I went to the Designs of the Year exhibition recently. I’ve been going for a few years now and am always inspired by what I see – some projects I know of, some I’ve never heard of before. This year I was pleasantly surprised to note that the staff weren’t being paranoid about people taking pictures there, for a change. In a world where a simple Google can throw up anything you want, it was long coming. No idea if it’s official policy or whether I just happened to be there on a quiet afternoon though…
My favourite projects were these:
Phonebloks and Fairphone: Because they are both tackling the issue of massive electronic waste given the rate at which technology makes mobile phone upgrades more and more frequent. It’s something I think about every time I consider changing my phone (which actually isn’t that often, but I don’t think future generations will think that way). Also look at: Project Ara. Super glad at least ONE of the Big Four (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) is tackling this problem.
Makoko Floating School: Because it brings education to the people instead of waiting for people to go to education (Mohammed, mountain, etc.). If School in the Cloud doesn’t exist in parts of the world where education is just difficult to obtain for various reasons (technology infrastructure primarily but also transport, weather, teacher absenteeism and so on) then this is a good solution.
Hello Lamp Post: This is more than a year old so it’s been spoken about a bit, but seriously, cities that communicate? How cool is that. I still harbour the hope that all cities will develop a language and tone of their own. Nice one Tom and co.
Generations: This line says it all – ‘Unlike a conventional video game, it is impossible to finish a game of Générations in your lifetime.’ It’s a challenge and all at once imbues a sense of higher purpose to your life. And it’s a game. I love the idea (no I haven’t started playing – yet).
Citymapper: OK, I’m not the first person to love Citymapper and I won’t be the last but it distinctly reminded me of last year’s winner, gov.uk, because it does one thing and that one thing very well. When I was at the exhibition last year I overheard someone say ‘I still don’t know why a website won Designs of the Year’. Can I just say that if Citymapper wins this year it will be for the same reason: that it makes something previously complicated into something so simple and beautiful.
You should go.