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."
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."
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."
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."
Professional Notable: Arctic Zone Self-Inflating Cooler, by Arctic Zone
With the boom of small spaces and our constant search for the product that works wonders when in use and practically disappears when not being used, we've seen a lot of clever breakdown methods. Arctic Zone's Self-Inflating Cooler dials down into a small, compact roll and inflates in no time. The jury was unanimous: "We all wanted one!"
Professional Notable: ToolLodge Tool Drawer Organizer, by Melinda Young
When you drop the dough on the quality tools, you'll want to take care of them when they're not in use. Melinda Young's ToolLodge is a sheet-like system made to be inserted into drawers featuring indented spots for your tools. Even better: You organize and create the indentations by pressing your tools into the material for a perfect fit. "Excellent use of a material for a very straightforward task—elegantly solves a problem that many of us wouldn't have ever thought about but would be life-changing for some key people," says the jury. "Great idea—perhaps more material engineering here than design."
Student Notable: Angl°, by Joakim Bergbom, Taís Mauk, Júlia Nacsa and Yedan Qian
Not only is it a notable interaction design project, but Angl is exceptional within the soft goods category as well. Designed by Joakim Bergbom, Taís Mauk, Júlia Nacsa and Yedan Qian, the athletic accessory introduces musical cues for training. Angl° allows users monitor their intensity and form with music—when you're doing it all right, the music is in tune; hit a slump and the music will distort. "Angl° is an interesting idea which proposes a very practical solution to a chronic and ever expanding problem," says the jury. "I think the focus on running, while close to my own heart, misses the enormous number of desk bound workers who would benefit from this concept. A great start to a product that could offer so much."
Student Notable: Jacket for the Urban Gatherer, by Lou Moria
Lou Moria, a student at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, has taken the essence of a modern nomad and turned it into a beautiful multi-use jacket. The designer cites the previous rule of the "ancient hunter-gatherer culture" previous to our more agriculturally focused lifestyles. The jacket features built-in pockets for collecting objects, protective gloves and a hood that can also be worn as a scarf. "While I think there is some work to be done to validate that this product would contribute to the larger problem it seeks to solve, it is beautiful and an elegant solution to the idea of a piece of clothing that does double duty as a device for carrying objects," says the jury.