A/D/O by MINI | Designs of the Year 2019

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Technology

Designs of the Year 2019

The Design Museum in London has announced its shortlist of this year’s best design projects.

A hands-free breast pump. A home in the depths of a former quarry. A swimwear line for all body shapes. These and 73 more projects are shortlisted for this year’s Beazley Design of the Year 2019 award, organized by London’s Design Museum

Innovative and impactful projects from the fields of Architecture, Graphic, Fashion, Digital, Transport and Product design were put forward by nominators across the industry. Guest curator Beatrice Galilee and the Design Museum team then selected the shortlist, which went on display at the institution’s Kensington home last week – opened to coincide with London Design Festival.

Projects shortlisted for this year's Design of the Year award include a system for training AI

The exhibition organizes the projects by category, a change from previous years when the curators mixed together the various disciplines. “The curator’s job is to identify key themes and to place all of the ideas,” said Galilee during the exhibition’s opening party on September 10, 2019. “But this year, you’ve got to do the hard work yourselves.”

For the exhibition design, London-based Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio chose to reuse materials from the previous years’ show. Holes were cut through the recycled partitions to create visual links between the various spaces – also encouraging visitors to make connections between the projects in the different categories. “The exhibition design is particularly powerful this year,” said Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic during the opening event.

Viktor&Rolf's Fashion Statements couture collection is shortlisted in the Fashion category

Among the highlights presented in the Architecture category is The Shed, a giant performing arts center in Manhattan’s new Hudson Yards neighborhood, featuring a sleeve-like roof that can be rolled out to create extra space. A community skate park and a Japanese water garden are joined by a program to provide postal codes for London’s homeless and an online service for reusing architectural waste.

The Graphic shortlist has illustrations used by Papi Juice, a collective for queer and trans people of color; a wayfinding system comprising pictograms; and the Led By Donkeys campaign highlighting political hypocrisy. There’s also a compendium of new typeface designs – some of which are used across the exhibition displays and promotional material, as part of the visual identity by Zak Group.

The Fashion category also includes Sandy Powell's costumes for movie The Favourite

Fashion projects range from costumes worn in the Oscar-winning, period comedy-drama The Favourite and a “meme-worthy” couture collection by Viktor & Rolf, to Tommy Hilfiger’s Adaptive Modified apparel for people with disabilities, and a pair of vegan sandals.

Several AI-related projects are included in the Digital category, such as the first genderless voice, a system for training algorithms to learn, and a website that generates fake portraits. These are accompanied by a food-sharing app aimed at reducing waste, and an augmented reality video game starring an avocado, among others.

A 3D-printed motorcycle made the shortlist in the Transport category

An electric flying car, a 3D-printed motorcycle and a self-driving bus are on the Transport shortlist, along with a government policy to protect cyclists and gloves with reflective smiley faces.

The Product category features a variety of plastic alternatives, reinvented pregnancy tests and HIV detectors, as well as tiles glazed with volcanic ash, and furniture with flora encased in its resin surfaces.

Marcin Rusak's Flora furniture is among the projects in the Products category

Later this year, a panel of judges will select winners in each category, before these finalists are pitted against each other to decide which takes the title of Design of the Year. Additionally, the public can vote for their favorite designs online for the first time.

Past winners of the award (now in its 14th year) have included the Counter Investigations exhibition by Forensic Architecture (2018), the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (2017), IKEA’s flat-pack refugee shelter (2016) and the Human Organs-on-Chips project (2015). As always, this year’s Designs of the Year exhibition brings together progressive and hopeful projects that say as much about where the field is headed as summarizing where it sits now.

The Beazley Designs of the Year 2019 exhibition is on view at the Design Museum in London until February 9, 2020.

Text by Dan Howarth.