A Confusing Design Decade

Design award categories are often unfortunate anachronisms. Most awards are given in categories based on disciplines — “Furniture Design”, “Consumer Products” – and then the organizers resort to lengthy definitions to try and force today’s exciting, interdisciplinary work into these outdated boxes. And as we saw with the I.D Annual Design Review, the results are not very convincing.

The recently announced IDSA Design of the Decade awards must be commended for giving up the disciplinary model for categories. But while one might think that having nice, open categories like “Design’s Contribution to Market Share Growth” is preferable, it turns out to be even more confusing. I appreciate the distinction between “Solution to a Developed World Social Problem” and “Solution to a Developing World Social Problem,” recognizing that social issues are embedded in economic and political disparities. But trying to decipher why “Solution to a Consumer Problem” is a separate category from “Most Appealing Consumer Solution” is baffling, to say the least. There are five different categories for design contribution to business, indistinguishable except for the finest nuance. And then there is the greatest enigma of all, “Most Responsible Design Solution,” with no inkling of what this responsibility constitutes. They might as well have called the category “Most Awesome Best Thing.”

Nonetheless, the Gold winners in each category are some really worthy design objects, and deserve a round-up:

Solution to a Consumer Problem

“The first decade of the 21st century has been frequently accused of lacking coherence. Ironically, coherence emerged as one of the prevailing themes of some of the decade’s most important design work. Target’s Clear Rx bottles—hailed by IDSA’s esteemed jury as the standout Design of the Decade—exist very explicitly to deliver a clearer, more intelligible and more logical healthcare experience.”

Metropolis featured ClearRx in our November 2005 issue.

DOD_FlipCamcorder200_GoldFlip Family of Camcorders
Most Appealing Consumer Solution

“Flip Video has enabled consumers to embrace video as a critical tool for living a happy and engaged life.”




DOD_SetupChair_GoldSetu Chair
Best Sustainable Design Solution

“Setu weighs less than 19 pounds yet is capable of supporting up to 300 pounds. Because of the chair’s weight reduction coupled with its form, two Setu chairs can be delivered in one box, cutting transportation, energy and related costs by 50 percent.”

Read more about Setu in our June 2009 issue.



DOD_Inogenone_GoldInogen One G2
Solution to a Developed World Social Problem

“The Inogen One delivers freedom and mobility to oxygen patients. […]In summary, this device goes with patients wherever they go, supporting their lifestyle choices instead of hampering them.”




 DOD_Tata_Swach_GoldTata Swach Nanotech Water Purifier      
Solution to a Developing World Social Problem

“The Tata Swach (Hindi for “clean”) is setting out to provide clean drinking water to the millions of people worldwide who don’t have it. […]Tata Swach costs about $0.02 per day for a family of five.”



DOD_Jawbone_GoldJawbone Bluetooth headsets and Company Strategy
Most Successful Integration of New Technology

“Jawbone behaves like a fashion brand as well as a consumer brand, more than a consumer electronics brand. Jawbone’s sleek, sexy design has become as much of a selling point as its functionality and technology.”



 DOD_Venus_GoldVenus Razor
Most Profitable Solution to a Business problem

“The Venus Razor, the first wet-shaving product designed for women, was a breakthrough concept, creating a thriving female-specific business.”




DOD_Applestore_GoldApple Retail Stores
Biggest Contribution to Brand Growth

“By providing a high-profile, accessible retail channel, the company is better able to attract, engage and retain its customers.  The stores generate 20 percent of Apple’s revenue.”





 DOD_AmazonKindle_GoldAmazon Kindle
Design Thinking’s Contribution to Business

“The Kindle wireless portable reading device is the first physical manifestation of the Amazon.com brand. It is a continuous narrative that originates from the Amazon.com bookstore and evolves into a seamless reading experience.”




DOD_Servo_GoldSERVO-i intensive care ventilator
Design’s Contribution to Market Share Growth

“When Servo-i was introduced, the company was a market follower. Today it is a market leader in mechanical ventilation.”




DOD_Virginupperclasssuite_GoldVirgin Atlantic Airways Upper Class Suite
Design’s Contribution to Business Efficiency

“During the roll out, the company’s incremental market share gain was up to 2.5 percent, which equates to revenue increases of up to 10 percent. The Upper Class Suite also created a direct source of income from licensing the design components to other airlines.”



 DOD_Omnipod_GoldOmniPod Insulin Management System
Most Responsible Design Solution

“The absence of any tubes or wiring makes the OmniPod system very discrete. Users often find themselves forgetting that they are even wearing it and are free to engage in any activity they wish, including swimming, thanks to a watertight design.”




Categories: Healthcare Architecture, Uncategorized