The Design Museum is poised to take a new direction to its awards, as its inaugural Brit Insurance Designs of the Year awards and exhibition launch to the public today.
Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic says the show will have a renewed emphasis on the diversity, functionality and aesthetics of design, and will be a ‘survey of the best design around’.
It effectively replaces the Designer of the Year competition, which ran under erstwhile director Alice Rawsthorn until 2006 and provoked much controversy about its definitions of design. More than 100 nominations across seven categories including fashion, architecture, interactive, transport and product, will focus on the breadth of design, rather than individuals, says Sudjic. The top cash prize of £25 000 is to be dropped.
‘The winner will be rewarded with recognition and glory. A cash prize is just not appropri ate,’ says Sudjic. ‘We want to show design is many different areas, from fashion to product to industrial design, that it’s very broad. It’s not just an accolade for an individual, it’s a survey of the best designs in a particular year,’ he says.
Sudjic has enlisted the help of more than 50 design pundits including Nick Knight, Philip Rode and Wayne Hemingway for the nominations. A separate jury will announce the overall winner on 18 March.
On the shortlist this year are Apple’s iPhone, Barber Osgerby’s Tab light for Flos, The Partners’s Grand Tour paintings project for the National Gallery, Thomas Heatherwick’s East Beach Café and fashion designer Giles Deacon’s spring/summer 2008 collection.
Sudjic hints that the exhibition could also be a good starting point for building the museum’s future collection.