Design Awards

28 Dec 2004|Christoper Ireland

The recent issue of Wallpaper introduces their first annual design awards. When I first saw the cover, I thought “oh god, not another design bake-off…”. But I was very pleasantly surprised to find that they recognized several dimensions of design that others, most notably BusinessWeek, do not.

1. Design is global. Rather than concentrating on US designers and making most readers think that IDEO is the only good design firm in the universe, Wallpaper showcases designers and design firms from around the world, including young designers Seyhan Ozdemir and Sefer Caglar (Autoban 212, Istanbul), Marcel Sigel (Zuii, Melbourne) and Tobias Wong of New York.

2. Design can be non-material. Daslu, in Sao Paolo, Brazil, receives the award for “Best Service.” Not content to be another high end retailer, Daslu offers such innovative twists as forbidding men in the women’s department (thereby making changing rooms unnecessary).

3. Design goes beyond technology. One of my favorite winners is the “Best snack.” It’s a gorgeous little cake called a Yauatcha , described as an “edible Sino-European work of art.”

4. Design can include nature. Rather than focusing on the architecture of the building, Wallpaper gives the London headquarters of Swiss Re an award for “Best New View.”

5. Design can be a product of massive intent. Miami gets Wallpaper’s award for “Best City”, certainly not because it was conceived and executed by a design firm or even a collaboration between multiple firms. Rather, the magazine describes this city as the product of 108 years of organic growth, a billion-dollar clean-up and a hip, diverse and active population, all converging to create the new cultural mecca of the Americas.

6. Fashion design counts. I was thrilled to see a fashion designer (Jil Sander) among the judges, and even more thrilled to see awards for “Best New Beauty Product” (Korner Skincare), “Best Use of Color”, “Best Changing Room” (Yves Saint Laurent on Rodeo Drive) and “Best Fragrance” (2 Man by Comme des Garcons).

7. Design can make a difference. Often award-winning designs don’t accomplish enough in the functional department, but Wallpaper recognizes Valextra wallets as the “Best Travel Accessory” and Tanner Krolle’s travel kit as “Best Travel Kit” largely for their improved functionality. In a bold stretch (over the top for most of us, but I like their flamboyance), it grants Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class seating as “Most Life-enhancing Item.”

In addition to the enlightened perspective on design, the magazine is beautiful. Even the ads look like they were thoughtfully created and placed with care to compliment the content. It includes a useful map of downtown Miami and lots of phone numbers, addresses and websites if you’re inspired to own anything you see. Overall, well worth the $8.75 cover price and about an hour of your time.

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