of those living with Type II Diabetes for Novo Nordisk. The app tracks personal progress and disease monitoring, while location-based features cultivate local community services and activities for users. Even though the jury had some reservations about the actual involvement the app would see, they applaud the work: "A peer-to-peer service that can be extended to the community and physicians. It is unclear about the sustainability of this P2P user+physical relation as those professionals tend to have a busy frantic schedule. Overall, I believe the solution has its place."
» Learn more about Care Maps: Transforming Diabetes Care with Peer-to-Peer Support
Student Runner Up: The Library Compass—A Strategy for Public Libraries in Times of Digitalization, by Andreas Schuster
The transition to fully digital libraries has been a slow one, much to the chagrin of millenials looking to find a reference or light reading, and find it fast. TU Munich Industrial Design student Andreas Schuster has introduced a system that will make the digitizing transition easier on both ends. The Library Compass consists of a navigation app and iBeacon-enabled bookshelves for easy finding. "Loved the simple prototyping sessions and to see how the design team advanced the concept with users via those prototypes," says the jury. "Also the student showed a good service design maturity level by choosing not to focus too much on showcasing tools but, instead, kept both eyes on the user the whole time."
» Learn more about The Library Compass—A Strategy for Public Libraries in Times of Digitalization
The honorees of the Equipment category in the 2014 Core77 Design Awards do a great job keeping us more aware of and resilient to the unknowns of living life. Their preventative properties allow us to independently manage ourselves and help others in need, depending on the function. Whether it's helping a person in need or staying safe on the job, the equipment we use on a daily basis can easily be the one tool that's keeping us—or the person/environment we're attending to—alive and thriving.
From life-saving medical equipment to stylish retail tools, this year's honorees cover all types of situations, making this consistently one of the most well-received categories of the program. See what the jury—led by Sohrab Vossoughi of Ziba Design—had to say about their selections:
Professional Winner: Illumagear Halo, by Pensar and Illumagear
Illumagear and Pensar's Halo light works to keep construction workers more visible in a helmet lamp that fits most existing hardhats. Not only is the design fairly indestructible—the team puts it through a rigorous abuse test—the light is powered by a rechargeable battery attached to a belt or pocket via flexible, safety-release cord. The jury appreciates its necessity: "We all agree that this product is spot-on; it is clever and simple and solves a real need. The way this idea is executed is brilliant—it's high level of functionality and straightforward interface allows it to easily integrate into the daily routine of a worker. Though simple, the final solution takes into consideration various usage scenarios. Where some may have stopped at the iconic halo of light this entrant continues to add various lighting modes to suit the task at hand."
» Learn more about Ilumagear Halo
Student Winner: Airgo, by Philip Nordmand Andersen
A jackhammer can do damage to much more than the ground beneath it if used incorrectly. Umeâ Institute of Design student Philip Normand Andersen pulls the strain off of the worker with an ergonomic wheel-arm, anti-vibration handles and a vibration monitoring app. The jury was impressed by the problem solving in the design: "The student did a great job identifying an opportunity and solving it in a way that feels natural and simple. Aesthetically, the object feels appropriate for the target industry. The key product differentiator is evident at a glance, while other improvements to the equipment are subtly integrated into the precise and sturdy form. Overall, the design solutions are clever, mature and very well integrated."
» Learn more about Airgo
Professional Runner Up: DS4800 Series Bar Code Scanner, by Motorola Solutions Innovation & Design
It doesn't matter if you're in the fanciest of destination hotels or a hole-in-the-wall vintage shop on the wrong side of town, there's one part of the consumer experience that hasn't changed much in the past decade(s): the barcode scanner. It's a small detail, but Motorola Solutions & Design has introduced an option that offers a bit of customized style without compromising performance. The jury was most captured by the scanner's beautiful design: "The form of this piece is beautiful and elegant and suggests a timeless design. There are some very clever features that add to its functionality, such as the window."
» Learn more about DS4800 Series Bar Code Scanner
Professional Runner Up: DIWire, by Pensa
There's a reason the first comment out of the judge's mouths was, "I want one!" Pensa Lab's DIWire puts the power of precise wire bending into the hands of just about anyone. The Kickstarted product allows users to quickly and simply explore shapes and structures via the first desktop CNC wire bender—from clocks to hanging lamp cages, the opportunities are pretty close to endless. "The solution celebrates the process, showcasing the wire bending mechanism, while establishing attributes of precision and durability in strong supporting roles," says the jury. "Every aspect feels appropriate and precisely crafted. This design is not just about the equipment, it's about what the equipment enables. Extending the solution beyond the wire bender, to mini jigs that aid in final assembly of creations, demonstrates a clear understanding of the user needs and commitment to creative enablement."
» Learn more about DIWire
Student Runner Up: NeoNook Neonatal Infant Care, by Alastair Warren and Dawid Dawod
Umeâ Institute of Design students Alastair Warren and Dawid Dawod redesigned the incubator to become more conducive to helping preterm infants heal in a womb-like environment. The system provides breathing assistance while reducing facial pressure and allowing the parents to hold and interact with their child even during treatment. "This student designed a holistic solution to a very complex problem," says the jury. "We appreciated seeing the expression of the different relationships as design considerations (i.e. doctor and baby, mother and baby). The documentation and rigor of the process was excellent."
» Learn more about NeoNook Neonatal Infant Care
Student Runner Up: Gerridae—Ground Sensitive Harvester, by Ilteris Ilbasan
The Gerridae—Ground Sensitive Harvester is designed to minimize the damage done during forestry operations. Umeâ Institute of Design student Ilteris Ilbasan created a vehicle that's almost half the weight of current harvesters with a flexibility that enables better access to cabin, easier transportation, better visibility and improved articulation. The jury was impressed by the attention to detail in the various cases the machine could be used: "This student demonstrated a really deep level of thinking and very comprehensive solution to a specific problem. The articulation throughout the equipment is impressive. We liked that the student thought through the various use cases and how the object would need to contract and expand depending on what it was doing (i.e. harvesting, being transported)."
» Learn more about Gerridae—Ground Sensitive Harvester
Every semester, a group of students and faculty from the University of Massachusetts and Yestermorrow Design/Build school embark on a task of sustainable proportions, otherwise known as the Semester in Sustainable Design/Build program. Their project from Fall 2013, Carton House, was recently named a Professional Notable in the Educational Initiatives category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards. That specific semester, 11 students and three faculty members were assigned to help their client in Bennington, Vermont, take on a more sustainable lifestyle through the home she lived in and worked from. Within 16 weeks (barely—more on that later), the team designed and created a 350 sq. ft. mobile home that also incorporates an office space. "There are really two tough aspects to our design," says the design team. "Building something that is (legally) portable and making sure our process allows broad ownership throughout our group."
The team had to take note of the height, width and length restrictions enforced by Vermont's Department of Transportation, as well as restrictions on the size of the trailer they use to transport the house. "The trick was making a volumetric constraint a catalyst for good design," says the faculty team. "The Carton House was able to really create an engaging space while maximizing area and architectural interest. I can't commend our students highly enough on this one."
But the more difficult of the considerations was keeping cohesive communication throughout the entire project. "The grace of the dynamic really comes in our individual abilities to relinquish control of ideas to the group," says the faculty team. "If we do this well—again, my hat goes off to our team this year—the design is owned collectively. While we all start to focus on different aspects (kitchen layout, siding details, roof assembly), we maintain appropriate levels of group input and response. It's a pretty remarkable process that we discuss at the beginning of the course and keep our eyes on throughout."
In addition to the communication challenges and government constraints, the experience of working with physical boundaries of mobility makes this much more than a study in sustainable materials. The group encountered transportation issues part the government ordinances on trailer and house size. "It was a pretty humbling dose of reality when we considered overhead wires and low bridges as wildly concrete design constraints.
Of all the categories of the Core77 Design Awards, the Writing & Commentary category is perhaps nearest and dearest to us.
After all, Core77 has been an outlet for the ever-evolving conversation of design thinking and criticism for nearly two decades now, and we are excited to recognize these signification contributions to the discourse. Led by design writer Alissa Walker, the energetic jury team selected winners that range from
bread-and-butter topics such as typography and scale models to esoteric essays on the likes of Zoolander and Russian sausages.
Professional Winner: Arts and Letters, by Aileen Kwun
Taking a cue from Wallace Steven's "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," Aileen Kwun's "Arts and Letters" explores 26 different thought processes on typography. The essay was published in Colophone Foundry's "FIVE YEARS," also served as an accompanying catalogue to an exhibit of the same name. The jury appreciated the essay's memorable content: "The innovative format of this unusual essay is what made it such a standout from all the other entries: It's a piece on design that plays with the design of the storytelling, as well. It's a reminder to all writers that the story isn't simply in the words, it's in how they are presented—sometimes in the most literal ways. Although some of us initially felt skeptical about this essay, right around the donuts, we were hooked. This is the line that turned us: 'Not all donuts are created equally; some are unholey.' Also, this was the only essay that had lines we actually wanted to remember: 'Letters are tools for words, and words are tools for meaning. If a house is a machine for living, a book is a machine for thinking, and a typeface is a machine for writing. We are always building.'"
» Learn more about Arts and Letters
Student Winner: Super Models or: Some (Scale) Models That I'd Like to Know, by Ian Besler
To many, the scale model is the beginning of a project. To Art Center College of Design student Ian Besler, it's grounds for an entire investigation. His essay, "Super Models or: Some (Scale) Models That I'd Like to Know" is a dive into the bigger topics scale models bring to design, like digital vs. handmade and relative size in digital space. His piece stands behind the idea that scale models are used more as accuracy tools and a means to explore spatial relationships. "Fantastic! A new way of looking at a common thing, smart without using convoluted academic language—hooray! Out of all the entries submitted for the Core77 writing awards (both student and professional), this was the best piece we read. It combined solid writing with the unique exploration of the practical and cultural purposes a scale model serves. The tone was conversational and the observations illuminating. The best part: The reference to Zoolander was quite irresistible."
» Learn more about Super Models or: Some (Scale) Models That I'd Like to Know
The numbers don't lie: In 2012, 4,628 construction workers were killed on the job from a number of hazards—falls, scaffold collapse, electric shock, failure to use proper personal equipment. Pensar and Illumagear took note of that last threat and got to work.
The HALO Light is an LED light ring that attaches to a number of hard hat styles for increased visibility—and the Professional Winner in the Equipment category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards. Take note of that universal fit mention, because according to the designers it wasn't an easy task. "Attaching to any hard hat quickly and easily was a serious challenge," says Pensar's Creative Director Alex Diener. "We evaluated 50+ hardhats to ensure the Halo fits almost any hard hat. The most popular hard hats were scanned and brought into CAD. We held cross-disciplinary brainstorms to explore many options—from ratcheting bands and elastic straps to cam systems. A trial-and-error process of iterative model making followed. There were many failures, but it refined our approach and priorities: simple, no tools and fast to install/remove."
Check out the light in action:
From permanent installations to temporary structures, perhaps no area of design reflects our current cultural disposition more than the deesign of space itself. This year's submissions for the Interiors & Exhibitions category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards did a fantastic job of reminding us of the many ways it can be interpreted. The jury team, led by Geoff Manaugh, recognized a dozen entries this year, from thought-provoking student concepts to impactful improvements to extant spaces.
Professional Winner: Sustainability Treehouse, by Volume Inc. and Studio Terpeluk
Volume Inc. and Studio Terpeluk teamed up to bring sustainability to an organization known for its commitment to tradition. Not only does their Sustainability Treehouse for the Boy Scouts of America place visitors in a sustainable environment, it also tells a story through important facts and suggestions. "While the project risks falling into kitsch or even cliché, it nonetheless manages to be an imaginative and highly inspiring sequence of spaces for just the right age of user, the young Scouts who are its intended audience," says Jury Captain Geoff Manaugh. "The Treehouse also brings a message of sustainability—of personal responsibility, recognition of one's own environmental limits and respect for the needs of others, both now and in the future—to an organization that might normally skip that message in favor of the Boy Scouts' traditional focus on masculine self-determination. That makes this an important yet playful space, and one that's beautifully designed both architecturally and graphically."
» Learn more about Sustainability Treehouse
Student Winner: Blastproof: A Hands-on Exhibition about Humanitarian Mine Removal, by Chris Natt
Landmines are but a vicarious news item (or metaphor) for most of us, but they are a daily reality for residents of war-torn nations. Royal College of Art student Chris Natt brings us an interactive look into the daily lives of the people responsible for removing the weapons from conflict-affected areas. Throughout the exhibit, visitors can interact with electronic replicas of the devices and experience the visuals that go hand-in-hand with the explosives. "Fascinating R&D with a critical subtext: Reactive training tools that enhance the perception of mine hazards," says juror Hayley Eber. "The museum-based detonation triggers a range of auditory, visual and tactile stimuli to communicate the event. It would be great if the installation could find a permanent home, and the prototypes went beyond 3D printing." Fellow juror Jake Barton appreciates the attention to the sensitive material: "It's really, really hard to make something that horrific be both experiential, impactful, and also respectful. I think it's the right mix and a great achievement."
» Learn more about Blastproof: A Hands-on Exhibition about Humanitarian Mine Removal
Professional Runner Up: Breaking the Mold—VarVac Wall, by HouMinn Practice
It goes unsaid that an architecture school has to be housed within a memorable structure. The University of Minnesota School of Architecture looked to HouMinn Practice to give them a front office worthy of a a few photo ops. The VarVac Wall works specifically with sound—some sections of the wall absorb it while others reflect noise. The ultra-textured surface is made of vacuum-formed panels that are either solid or perforated, depending on their function. "This strikingly realized tweaking of a relatively common manufacturing process shows at least one way for new architectural designs to be realized in the tooling and fabrication stage, where aesthetic results—and these wall panels are definitely gorgeous—emerge less from a designer's own palate and more from the materials themselves," says Manaugh. "On a technical level, as well, this system points toward intriguing future overlaps between the realization of architectural systems and the production of industrial products."
» Learn more about Breaking the Mold—VarVac Wall
Professional Runner Up: Architecture Factory, by Marc O Riain (CIT) and Neil Tobin (RKD)
We live in a time where shipping containers are finding more applications—or at least more media exposure—as trendy space solutions beyond the shipping industry. Marc O'Riain of the Cork Institute of Technology (CIC) and Neil Tobin of RKD Architects have incorporated a series of containers into an open office space plan. Architecture Factory turns the CIC's Department of Architecture into a collaborative space despite the claustrophobic size constraints of a single shipping container. Jurors Yen Ha and Michi Yanagishita appreciated this contrast: "The project presents a different approach to shipping containers by using them not just as containers, but as walls and dividers of space. A great project that defines space without creating barriers, providing visual interest and continuity."
» Learn more about Architecture Factory
Student Runner Up: Cocoon, by Tanya Shukstelinsky
Our living spaces are becoming smaller, but at least our floorplans are keeping up with the trend and more creative ways to embrace (and use every inch of) the space we have are popping up. You won't want to make a permanent home out of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design student Tanya Shukstelinsky's Cocoon, but it is an intriguing look at the way our public spaces define our personal territories. The structure is made of textiles sewn together to create stairs, sleeping areas and other living areas. The jury team had a few situational suggestions for this design: "the implications for things like tent design or portable camping shelters—let alone children's play rooms—are fascinating to consider," says Manaugh. Ha and Yanagishita had another idea: "Cocoon reduces the idea of what it means to be in a space to the bare minimum. Definitely the new hammock for start up tech offices."
» Learn more about Cocoon
When you think about it, the basic forms of quintessential articles of furniture—I'm talking desks, chairs, couches, stools, work lamps and pendant fixtures—largely consist of variations on a theme. As such, furniture designers innovate through the details from new manufacturing methods and materials to integrating functionality that speaks to our mobile, tech-enhanced lifestyles. This much is apparent in seing the honorees for the Furniture & Lighting category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards.
While the selections from Jury Captain Naihan Li and her Beijing-based jury team may look familiar at first glance, closer inspection reveals that each one is customized to fit a certain lifestyle-driven need.
Professional Winner: Gesture, by Steelcase Design and Glen Oliver Loew
As more and more of us spend more and more time basking in the warm glow of a screen, so too do we spend more time in our office chairs. With these digital tendencies in mind, Glen Oliver Loew designed Gesture for Steelcase (with help from its internal design team). The jury appreciated the chair's origin as a research project: "This project began as a global study on human body gesture and resulted in a stylish chair that will not only carry you comfortably in a work environment, but support you in every move you make while seated. Furniture design can be as advanced as any new technology we use today and an advance in office chair design has the potential to benefit thousands as our lifestyles evolve. By providing a more dynamic support to the body, this chair attempts to encourage movement while we interact with the handheld digital devices we love."
» Learn more about Gesture
Student Winner: SOAK Charging Side Table, by Youmin Vincent Kim
Recently graduated from the Youmin Vincent Kim's SOAK charging station redefines the humble side table as a 'platform' for mobile devices. Furthermore, the Art Center College of Design student cleverly managed to tuck the power supply for the induction charging surface into its very construction: "The leg emerging from the wall to accommodate the main power plug is an artistic solution to the inelegance of wired products. Our daily need to repeatedly charge our digital devices can now be achieved casually by leaving them on a side table—a thoughtful and functional object design that surprises you by the advanced technology embodied within a playful yet elegant form."
» Learn more about SOAK Charging Side Table
Professional Runner Up: Lightwing, by Jean Marie Massaud
Lightwing brings a new level of interaction to the way we illuminate our spaces while remaining relatively inconspicuous. Designed by Jean Marie Massaud for Foscarini, the lamp features adjustable screens, allowing the user to cast a glow wherever it's most needed. The jury noted the artistic aesthetic of the lamp: "Minimalist and elegant, this is a delicate and fluid lighting design. The history of elegance can only be enhanced by new technology, which is the case here where a clever magnetic sphere provides fluid, multi-directional movement as the light transforms from an ambient light to a reading lamp. It utilizes a new LED lighting system and technically advanced industrial production to make a bold and artistic statement in its form and in the interactive nature of the motion the lamp achieves."
» Learn more about Lightwing
Student Runner Up: Dynamik Standing Desk, by Brian Pughe and Conor Brown
Virginia Tech's Brian Pughe and Conor Brown have developed an interesting take on a contemporary trend with the Dynamik Standing Desk. Made from steel and wood, the desk has a sleek appeal for users of all stripes, but it's the the strap of felt that serves as a knee rest that wowed the jury: "Clever usage of something as economical as a belt makes this desk design more than a place to lay your books. It is a simple yet effective solution to rest in public space, allowing one to fully engage with others even if the interaction will last longer than your legs can hold out. This standing desk also gives new function to an existing furniture type with minimum alteration.
» Learn more about Dynamik Standing Desk
Ever more powerful portable devices increasingly enable our always on-the-go lifestyles, yet even the fastest microprocessor needs a power supply, and we find ourselves tethered to outlets in moments of repose, and (mis)managing the wires, cables and cords that serve as veritable lifelines for our power-hungry handhelds. It should come as no surprise that the backup battery industry is booming, but what about the way we reboot at home?
Instead of attempting to achieve invisibility through reduction, Youmin Vincent Kim has seen fit to hide a charger in plain sight. Jury captain Naihan Li and her team recognized the Korean designer's SOAK Charging Side Table as the winner of the Furniture & Lighting category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards.
Like many of us, Kim was frustrated by ad hoc solutions. "When I see designers try to combine furniture with technological devices—like cords hanging from the center of a work conference table—it ceases to look like furniture to me, or at least it's not something you would want in your home," Kim says. "It's messy and unconstructed." The only thing that betrays SOAK's embedded functionality is its proximity to an outlet, which peeks out from a half-leg that appears to be melting into the wall.
It's not just for show: the back leg conceals a power cord, which is connected to a wireless charging plate embedded in the tabletop. Although the plug itself fits neatly into the hollowed-out dummy leg, a short length of cord offers the flexibility to accommodate different outlet heights. Similarly, Kim is also considering international standards. "There are several types and sizes of electrical outlets depending on what country users live in. I have been working on making the plug universal so that it will work anywhere."
There's something singularly rewarding—magical, even— about sketching an idea, taking stock of materials on hand, crunching numbers on backs of envelopes, and then actually making it into a real thing... which is why we're always excited to see the projects in the DIY category of the Core77 Design Awards. And while many of the honorees seen here can be reproduced, with a bit of time and effort, by any maker out there, Awards duly recognize the folks who came up with them in the first place. Moreover, these projects are fun—which, as well all know, is as one of the most important aspects of DIY culture.
Led by Ayah Bdeir of littleBits, the jury team selected eight projects, which they felt best manifested the vitality and enthusiasm of the DIY community, for top honors this year.
Winner: NeoLucida, by Pablo Garcia and Golan Levin
Inspired by the 19th century Camera Lucida, NeoLucida is a drawing aid that helps artists reproduce subjects by tracing a superimposed image from a prism. The jury was most impressed with Pablo Garcia and Golan Levin's ability to update a historic tool into a modern and functional device: "There is something beautiful about art that allows other people to make art. It takes an old technology that is obsolete, revitalizes it and makes it open and accessible to people everywhere to make for themselves."
» Learn more about Neolucida
Runner Up: Tri-Horse, by Brian Campbell
On a search for stability, woodworker Brian Campbell designed a three-point sawhorse design fro Fine Homebuilding Magazine that faired much better than the quadruped designs out there. Tri-Horse is made completely from plywood and serves a myriad of purposes—from miter saw and table saw stands to a general catch-all station for your portable workspace. The jury appreciated the way the design encourages DIY spirit: "The Tri-Horse takes a very common tool whose flaws we have come to accept and re-engineers it in a simple but effective way. Like the Neolucida, we like tools that empower people to make their own DIY objects."
» Learn more about Tri-Horse
Interaction design has increasingly been supplementing (if not outright supplanting) industrial design when it comes to many of the products that we use on a daily basis, and technology continues to promise new ways to interact with objects, both within and without ubiquitous touchscreens. The Internet of Things may not yet be evenly distributed, but the Interaction category of the Core77 Design Awards continues to celebrate not only what's new and next but also the experiments and breakthroughs of the future made real.
Even so, the content itself is often familiar—if not outright commonplace—which only underscores how new modes of interactions have the potential to reinvent age-old experiences such as socializing, storytelling and wayfinding. Led by Jury Captain Aaron Siegel of Fabrica, the jury selected these projects and products—over a dozen in all—for top honors in the Interaction category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards.
Professional Winner: Sadly By Your Side, by Angelo Semeraro and Davide Cairo
Turn your iPhone into a visual and musical remixing tool with Angelo Semeraro and Davide Cairo's Sadly By Your Side. Bring each song in the 8-track album to life by using the app in conjunction with the imagery in the accompanying booklet, or by 'scanning' the real world. By deeply integrating disparate media—an album, book and iOS app—the project easily stood out to the jury: "Sadly by Your Side captivated us visually and emotionally. It explored an interaction paradigm that was new to most people, and it bridged a number of disciplines and mediums while also rethinking how we experience music, causing the user to become a part of the composition process."
» Learn more about Sadly By Your Side
Student Winner: inFORM: A Dynamic Shape Display, by Tangible Media Group
MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group turned heads with their Dynamic Shape Display, and for good reason. The device turns digital data into virtual objects that can be manipulated in real life, allowing users to play with things that aren't actually there. "The integration of telepresent characteristics helps bridge the virtual divide with the additional fidelity of experience through haptic feedback," says the jury. "While we would love to see this scaled, we thought that even this prototype demonstration was extremely compelling and the fact that it got us talking for a lengthy amount of time about its different applications in the world very much pointed to its worthiness."
» Learn more about inFORM: A Dynamic Shape Display
Although the perennial buzz around 3D printing has yet to materialize into a proper industrial revolution, the increasingly powerful technology has gained some traction in the medical world, where customizability and on-site availability trump the constraints of cost and scale. It may come as no surprise, then, that one of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards honorees that caught our eye was developed by a previous winner, whose work we'd covered as far back as 2010, before the the inaugural awards program.
This time around, Scott Summit took Professional Runner Up in the Social Impact category with the EKSO personal exoskeleton, a mecha-like medical device at the intersection of robotics, rehabilitation and digital fabrication. As a replacement for a wheelchair, the device has the potential to revolutionize mobility for paraplegic individuals.
Summit shares credit with Gustavo Fricke, 3D Systems and Ekso Bionics, all of whom worked together to print parts that connect a person to their robot as naturally and respectively as possible. "This is an unusual design effort on every front," designer Scott Summit says. "We had challenges with the technical details, since these are massive files, and almost entirely organic, but very precise. It's also very tricky to scan a paralyzed person, and expect the data to be exactly as desired. We found that even the slightest detail could lead to dangerous bruising." All of that considered, the prototypes have been met with a great response. The test pilot loves it so much, she wants to use it all of the time. But like many of these things go, the team has to wait until the design is FDA certified to be worn daily.