Brit Insurance Design Awards

From an original concept for a cookery book and iPhone app, to an open air library, an organically-shaped chair and the world’s first designer lightbulb, the winners of this years Brit Insurance Design Awards at London’s Design Museum were an inspired collection from the world of architecture, fashion, furniture, graphics, interactive, product and transport.

The seven winners, selected by a jury chaired by former chief executive of the Design Museum Stephan Bayley, are:

  • Architecture: Open Air Library, Magdeburg by Karo Architekten, Germany
  • Fashion: Uniqlo +J Autumn/Winter ’10 by Jil Sander for Uniqlo, Japan
  • Furniture: Branca by Industrial Facility, Sam Hecht, Kim Collin and Ippei Matsumoto, Italy
  • Graphics: Homemade is Best by Forsman & Bodenfors for Ikea, Sweden
  • Interactive: Flipboard by Mike McCue and Evan Doll, US
  • Product: Plumen 001 by Hulger and Samuel Wilkinson, UK
  • Transport: Barclays Cycle Hire by Transport for London, UK

Highlights include Industrial Facility’s Branca chair, manufactured by Italian brothers Mattiazzi. The chair intentionally looks familiar to the eye – mimicking the natural growth patterns of twigs and branches, the backrest and armrests seem to grow seamlessly from just one piece of wood.

Product design award winner Plumen 001 is the world’s first designer lightbulb created by Samuel Wilkinson and Hulger. Using 80% less energy and lasting approximately eight times longer than a typical incandescent bulb, the Plumen 001 is formed of two interwoven glass tubes that curve organically so as to create a new silhouette from each and every angle.

Graphics award winner Swedish company Forsman & Bodenfors’ Homemade is Best cookery book and iPhone app is a playful look at the traditional presentation of cookery. Produced for IKEA, and part of a larger marketing campaign for the giant brand, the graphics firm took inspiration from Japanese minimalism – these carefully composed stills of 30 recipes bring the ingredients centre stage.

The Open Air Library is a community effort that operates a trusting open shelves policy where residents are free to borrow books 24 hours a day. The scheme began five years ago when the residents of Magdeburg in Germany staged an intervention in an abandoned district that formally housed a public library.

The overall Brit Insurance Design of the Year will be announced on 15 March who will be awarded a trophy designed by Ross Lovegrove.

The Brit Insurance Design Awards will be on exhibition at London’s Design Museum until 7 August 2011.

Guest blogger Sean Jackson

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

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Herzog de Meuron’s Swiss adventure

Herzog de Meuron’s Vitra Haus is the perfect addition to Vitra’s celebrated campus in the sleepy town of Weil-am-Rhein. The town, known locally as Stuhl Stadt (Chair City), is most well known for its factories producing some of the world’s most celebrated furniture design from Charles & Ray Eames, Maarten van Severen and Verner Panton, among others.


Vitra Haus, which opened earlier this year to much critical acclaim, was built on the concept of a giant display case for all the beautiful interior design produced here. The structure itself is made of 12 individual buildings, sitting atop one another at jaunty angles, each shaped like an elongated Monopoly house.

Upon entering you are ushered straight to the top (fifth) floor, where you start to see just how well this building works its functions. The display rooms are ight and airy, giving ceiling to floor views of the surrounding countryside, and you are free to sit, bounce and play on the furniture. Vitra have really got the balance of museum and showroom right here.

Working your way down through the various levels and rooms is a joy, with every display window giving new vistas. You can even see out over the factory buildings, where the most famous is Zaha Hadid’s first structure – the fire station. Frank Gehry, Nicholas Grimshaw and SANAA have designed the rest, all warranting a visit in their own right.

Guest blogger Andrea Klettner

Read Andrea Klettner’s blog Love London Council Housing.


Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJ?W | UK | | Bookshop | Published by Banksthomas

All rights and labelled images are covered by ©