These awards show design can really make a difference

You couldn’t get a better indicator of the directions that design is taking than the two main contenders in the 2009 Design Week Awards.

The creator of the runner-up, the MacBook Air, has become a regular at awards events. What Apple products bring is not just outstanding design exquisitely crafted by Jonathan Ive and his team. They also stand for connectivity.

Connectivity may be a current buzzword, but it is opening up new avenues for intelligent design.

It is not merely about styling the right casing – Ive’s team is responsible for far more than that with Apple’s ground-breaking products. It is about communicating at all levels with consumers and enabling them to choose the platform that suits them. It is also about creating content – a relatively new, but important exploit for creative groups.

The winner, though – the Peezy urine sampler from the appropriately named Funnelly Enough – brings design right down to earth, where it can really make a difference to people’s lives.

The Peezy is not a glamorous product, but it is well designed and has been created to meet a market crying out for design intervention. This is the stuff we need more of.

At the illustrious Design Indaba in Cape Town last week, the legendary Canadian design thinker Bruce Mau said, ‘Crisis is a terrible thing to waste.’ His stance echoes Sir John Sorrell’s opinion that design thrives in adversity.

So whether you see the crisis as economic or relating to sustainability, let’s see more designs that give a new dimension to life. You could do worse than check out the shortlist for the Design Museum’s Brit Insurance Designs of the Year. You will, for example, find Design Indaba’s own 10×10 House for the South African townships among the inspiring projects there.

Congratulations to all the Design Week Awards winners and thanks to all who took part. It’s no mean feat to win and the work, particularly Peezy, has set a great standard for future years.

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