Perennially the most popular—and competitive—category of the Core77 Design Awards, Consumer Products encompasses everything from health and wellness to comfort and convenience. If you didn't catch the announcement of the Consumer Products winners back in June (live from our first annual Core77 Conference, no less), here's a closer look at the honorees, along with comments from the jury team led by Johan Liden.
As always, this year's honorees represent a full range of forward-thinking and noteworthy products released in 2013, for which mass market appeal is as much a criteria as the incremental innovations behind these objects. In fact, each of these products represents an upgrade from the average, unremarkable things that you might use everyday to the rarefied canon of products that you actually enjoy using.
Professional Winner: SOMA Water Filter and Carafe, by Moreless & Radius Product Development
It's a simple yet powerful premise: That a humble water carafe might serve as a centerpiece for a kitchen or dining room. Moreless and Radius Product Development rose to the challenge and developed the SOMA Water Filter and Carafe for that very purpose. Here's what the jury had to say: "SOMA is just as much about presentation as it is about purification. While other filtration pitchers may be intended to live on the dinner table, SOMA is the first one that belongs there... When you see it you ask yourself 'Why hasn't anyone done this before?', which we felt is at the heart of great design."
It's easy to see why Mugi Yamamoto's compact inkjet printer earned the praise of designers, including the jury team. Stack sits atop a column of paper and works its way down. The jury appreciated the transparency behind the work: "We loved the deconstruction and reductive thinking of an otherwise clunky, dated device and it's ability to solve for some real world pain points—imagine always knowing if the printer has paper in it!"
Professional Runner Up: Brooks C17 Cambium Saddle, by IDEO
Brooks England made a fantastic choice when they reached out to IDEO to design a covetable yet comfortable bike saddle. The vulcanized rubber and organic cotton construction make for a saddle that is a pleasure to ride straight out of the box, sans break-in time, and the jury took note of the balance between novelty and functionality. "The use of innovative and brand appropriate materials delivers on performance without falling into the traditional performance aesthetic. In fact, we felt that the 'new' materials, which still speak to Brooks tradition of natural, non-synthetics, had the effect of elevating and moving the brand forward. This product was inspirational to us in that it illustrates how impactful a design can be with a considered color, material and finish treatment."
Comfortable medical supplies for toddlers are unfortunately hard to come by and not very accommodating in terms of size and fit. Thus, Umeå Institute of Design's Simon Fredricksson came up with "Ventum," a portable respirator with increased freedom for the wearer—which is an important aspect for those who do wandering best. The jury appreciated the parent's role in the device as well: "This product recognizes that kids want and need to move around and limits disruption of their everyday life while being treated. We appreciated how the concept transformed the experience from a two to one person activity allowing the parent to focus on the wellbeing of the child as opposed to the delivery of oxygen."
Professional Notable: Clip Card Reader, by Box Clever
While mobile payment services have upended traditional sales models and shifted the dynamics of the global economy, the next step of developing hardware for digital transactions remains a hurdle to vendors and service providers alike. Thus, the Box Clever's design for Payclip, Inc., caught the jury's attention: "This is powerful example of how industrial design embodies and shapes a brand. The product truly is the icon, helping drive brand awareness and reinforce the platform from witch both packaging, Logo, and UX are inspired. In addition, unlike some of it's more 'simple' competitors, this product facilitates both swipe and dip transactions while keeping the interface simple and intuitive. The product promises to work for a wide variety of smart devices and is not only intended for one model through its flexible clip badge."
The other pro notable is characterized equally by intuitive functionality and attention to details such as materials: FiftyThree's Pencil is the perfect partner for its Paper app. "We appreciated the use of materials and the holistic approach to the form and function of the hardware and software," says the jury team. "While being highly technical, this product celebrates craftsmanship and an intuitive experience routed in the way you use a traditional pencil."
Even as we live in an increasingly wireless world, wires and cables—and the accessories to manage them—are everywhere. Whereas most solutions are overdesigned at best, Alex Hubbell's "Wire for Wire" resembles a work of art or jewelry in the jury's eyes: "The team was immediately drawn to the playful, graphic nature of this jewelry like product. While we did not 'buy' the notion of self fabrication, we did like the paperclip approach to the common problem of cable management."
Student Notable: Respire, by Hui-Wen Wang & Kasia Burzynska
Allergies can be the reason why some of us choose to remain indoors instead of enjoying a beautiful spring or summer afternoon in the sun. Hui-Wen Wang and Kasia Burzynska—students at the Art Center College of Design—are hoping to alleviate this anxiety with their crowdsourced allergen-tracking app. "Respire" monitors air particles in the environment and provides personal allergen forecasts based on user profiles. The app can be paired with physical artifacts, also of Wang and Burzynska's design: Curity patches (also available in capsules) provide emergency doses of antihistamine. "This concept connects the physical with the digital and leverages 'crowed sourced' data to create a network between caregivers and patients in multiple locations," says the jury. "This product has the potential to free the user from the constant worry of an uncontrolled allergic reaction, they can now be educated on how to take back control of their lives."