On a rainy Sunday a couple of weeks ago I decided it was the time to see the Design Museum. Plus, I found that there was the Design of the Year exhibition: I couldn’t loose such a great opportunity to see the tendencies of the contemporary design, and whether they are applying or not design thinking.
Well, to be sincere, from an overall view, I would say not all of them. I selected three above all to write about.
Starting with the less impressive, the winner of the furniture price was the Medici Chair by Konstantin Grcic for the Italian brand Mattiazzi. I am not expert, of course, but I am really interested in up-cycling and in general in new designs made from recycled materials or just old designs revisited and referred in order to satisfy new needs.
Personally I don’t see the Medici Chair as a particularly innovative product. If I have to choose other designs of Grcic, I definitely would go for the B Bench for BD Barcelona Design, which is a much more clever and innovative product: it is not just a bench, but a bench system. It revisits the past by using the 1929 crossing legs, but is also developing a modular system. Konstantin himself says that “design is not about inventing new things all the time – design is an evolution of things. We have created a kit of parts which can be changed into very different typologies” [ETHERINGTON, 2013 ]. Regarding the brand Mattiazzi, I personally would prefer the Fionda chair by Jasper Morrison, which is clearly inspired by the classic camping chair, normally aluminium or iron-legged: Morrison simply replaced them with wood legs, and created a comfortable, unusual, space-saving indoors chair.
The best product was the Kit Yamoyo designed by ColaLife and PI Global, and it is a very clever idea. They designed an aid kit to help prevent and cure diarrhoea , and the great particularity of the product is that it can be perfectly nestled between Coca-Cola bottles. As the famous drink is sold everywhere, even in developing countries, ColaLife designed the Kit Yamoyo to bring medicine to remote locations through Coca Cola’s distribution. I do believe it is a great idea. It is design thinking because it tries to solve a problem, but in a way which is not invasive nor forced. It uses something which is already in the daily life of the people, but to bringing them a solution of one of their biggest problems, without almost telling them. Amazing.
The overall winner was the gov.uk website. Well, I am not a web designer. I am not (yet) an official UK citizen neither. But I am an user, and quite an expert one: I surf a lot on the Internet, and I have some expectations from the websites. They should be clear, easy, clean, functional and beautiful, because looks also count. I don’t like the gov.uk website. The homepage is full of text and links, where I would have put buttons or a menu. I like the idea of putting all the Ministerial departments in one place, but the box containing them is totally out of context for the colours and the style. In general the page is too long to scroll down, and too full of links. I read many articles about this website. I perfectly understand that it can be seen innovative for the fact that they digitized every information the citizens might need. But frankly I do believe that they should have thought not only about which services to provide, but also how to present them, because presentation is a form of communication, and we live in a extremely communicating world. To sum up, personally I can’t see the extreme value for the Design in gov.uk. Please keep in mind that this is my humble opinion, and that I am not judging the contents but just the appearance and the functionality. Feel free to leave some comments whether you agree or not.
If you would like to know more about the prices, the winners and the nominations, I suggest you to have a look at the Design Museum website.