The fifth annual Designs of the Year exhibition opens today with nearly 90 nominees crammed into the top floor of London’s Design Museum. There’s the usual array of headline-stealing objects and more unusual fare to be found throughout the seven categories, with the winners set to be announced in April. You can find our in-depth coverage of the long lists featuring some of our favourites here but here’s a breakdown of some of the stats involved in the quest for design glory.
Amid the many excellent designs actually on show at the Design Museum – the Carbon Black wheelchair which is created so as “not to visually dominate the user”, the scannable Tesco supermarket in a Seoul subway station, the brilliant shade lighting effect – there’s also a host of fascinating facts and figures on display.
We thought we’d take a look and see if there’s anything designers can learn from those who have gone before.
Firstly if you’re reading this in London, you’re already at an advantage as this is far and away the place with the most nominations since 2008. Its 170 nods dwarfs the next city, Paris, at 26, edging ahead of New York’s 21. The next three are San Francisco at 12, Rotterdam has 10 and Berlin with eight.
In the last five years, exactly one third of the nominations for Designs of the Year have been self-initiated, which is a sobering/inspiring thought depending on which way you choose to look at it. Among this year’s crop, the transport and digital categories topped the self-starters list with a whopping 86 per cent and 82 per cent respectively.
It’s a good year for wood, with one quarter of the architecture nominees and 40 per cent of the furniture hopefuls using it as their primary material. Also worth mentioning that you have a better chance in those same categories if you design a public building (like two-thirds of the architecture selections) or a chair (nearly half of the furniture choices).
Fashion-wise it is noteworthy that this year a quarter of the long-list were projects about communication or exhibiting rather than clothes themselves but elsewhere old habits die hard – the graphics section has only one online entry.
If you’re a budding product designer it doesn’t seem to pay to look too close to home for inspiration – only six per cent of the long-list were for use in a residential setting – but maybe take a walk as more than a quarter took their inspiration from nature. And don’t try and be too clever with your power sources, more than half need a mains socket to work, while electricity is also the order of the day in transport.
The show runs until July and the winners will be revealed in April.
See our category-by-category guides here:
- Thomas Prior captures a Mexican festival involving exploding sledgehammers
- The misty-eyed and delicate pencil marks of Lee Kyutae
- Build’s brand identity for product design brand Plæy mirrors its playful and modular designs
- David Bailey's photographs of NW1, republished and exhibited for the first time
- Studio Mut creates a catalogue for Italian art prize that celebrates up-and-coming artists
- A forward-minded retrospective: behind the design of the massive Cedric Price monograph
- Wes Anderson directs H&M Christmas advert starring Adrien Brody
- The New Look: Looking back at Roundel’s 1980s identity design for British Rail’s Railfreight
- Discussing cinema with Laura Marling on her directorial debut, Soothing
- London’s first crisp restaurant, Hipchips, launches with branding by Ragged Edge
- Richard Sandler’s street photography conveys the intricacies of city life
- A "stress opus" from cartoonist Nadine Redlich