Forensic Architecture takes top Beazley Designs of the Year 2018 prize

The Design Museum’s annual Beazley DOTY awards and exhibition has announced its overall winner – an investigative digital project shedding light on injustice and war crimes – plus its six category winners and the recipient of its public vote award.

Counter Investigations, by Forensic Architecture, takes the top prize. © Miran Shah

The Design Museum has announced eight winners of its annual Beazley Designs of the Year (DOTY) competition, with an exhibition showcasing injustice and international war crimes taking the overall prize.

Each year, the Beazley DOTY award, which is judged by an independent panel, announces its shortlist in September, across six categories of architecture, digital, fashion, graphics, product and transport.

These are displayed in an exhibition at the Design Museum, which runs from September through to the following January, with winner announced before the show ends, in December. The award is now in its 11th year, and the 2018 exhibition saw 87 nominated projects.

The awards programme was also rebranded earlier this year by design studio Leo Burnett, taking on a new logo centred around its acronym “DOTY”, rather than its full name.

An overall winner has been announced, as well as the winner of all six categories, plus an additional “people’s choice” winner, voted for by the public online, and visitors to the exhibition.

Counter Investigations by Forensic Architecture, © Mark Blower.

Research agency Forensic Architecture takes the top prize this year with its Counter Investigations exhibition, which ran at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London from March to May this year.

The exhibition showcased the agency’s investigative work collating and analysing imagery and information relating to international war crimes with the aim of “uncovering miscarriages of justice” and revealing the truth, says the Design Museum. Investigated cases included the allegedly race-incited murder of a man in Kassel, Germany by a member of a far-right group, and a look at the lack of responsibility taken over death of migrants at sea in the Mediterranean.

Forensic Architecture’s investigative work included collecting news reels, smartphone footage, satellite images and other evidence, analysing it, then creating three-dimensional (3D) reconstructions of events, as well as interactive screens, maps and films to display the data.

Melodie Leung, senior associate at Zaha Hadid Architects and a member of the awards judging panel, says: “By breaking conventional boundaries and ways of thinking, Forensic Architecture demonstrates how persistent and creative use of existing data and tools, applied in an open manner, can be effective in challenging existing narratives and power structures in the pursuit for truth and justice.”


The people’s choice award has been given to SurgiBox, a prototype for a pop-up, sterile operating theatre that can fit in a backpack, and can be deployed in remote areas or disaster zones.

Founded and created by designers Debbie Teodorescu, Mike Teodorescu and Stephen Okajima, it is an inflatable, small tent that is placed around a patient, which also contains glove holes for a surgeon to reach their arms in and operate. It has a fan and an air filter that removes nearly 100% of all contaminants, according to the museum.

Zeitz MOCAA, by Thomas Heatherwick Studio, © Iwan Baan

Category winners include Cape Town, South Africa’s new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), designed by Thomas Heatherwick Studio, which took the architecture prize; costumes for The Royal Ballet, designed by womenswear designer Erdem Moralıoğlu, under fashion; and Trash Isles, a campaign to declare a giant, floating pile of rubbish a country, by LadBible and Plastic Oceans Foundation, under graphics.

Prakash Lab’s Paperfuge, a cheap, lightweight and “low-tech” alternative to a syringe that can perform blood tests, took the product prize, while SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy space rocket took the transport prize. Forensic Architecture also came top in the digital category with its Counter Investigations exhibition.

Paperfuge, by Prakash Lab

This year’s judging panel included Paul Priestman, chairman at product and transport design studio PriestmanGoode; Tord Boontje, founder at his self-named Studio Tord Boontje; Ian Callum, director of design at Jaguar; Robert Devereux, chairman at London members’ club The Conduit; Roksanda Ilinčić, founder and creative director at fashion label Roksanda; and Melodie Leung, senior associate at Zaha Hadid Architects.

To read more about the eight winners, head here.

Beazley Designs of the Year, showcasing all 87 shortlisted projects in this year’s awards, runs until 6 January 2019 at the Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street, Kensington, London W8 6AG. Tickets cost £10.90, and £8.20 for concessions. For more information, head here.

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