Having the most nominations, this category is hugely diverse, ranging from everyday products to the rare and specialised. The category winner was the foldable plug by Min-Kyu Choi, who made the traditional British plug look cumbersome and obsolete, and instead gave it a new, sleek look – only 10mm wide – which is useful for travellers (Choi said the idea came about because he was annoyed with having to carry around a plug that was thicker than his Mac Book Air).
Many of these designs solve problems we face everyday like Sugru, a silicone-based material that can be used for multiple repairs, or as creator Jane ni Dhulchaointigh put it, to ‘hack things better’. Simple in its concept, Sugru can save you a lot money by helping you repair objects you thought were ready to be thrown away.
Per Finne Industrial Design also gave a little twist to the ordinary by making a Ski Helmet for Girls that is lighter, stylish and pony-tail friendly (pretty sure a cycling version would also be just as popular), and in the same spirit, the Front Yard Company made a Plant Lock which gives cyclists a safe place to lock their bikes while adding a little greenery to cities – a lovely combination.
The Beehaus by Omlet also stood out for its solution to the decreasing bee population in the UK as it facilitates beekeeping for people living in cities.
Another highlight of this category was the Design and Democracy: Blanke Ark by Blueroom, Innovativoli and KADABRA, which is a new voting system comprising of a voting booth, ballot box, signage, ballot and graphic profile, all created to make the voting process more accessible. Already used in the Norwegian governmental elections in 2009, it will be implemented for the country’s regional elections in 2011.
The Kyoto Box by Job Bohmer was a memorable entry for its simple designs with multiple benefits, as it is small solar cooker which provides free energy for cooking, baking, cleaning water and drying foods. It also lowers the costs of energy, reduces household CO2 emissions, and reduces deforestation. One of the beauties of this product is that its use and benefits are as big and influential in developing as well as developed countries.
PACT Underwear by Yves Béhar showed that being environmentally friendly and socially responsible can also be sexy. These days apparently, change starts with your underwear. Béhar partnered with various charity organisations and gave each one its own underwear collection as well as 10% of the profits. The underwear is produced locally and adheres to high environmental and social standards.
Other nominees included the Worldmade Sport Wheelchair designed by David Constantine, the Design Bugs Out Commode by PearsonLloyd, the blown-fabric lanterns by Nendo, Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Kvadrat, the Hope Chandelier by Francisco Gomez Paz and Paolo Rizzatto for Luceplan, Real Time by Maarten Bass, the Samsung N310 Mini Notebook by Naoto Fukasawa, The Idea of a Tree by Katharina Mischer & Thomas Traxler, CASE Abyss by Abyssus Marine Services for SeaBed Geophysical, Soma by Ayala Serfaty, L’Eau d’Issey ETTORE SOTTSASS Edition by Issey Miyake and finally, The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard is a wonderful little story about how more products aren’t necessarily the solution and in fact can lead us to a dysfunctional lifestyle.