Here at It’s Nice That we’re not massive ones for economic analysis (why would we be?) but even we realise it’s all been ruddy gloomy these past 12 months, for reasons we can’t begin to explain. In this climate the role of product and furniture designers becomes even more crucial, and the challenge of combining style, functionality and affordability will probably be the major theme of 2012. As for 2011 though, this is what really caught our eye…
One of the more frustrating features of compiling this category was coming up against whether certain contenders could really be thought of as the fruits of 2011. That did for both Claire Ann O’Brien’s Knit Stools and the Plumen lightbulb while it would be remiss of us not to mention two excellent shows at the Design Museum, celebrating two figures who made indelible marks on UK design – Kenneth Grange and Terence Conran.
Foldboat Max Frommeld and Arno Mathies
Forget being a stand-out in this category, forget being a stand-out at the London Design Fetsival, Foldboat is one of the best things we have seen this year. Full stop, no eras-ies. Unassuming RCA graduates Arno Mathies and Max Frommeld created a flat-pack boat which is cheap, light and amazing fun – plus it could have huge consequences for disaster relief charities. Stunning design from a young duo with very big futures ahead of them.
Airdrop Edward Linacre
Sir James Dyson probably doesn’t need our seal of approval , what with the knighthood, the money, and the place as Britain’s foremost engineer, but we’re still going to put on record just how marvellous the Dyson heater is. And yet rather than hail the master, we are going to plump for his latest find, Australian designer Edward Linacre. Winner of the Dyson Award, his Airdrop extracts water molecules from the air, based the survival mechanism of the Namib beetle. Inspired inspiring, and potentially world-changing.
Collective Works Mischer Traxler
Any designer has to consider how to stand out from the crowd, to get enough attention amid the insistent clamour of the modern world. That challenge is even more pronounced at the art and design world’s big jambourees such as Art Basel Miami Beach, but Vienna based duo Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler may have come up with the perfect solution. The machines they exhibited as part of Collective Works only function if they sense that somebdoy is close and paying attention to them. The frequency and duration of that attention then impacts on the finished pieces in a beautifully conceptualised comment on the interaction between man and machine and the essential human element of the creative process.