The Design Museum has been a centre for showcasing great design ever since it was founded over 30 years ago, and despite the pandemic, the museum is still working hard to curate and display their exhibitions. Every year The Design Museum showcases the best and most exciting fashion, architecture, products and many many more design projects from the past 12 months and this year was no exception. With the ongoing pandemic, good design has never been more important as it helps us look forward into a better, more positive future. The sponsors of the event, the Beazley insurance group, made an effort to ensure the event could still be held. This year the Beazley Design award exhibition was held virtually, the exhibit has been created in the museum and using 360 cameras it has been captured and recreated online, allowing you to walk around and explore the exhibit, clicking on each project and learning a little about each one. Being online also makes it a lot easier to google and find out more about your favourites.
A couple of our team members were lucky enough to get some last minute tickets to explore the acclaimed exhibition. Joe, Alex and Ollie have hand picked a couple of their favourite designs that excited, intrigued and even inspired them from the exhibition so that we can show you the best bits!
Perhaps my favourite design of the event was the Teeter-Totter Wall, and with the interactive piece winning overall best design, I clearly wasn't in bad company. The bright pink seesaws were installed at the US-Mexico border in 2019, allowing children and families on both sides to come together and play for around 40 minutes before they were removed by border patrols. The creators hoped the piece would help communities build bridges, highlighting the importance of this, over building walls.
I also believe this piece shows relevance in today's socially distanced society, emphasizing the importance of connection and interaction in a world filled with physical barriers.
Smart Halo 2
During lockdown the UK saw a 200% increase in the numbers of cyclists, with many choosing to get on their bikes, either to get to work in the morning, or to relax at the weekend. Smart-Tech in cycling for the average consumer has perhaps been lacking until now, but the Smart Halo 2 promises to be the ultimate tech heavy cycling tool for all the new cyclists out on the road.
The product features a turnstyle navigation system, an anti-theft alarm capable of over 100db, a powerful night light, and a built in assistant. The product also features activity tracking, meaning you can upload your commute to Strava as soon as you get to the office.
The Uncensored Library
Minecraft is something that I'm sure doesn't need much of an introduction, but as a video game featuring endless creative freedom, it's probably something most designers have spent more time on than they're proud to admit.
However this project goes a little further than your average Minecraft creation, a digital home for press freedom, the teams from Reporters without Borders (RSF) & BlockWorks have created a platform to overcome censorship. In the form of a neoclassical style library, the minecraft creation features 6 halls, hosting hundreds of books, articles, blogs & websites that are banners or censored by oppressive governments all over the world.
I really enjoyed the Lego Braille bricks that were on show. Only about 10% of blind people can read and understand braille and it has also been shown that, if visually impiaired, reading braille can greatly increase your employability. Lego designed this learning tool as there is a diminishing percentage of children learning to read braille. I love the idea of lego utilising their bricks for this purpose, it helps blind and visually impaired children learn braille from a young age, whilst still making the experience feel like play. Each letter of the braille alphabet has been spelled out using the studs on a standard lego brick creating an interactive and tactile alphabet to help children learn braille and eventually going on to use the bricks to learn other more complex topics such as spelling and grammar.
I also greatly enjoyed the architecture displayed at the show, the Goldsmith street project was shortlisted in the 2019 RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) awards and went on to win the Stirling prize. The Stirling prize is RIBAs most prestigious award, noting the building's significance for the evolution of architecture in the UK. The project is a small residential development in the heart of Norwich, designed to be highly energy efficient and to create a new standard for heat efficiency in social housing. The houses themselves are beautifully thought out, with roofs sloped to allow the winter sun to directly heat the house during the colder months, I definitely recommend checking this one out if you’re keen on architecture.
One design that really stood out to me was Soluboard - the first fully recyclable and biodegradable PCB substrate. 18 billion square metres of PCB’s and recycling them can be difficult. The organic structure of Soluboard breaks down in hot water, allowing the components to separate and be repurposed more efficiently. It will be interesting to see if this innovative solution to a large source of e-waste will replace traditional PCB materials.
Another project that was interesting to see highlighted was a 3D rendering of the novel coronavirus. This image was commissioned by the US CDC in January 2020 to raise awareness of a possible pandemic. The image, showing the virus as viewed through a microscope, has been used across the world to visualise the virus, and won the graphics prize for the design of the year.