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Designs of the Year 2014

London’s Design Museum this week unveils the nominations for the Designs of the Year 2014. Among them no less than four Dutch nominees.

By Katie Dominy / 13-02-2014

Among the 76 nominations for the international awards that subdivide into Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Furniture, Graphic, Product and Transport design can be found a fair sprinkling of Dutch designers. 

In the Graphic section appears The Whitney Museum Identity by Experimental Jetset and the Whitney Museum. The Amsterdam-based studio has been nominated almost in spite of itself –as the studio famously shun self-promotional award schemes. For the museum, the studio came up with the idea of the ‘Responsive W’ whose shape responds to the artworks and words around it, allowing the Whitney in-house design team a wide range of options. We asked the Experimental Jetset team about the project:

“We worked on this assignment from November 2011 to May 2013. We gave all we could in this project and we designed hundreds of templates, manuals, models and examples; but all these items make up only half of the story. The other half of the story is the actual application, and we really think the Whitney designers (currently headed by Hilary Greenbaum) excelled themselves. You can see they really put their heart in it, coming up with beautiful results. This maybe our favourite part of the process.” first reported on Phonebloks by Dave Hakkens during Dutch Design Week last October when his project was one of the star exhibits at the Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) show. In fact, Phonebloks was chosen by DAE as one of only a few graduate works to be exhibited at Self Unself at the city’s Van Abbemuseum that opened at DDW. Designed as a phone that is composed of modular elements that are replaceable, the response to Hakkens’ project was enormous. We asked Hakkens how the project was progressing:

“Currently we are working together with Google-owned Motorola to make a modular phone. We have built an online community so people can share their thoughts and ideas on this project and become a part of the development. We are trying to make this phone in a more open transparent way.” As regards the nomination – he adds jovially “I always hoped that around my 40s, after a long design career, I would be nominated for the Design of the Year Award”.

Keeping with phones, Bas van Abel’s Fairphone is the world’s first ‘fairly’ produced smartphone with an emphasis on using raw materials from legitimate sources, a living wage and acceptable working conditions for those making the product and inspiring e-waste solutions. In addition, van Abel opens up the mystery of what we pay for in a smartphone and explains the origin of the cost of each part of the phone. 

Van Abel explains: “I am passionate about changing the relationship between people and products. By opening up the design processes behind everyday things, I believe that people can re-engage and become active owners of their stuff.” The nomination? “We're honoured to be recognised by such a prestigious organization as the London Design Museum. It means a lot to be part of this inspiring group of designers and innovators.”

Over in the Furniture section, Hella Jongerius, together with Rem Koolhaas, Irma Boom, Gabriel Lester and Louise Schouwenberg take the credit for the interior makeover of North Delegates’ Lounge in the United Nations Building in New York. In addition to revamping the colour palette and choosing the furniture, Jongerius created two new pieces for the lounge - the Sphere Table and the UN Lounge Chair; both produced by Vitra. For the windows of the East Façade the designer created the Knots & Beads Curtain, using hand-knotted yarn and 30,000 porcelain beads made from Dutch clay by Royal Tichelaar Makkum.

A judging panel will choose a winner from each category and one overall winner will be announced later in the year. All 76 nominations will be on show at London’s Design Museum from 26 March to 25 August 2014. 

1 - Whitney Museum, graphic identity Chart displaying a selection of possible variations of the 'Responsive W', designed in 2012 by Experimental Jetset.
2 - Whitney Museum, graphic identity 
Early sketch (photomontage/simulation), created by Experimental Jetset in 2012, depicting a fictional Whitney poster installed in the streets of New York.
3 – Phonebloks, change component, photography Dave Hakkens
4 – Phonebloks, open, photography Dave Hakkens
5 – Fairphone
6   - Fairphone, Precious Minerals
7 – UN Lounge Chair & Knots & Beads Curtain, Hella Jongerius, photography Frank Oudeman
8 – UN North Delegates’ Lounge photography Frank Oudeman

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