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Designs of the Year 2012

London's Design Museum showcases the longlist for its annual awards. Design.nl takes in the Dutch entries to the yearly celebration of global talent.

By Katie Dominy / 16-02-2012

A panel of industry experts were called up to nominate their choice in seven categories: digital, fashion, furniture, graphics, product, transport and architecture.

Design.nl took a tour around the exhibition to see the Dutch influence. Within the furniture section, we came across two pieces from Oak Inside by Christien Meindertsma for Thomas Eyck. Premiered  in Milan this April, the series is is manufactured by traditional woodworkers Roosje Hindeloopen and sees  Christien Meindertsma develop eight new interpretations of traditional  Hindeloopen designs. The designer/producer Thorsten van Elten nominated  Oak Inside noting: “In today's fast-moving world, I find it reassuring that instead of always looking to the future, there are still many designers who are inspired by the past. These designers make long lasting pieces of furniture, such as those found in the Oak Inside collection.”

Thorsten van Elten was one of three experts, alongside designer Ed Annink and consultant Jane Withers, to nominate for the product category Mine Kafon by 2011 Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Massoud Hassani. Mine Kafon is a large wind-blown ball with bamboo spikes created to safely blow up land mines and using GPS, the path of the ball can be mapped to create known secure routes. Thorsten van Elten said of Mine Kafon: “What struck me first was the object's beauty but learning more about the project was mesmerizing. In Europe, we rarely spare a thought for the millions of landmines littering landscapes of warn-torn countries. This product reminds us to care.”

Also a recent graduate of  Design Academy Eindhoven, Yuya Ushida is nominated in the furniture category for his XXXX_Sofa, now manufactured by Ahrend. Paola Antonelli, senior curator in the Architecture and Design department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, nominated the design remarking: “Designer  Yuya Ushida has made use of eight basic elements, injection moulded from recycled plastic, into the construction of this concertina-shaped unit. When viewed alone, the individual parts do not appear to be particularly special, but when assembled in this regular pattern, their beauty becomes clear.”

In the graphics section, De Designpolitie is nominated for the identity of What Design Can Do!, an annual two-day conference in Amsterdam initiated by the studio alongside like-minded designers, that discusses how design can make a real impact on the world. Adelia Borges, the design curator and writer, chose the studio's work, with its bold and direct yellow branding: “The graphics for the international conference What Design Can Do! are as emphatic as the event itself.”

Back in product section, we came across Botanica by the Eindhoven based Formafantasma. Again first showcased back in April in Milan, the series of vessels and bowls from non synthetic-based plastics has been a clear design favourite. Commissioned by the Plart Foundation, Botanica is here nominated by ceramicist Zoë Ryan: “The shapes, details and colours of these bowls and vases evoke natural forms such as pine cones or seed pods. Botanica illustrates Formafantasma's ongoing interest in reinterpreting craft traditions.”

Also nominated by Zoë Ryan in product, we came across Shade by Simon Heijdens, a film surface Simon has developed that is applied to glass and by blocking and allowing daylight to pass through in places, creates a projection of shadows and sunlight. “Simon Heijdens delights in using elements from nature as a starting point to re-evaluate the spaces and places that define daily life. His aim in Shade is to animate what he considers the static nature of most architectural interiors.”

Again in products is the Heracleum hanging light by Bertjan Pot powered through Electrosandwich By Marcel Wanders for Moooi. This LED chandelier is inspired by the Heracleum plant, with its white leaves/lenses forming a natural branch-like structure. Heracleum  is nominated by design events organiser Antoinette Klawer, who says: “So very thin and delicate, what makes this light innovative is its successful fusing of emotional design with great technical expertise and understanding of LED lighting.”

And finally, our favourite, the quirkily titled Your Browser Sent A Request That This Server Could Not Understand by Berlin-based graphic designer Koen Taselaar. Fabienne van Beek, Head of Collections & Research, MOTI, Museum of the Image, Breda, who nominated the large-scale piece drawn in black fine-liner of images of computers, servers, keyboards all connecting to each other, describes it best: “This pen-drawn project is refreshing at a time when most graphic design is being made by computers. This picture is drawn with such precision and intricacy that as a viewer you just want to keep looking at it to discover more and more hidden detail.”


From the overall list, the jury will select one winner from each category and an overall winner. Look out for the winners being announced on April 24 during an Awards Night held at the Design Museum.

Designs of the Year 2012 continues at the Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD until July 15 2012.

Main image: Bottanica
Other images: 1. Mine Kafon 2. Heracleum 3. Oak Inside 4. Shade 5. What design can do! 6. XXXX_ Sofa 7. Your Browser Sent A Request That This Server Could Not Understand

Photography: Luke Hayes

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