It's that time of year again: Today the IDSA announced the winners of the 2012 International Design Excellence Awards, the "Oscars of Design" that celebrates the best industrial design work from around the globe, categorized into a multitude of categories. While you can head on over to their page to see the full list, we sifted through the Gold Winners to pick the ones we thought would be of most interest to the Core77 readership.
This'll be a long entry, so set your project to render, grab a cup of coffee and dive in.
Commercial & Industrial Products
Crown RM 6000S MonoLift Reach Truck
We've seen plenty of designs that reflect the brilliance of an individual designer, but the Crown RM 6000S MonoLift Reach Truck speaks of multidisciplinary teamwork. It is only through a skillful collaboration of design, engineering and manufacturing that you're able to achieve such a standout object—it's ergonomically sound, looks good, and has an innovative construction that gives it a clear performance superiority over competing machines.
The MonoLift improves the operator experience by allowing them to choose between sitting, leaning or standing while operating the machine. It also ditches the dual pillars you've seen on every other forklift, opting instead for a single-column mast design that improves operator visibility. You'd imagine reducing the amount of supports would reduce the vehicle's lifting power, but to the contrary, the MonoLift can "lift heavier loads higher than any other reach truck," and can pull off this insane-sound task:
The most challenging reach truck task involves aligning the forks to a 3.5-inch tall pallet opening that is 42 feet above the floor. The RM 6000 makes this task easier with enhanced visibility and greater truck stability, improving operator confidence and productivity as well as reducing the risk of damage to product, racks and truck.
The RM 6000 runs 25 percent longer between recharging and lifts up to 30 percent higher and 1,000 pounds more than other reach trucks without growing the truck's physical size or footprint. A reach truck is no longer the limiting factor in warehouse operations because going higher no longer means using larger trucks with reduced capacity in wider warehouse aisles. Operations managers gain the flexibility of placing heavy loads at almost any height in the racks, simplifying warehouse logistics and maximizing space utilization. New warehouses can be built taller with denser aisles, saving capital investment—it's less costly to build up versus out.
The RM 6000 has exceeded expectations. In less than one year, sales have doubled original projections and businesses that were once brand loyal to competitors have switched to Crown.
Crown Equipment Corporation:
Ben Purrenhage (Tekna Inc.)
Eric Hanson (Caterpillar Inc.)
Robert Henshaw of Formation Design
They say you can only improve at a sport by competing against better players, and it is for that reason we're thankful for Apple; the envy created by their design and manufacturing has spurred once-complacent companies like Nokia to try to seize the design reins. As everyone starts upping their game, the consumer and the design world benefit.
Nokia's sleek Lumia 900 is miles apart from the stodgy offerings of years past, and is intended to stand out brightly from the sea of black rectangles now flooding the smartphone market. Special attention was paid to both the form factor and how it integrates with the UI:
From the working design principles to the actual visual expression, the design team strove to ensure that the physical form and digital user interface perfectly complement each other.
Everything about the Lumia 900 begins and ends with the user. The design team followed a key principle: what is left out is just as important as what is included. This focus on the essentials resulted in a balanced product that is elegantly simple and deceptively easy to use.
The Lumia 900 was designed to feel human and to fit beautifully in the hand. At first glance, it looks advanced and feels progressive. The sleek form of the polycarbonate unibody flows seamlessly into the curved Gorilla glass display. This blurs the boundary between physical and digital, and accentuates the tactile experience of the swiping gesture that is core to the user interface. Laminating the display module directly to the 3D glass gives the appearance that the content is swimming on the surface. It brings simplicity and a quiet intrigue that is beautiful to the eye, but complex to achieve.
The designers scrutinized every detail to ensure visual purity and functional superiority. Examples of this attention include CNC milling of all part interfaces and speaker holes, printing of product details on the SIM card drawer to reduce unnecessary noise from the body, and the custom-designed audio jack that allows positioning concentrically to the main radius of the device.
Designed from the inside out, the shell is made from a single piece of injection molded polycarbonate. The body is molded using a pigment that provides inherent color through and through. This solid color substrate serves to hide any scratches and dings. This process also allows the Lumia 900 to inject color into a dominantly monochrome market.
Nokia Design - Tina Aarras, Casper Asmussen, Anton Fahlgren, Lynda Jones, Nicolas Lylyk, Mika Nenonen, Axel Meyer
Beats by Dr. Dre - Beats Mixr
With the original Beats by Dr. Dre Studio and Pro models having conquered the recording studio world, the Beats empire now sets their sights on the global party scene with their Mixr. The Mixr is designed to be powerful but lightweight, and feature rotating earcups so the DJ can quickly flip one up to hear what that partygoer is trying to say to you over the decks.
The audio quality is of the same high standards as other Beats offerings, with the volume levels "optimized to perform in loud high-noise environments without compromising the studio-quality sound." And of course, it's the excellent physical design that got the Mixr onto this list:
Visually and technically simplified, the Mixr allows use of the full headband elasticity for great flexibility. A metal hinge is used for rotation and translation. The cast-aluminum loop keeps the lower area rigid, supporting the ear cup and allowing proper horizontal rotation, protecting the audio cable and bulletproofing the usually prone-to-failure rotation hinge area.
While mixing in a dark environment, the left and the right ear cups can be differentiated by a small protruding bump on the inner cover of the right hinge. Swiveling ear cups allow users to conveniently rotate the ear cups 180 degrees in order to listen to the external environment, providing users with a direct connection between the music and the audience. Dual 3.5 mm jacks on the bottom of each ear cup give users maximum flexibility to make sure the headphone cable doesn't get in the way and also allow users to share music by daisy chaining devices. The cable itself is 6 feet long and is coiled at the bottom for freedom of movement without getting tangled in the cord.
Ammunition - Robert Brunner, Gregoire Vandenbussche
Corporate Sponsor: Beats by Dr. Dre
One-burner portable induction hob (CTN431SC01)
They say "home is where the hearth is," but for college students, the dorm room is where the hotplate is. Samsung's suh-weet 21st-Century update to the humble ramen-making, dorm-room-fire-starting hotplate is the sexy object you see above.
Though saddled with the rather unsexy name of CTN431SC01, the portable induction burner has been the subject of much design thought, both aesthetic and functional:
Based on a user-centered design and eco-friendly technologies, the design of the CTN431SC01 minimized all unnecessary elements to increase usability. Aesthetic elements were maximized to produce a simple exterior that strikes harmony with the surrounding environment no matter where it is placed. When in off mode, the CTN431SC01 demurely stands on any countertop or cook surface. When turned on, the subtle illumination scheme highlights the controls while still maintaining its simple elegance.
The ergonomically shaped base sits comfortably in the hand as users cup the base when adjusting the controls. The recessed touch-wheel control places the highest priority on convenience, letting users intuitively choose the burner power level by easily gliding their fingers around the recessed dial. When interacting with the controls, the glass surface offers a pleasing tactile experience. This glossy surface also repels food stains and is easy to clean. The bottom parting line was designed for cooking safety; it prevents internal water leaks and enables easy product repair.
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. - Gilock Lee, JungKyung Kwack
Leisure & Recreation
Wearable technology is not a crowded field in terms of actual uptake; you've got the wristwatch and maybe the iPod Nano as some of the only contenders. But Nike's shaking up the field with their FuelBand, which provides athletes with a sort of magic bracelet that tracks their expended energy. But what really gives it that something extra is how Nike's incorporated an ecosystem to create a community: By turning expended energy into a currency—NikeFuel—athletes can share and compare that currency with each other over the web, providing extra motivation.
The challenge was to grow the Nike+ community by creating an authentic experience that enables all athletes to be the best they can be all day, every day. The following insights allowed the designers to formulate a strategy that would solve this challenge: make the invisible visible because you can't improve what you can't measure; enable athletes across multiple sports and activities to compare, compete and collaborate by creating a common social currency; provide continuous motivational feedback on users' progress; design for all-day comfort and aesthetics; make it user friendly, intuitive and fun; and create the ultimate motivator for everyday athletes to do more.
Users start by setting a target for how active they'd like to be each day. A built-in three-axis accelerometer measures their physical activities, and a single button interface shows them how much NikeFuel they've earned and how close they are to their daily goals. Fitness becomes a game as users track their progress from red to green throughout the day. When they reach their goals, the band celebrates with them. The FuelBand effortlessly syncs to the mobile app through Bluetooth or to the Nike+ website through the built-in USB. Through the online community users can tap into a chain of inspiration. They can compete with themselves or share results with friends to compare, compete and celebrate; see personal activity graphs for the day, week, month and year; unlock achievements and celebrations as they reach new milestones; and share their successes or challenge friends via Facebook and Twitter.
The Nike+ FuelBand is designed to fit the active lifestyle with its sport-inspired aesthetic and all-day comfort. The complexity of the device is hidden within a soft outer skin, sculpted to emphasize its slender profile and beveled to draw attention to the color LEDs; every detail has a purpose. It comes in three sizes and uses an integrated link system for fine fit adjustment. It is powered by two curved lithium polymer batteries that conform to the curve of the wrist.
Nike Digital Sport Design Team, Astro Studios, RGA
Living Room & Bedroom
LED Clear Bulb
This is the industrial design version of "The more something changes, the more it stays the same." While most LED bulb manufacturers are creating wildly new form factors, Panasonic's LED Clear Bulb strives to retain not only the incumbent incandescent's form, but also "the mood, quality and look." Technological prowess shoehorns the LED into something with the appearance of a filament, meaning even Thomas Edison would have to look twice. The 40,000-hour projected lifespan should make the LED pill go down smoother with incandescent holdouts by appealing to their logic; the form factor and glow, however, is designed to appeal to their emotions.
The incandescent bulb was originally created to emulate the comforting soft-warm glow of a candle light. Many people resist switching to LEDs because they do not want to give up this warm glow and the look of an incandescent. The LED Clear Bulb addresses these needs and bridges the psychological gap, making the transition easy and seamless.
Conventional LED bulbs disperse light directionally, unlike an incandescent bulb, which disperses light in all directions creating a warm glow. They also have a bulky and unsightly heat sink and functional components. The challenges were to design an LED light source and components to disperse light in all directions and to eliminate the heat sink and make compact components that fit the overall shape and dimension of an incandescent bulb.
The design team created a clear LED bulb that re-creates the look, function and quality of an incandescent bulb. The LED light source in the LED Clear Bulb resembles the filament found in an incandescent bulb. The filament is mounted on an aluminum die-cast rod that dissipates heat, eliminating the need for a bulky heat sink.
This LED Clear Bulb will help increase the adoption of LED bulbs. It enables a seamless transition from an incandescent to an LED because it offers a familiar size, shape and soft warm glow found in incandescent bulbs and that fits in existing light fixtures. Just as Edison strove to re-create candle light with an incandescent bulb, Panasonic has re-created the incandescent bulb with an energy-efficient clear-glass LED bulb.
Panasonic Corporation - Nobuyuki Mase, Haruhiko Uneo
Medical & Scientific Products
Cocoon Open MRI Chair
Being inserted into an MRI machine is no fun, with some claustrophobic patients even requiring mild sedatives to calm them down during the process. On top of that, MRI machines are typically massive, which is not only intimidating to the patient, but demands a large footprint within already space-tight hospitals.
A very unusual piece of furniture/medical machinery is the Cocoon Open MRI Chair, a concept design for MRIs specifically done for spinal exams. The intent was to create a more friendly, open, and accessible design that sets the patient at ease while condensing the technology into a smaller footprint in consideration of hospitals' available square footage.
...Both the problems of space and stress reduction were correlated in this challenge. The anxiety related to lying inside a tunnel is also due to a patient's mental perceptions of the system prior to entering. Turning this first impression into a positive experience that reduces patient stress is one of the greatest benefits inherent to this technology.
The Cocoon Open MRI Chair is helpful for examining patients who are fearful of being in a closed space. The system's reduced footprint is more welcoming to patients; the chair configuration further reduces the perception of mass, so patients will think in terms of space instead of volume. Once patients are placed in the chair, an interior light and openings on each side of the patient provide a safe and open feeling. A video can be projected onto an adjustable, transparent glass to occupy patients during the exam. By reducing patient anxiety, physicians don't need to prescribe mild sedatives.
The decreased volume of the Cocoon Open MRI Chair concept gives clinicians better access. Being able to position the system in the middle of the room provides more flexibility during the workflow. The user interface, a tablet PC, can be placed on the left or right side of the opening, optimizing the clinician's access to information. Locating the interface so close to the opening also allows clinicians to focus more of their attention on the patient during the preparation of the exam.
GE Healthcare - Lionel Wodecki; Ludovic Avot (Graphic Designer)
Office & Productivity
Tools at Schools
If you'd asked the grade-school me to design my own classroom furniture, my inane scribblings would have had call-outs for a time machine, monkey bars on the ceiling and a trapdoor leading to the cafeteria. But the Tools at Schools program, which is aimed at introducing design thinking to students at an early age, somehow wrought more intelligent ideas from a group of eighth graders.
Forty-four kids were engaged to rethink the furniture they engage with every day at school: The locker, desk and chair.
Inspiration for the locker came from some students who referred to their lockers as their bedrooms for the year. The TAS locker incorporates design details such as a doorknob lock, mailbox for notes, a writable and magnetic whiteboard surface, modular storage units and a customizable nameplate that add intimate touches to give students a sense of ownership of their space. The modularity of the TAS desk was designed to meet the needs of different age groups in various sixth to eight grade classroom settings. The accessories system allows for students and teachers to customize the desktop to enhance the given class activity.
Integrated storage solutions on the TAS chair allow students to store their items without sacrificing precious classroom space. The chair incorporates a back hook to hang jackets or bags and a rear storage unit that can be used to hold schoolbooks or personal items. Furthermore, the chair allows for fidgeting, permitting students to gently rock in their chairs, an idea that grew out of the students' feeling that simple movement enhances their ability to focus.
Johan Liden, Rinat Aruh, Olivier Gregoire, Haney Awad, Frank Zaremba, Yifei Zha
The School at Columbia University: Class of 2015
Corporate Sponsor: Jerry Helling and Todd Campbell, Bernhardt Design
Packaging & Graphics
Ecologic Brands Paper Bottle
Plastic is an undeniably handy way to tote liquids like detergents around, but the Ecologic Paper Bottle reveals a brilliant insight: We only need the plastic on the inside of the bottle, not the outside. Hence the EPB achieves a plastic savings of up to 75% compared to a normal bottle, by relegating the plastic to liner status and making up the bulk of the bottle with 100% recycled paper. When the bottle's empty, the user can separate the two materials to easily recycle both. And on the factory end, this unconventional bottle can be filled on a conventional production line with only minor adjustments.
The initial Ecologic idea was a bottle made of two components: a thin liner and a paper structure. Out of that a simple, separable assembly was created. Developing appropriate design solutions to meet physical performance requirements was critical to the bottle's success, and the product's identity was worked into the performance features. Pulp thermoforming was selected for robustness and water resistance. The bottle's surfaces were crowned, and the profile was arched to add strength and improve impact. Addressing capping torque without glue resulted in a visible interlock at the spout and shell. And the design was developed to accommodate natural dimensional variations. Because the empty pouch and outer shells nest densely, one truckload of Ecologic packaging is equivalent to nine truckloads of rigid packaging.
Moving from concept to high-volume production was a challenge to the industry status quo. The detergent co-packing infrastructure fills rigid plastic bottles, but with minor adjustment can fill the Ecologic bottle. Pulp molders produce independent parts, such as disposable plates and bowls, and are not used to contributing to an assembly. Pouch manufacturers use mixed material film to create stiff stand-up pouches, which sacrifice recyclability. Leveraging these attributes was challenging, especially to maintain tolerances and pouch flexibility. The design team also had to ensure that the bottle is easily separable by users. Surviving a logistics chain geared to rigid plastic challenged designers to truly understand the design and step up their game throughout development.
DW Product Development Inc - Romeo Graham, Rob Watters, Mike Sirois
Ecologic Brands Inc - Julie Corbett
The Campus Mini Velo: Redefining Utility
College is the time when you can experiment with all sorts of stuff, and sometimes some of the stuff is even legal! The Campus Mini Velo, a modular bike system that the user can configure, is one such item.
The concept is simple: Sometimes you just need to get across campus in a hurry, other times you're hauling laundry, still other times you're transporting a case of wholesome beverages for a party. The Campus Mini Velo lets you quickly swap different types of cargo racks on and off, making this ride as flexible as an undeclared major. The idea is not only to make the bike useful in a multitude of situations, but also to hopefully steer students away from feeling like they need a car.
The design challenge was to create a versatile bicycle for people who might otherwise drive a car and who would never imagine themselves owning and loving a utility bike. College students were the focus. These students are at a stage in life where they could head down the path of car ownership, but it is also an opportunity to foster a generation of bike users. To motivate students to ride instead of drive, a bicycle must present incentives. It must be practical, affordable and adaptable. It also must connect with students, have great style and be a pleasure to ride.
In reinventing the utility bike, the designers redefined utility to what meets the ever-changing needs of the rider, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach. From time to time a college student will find it necessary to carry large objects. In that same day a student may attend class, visit a friend or go out to eat. The Campus Mini Velo doesn't just carry large loads or get people from place to place, it is designed to fit seamlessly into the lives of its users and is customizable to their changing needs and tastes.
The Campus Mini Velo stands out in a crowd. The distinct trapezoidal frame and mini-velo style with its 20-inch wheels makes space for interchangeable attachments, such as collapsible cargo racks, cup holders and lights. All connection points utilize the same lockable drop pin, allowing the rider to reconfigure the bike without any special tools. The bike can be loaded up with racks and other attachments one minute, then stripped down to the bare essentials the next.
University of Oregon - Teressa Hamje, Matt Raphael, Adam Horbinski, Scott Warneke, Jeremy Androschuk, Ian Kenny, Heath Korvola