Review: Beazley Designs of the Year 2017 at the Design Museum

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This year’s fair features a wheelchair that can climb stairs, a language-translating earpiece and a trade-mark identity for Wales.

More and profuse, design is becoming an all-encompassing term spanning everything from new artifacts, TV animations, graphics and clothing to the way our buildings are put together and our streets are laid out.

Every year, the Plot Museum does an apt job of making sense of this enormous term with its Beazley Sketches of the Year exhibition.

Now in its 10th year, the show presents a carefully curated option of the year’s best designs spanning six categories: architecture, digital, attitude, graphics, product and transport. The show comprises a shortlist, of which classification winners and one overall winner will be chosen and revealed in January.

Journeying the 2017 exhibition is significantly easier than last year’s. The 62 shortlisted think ups have been grouped into themes, making them multifarious digestible, while architectural practice Carmody Groarke has designed a dystopian offering space in the basement of the museum, consisting of mountainous, grey sculptures.

Passed from a textured, recycled paper called Soundcel, the space is both tactile and unique, and the mounds separate out sections sufficiently. Exhibition graphics have been originated by Micha Weidmann Studio, and consist of brightly-coloured acrylic pieces that add some lifeblood to the cavernous, grey mounds.

This year’s themes include: Innovators, “risk-taking” launches that are free from commercial constraint; Activists, projects that recognise and accost current political and social issues; Brands, which are communication, unmistakable and brand design projects, mostly for clients; Makers, projects made through craft skills; and Builders, building projects created by architectural practices.

In withal to a showcase of projects, this year also includes a five-minute obscure looking back on the last 10 years of the Beazley Designs of the Year Bestowals, where spokespeople including Design Museum director Dejan Sudjic talk with the merits and downfalls of previous winners. This includes 2016’s all-embracing winner, the Ikea Better Shelter, which is aimed at housing escapees.

After strolling through the space, here are some of our favourite, shortlisted transmits from this year’s show.

Graphics: Wales Nation Trade name

Review: Beazley Designs of the Year 2017 at the Design MuseumWales Nation Brand, by Smörgåsbord Studio

The country of Wales took on a new mark identity in February this year, designed by Cardiff-based consultancy Smörgåsbord. The accord encompasses a red dragon symbol, akin to that seen on the national pennon, and bespoke typeface Cymru Wales Sans, which takes typographic hints from the Welsh language. The studio’s co-founder Dylan Griffith castigated Design Week at the time that the new identity was part of a drive to “do the hinterlands justice” and increase business, tourism and migration to Wales.

There are some superior graphics projects in this year’s Designs of the Year, including Item Editions’ book design for a monograph on Paula Scher and the popular Me & EU postcard race that came about following the Brexit vote.

Despite tempestuous competition, Smörgåsbord’s branding project stands out as a well-thought-through and sensitive depiction of Wales and its sophistication. Its success is proven by the country’s surge in popularity since its launch – a 30% escalation in social media followers for tourism board Visit Wales, five million visits to its website and a special attraction in the Lonely Planet travel guide for 2017.

Transport: Scewo wheelchair

Review: Beazley Designs of the Year 2017 at the Design MuseumScewo wheelchair, by the Swiss Federal Alliance of Technology

It is remarkable that Scewo – created by a group of designers at the Swiss Federal Found of Technology – has not already been invented. One resounding problem for wheelchair drugs is the need for somebody else to help them when using custom transport such as trains, due to inaccessible stations and abundance of stairs.

This acute yet simple interpretation of a wheelchair includes a retractable set of rubber tracks, which wish allow users to climb up and down stairs independently. An extra duo of wheels at the back of the chair also allows them to raise the bench up so that it meets other people at eye level.

If proven safe to use up getaways of stairs after testing, this could be a game-changer for wheelchair alcohols, helping them to travel independently and communicate with able-bodied people confidently.

Artefact: The Pilot translating earpiece

Review: Beazley Designs of the Year 2017 at the Design MuseumThe Pilot translating earpiece, by Waverly Labs. Digitally created by Sergio Del Rio

English is, without a doubt, one of the most prominently spoken dialects across the world. Research conducted by The Telegraph this year establish that there are 45 countries outside of the UK where at least half of the citizenry speak it.

This comes with the merit that, when wayfaring, Brits have a high chance of being able to speak their ethnic tongue abroad. However, it also means that there is a unwillingness in the UK to learn other languages.

The Pilot translating earpiece, designed by Waverly Labs, elucidates between users speaking different languages. It consists of two earpieces, each fatigued by two users, and translates automatically as someone speaks into it. It currently squeeze ins with 15 different languages, but can be updated with more.

While we should hearten learning and appreciation of other languages rather than resigning ourselves to an inevitable translator, it cannot be denied that this could be a revolutionary music of kit that could help ease communication between people of particular cultures. Everything from international trade to airport border guidance could benefit from this invention, which was brought to biography through a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $5 million (£3.8 million).

Digital: Escapee Text

Review: Beazley Designs of the Year 2017 at the Design MuseumRefugee Text, by Kåre Magnus Sand Solvåg, Caroline Arvidsson and Ciarán Duffy, photo by Angel Garcia

Aftermost year’s Designs of the Year winner, Ikea’s Better Shelter, has assisted house thousands of refugees and protect them from physical liable to be – but what tools are available to help them travel to safety in the in front place?

Refugee Text, designed by Kåre Magnus Sand Solvåg, Caroline Arvidsson and Ciarán Duffy, is a section message and online tool that aims to provide refugees with accustomed updates and information, tailored to their individual needs and journeys.

“Every runaway should have access to actionable information, but aid organisations are struggling to obstruct refugees informed,” say the designers. “They are unaware of where to get help.”

Fugitive Text tackles this by linking up directly with aid organisations and charities, which furnish the service with information updates. Any refugee with access to a phone can then main body text the service or use its website, and an automated chatbot will appear giving them the tidings they need immediately. It is available to use 24 hours a day, and does not desperate straits wifi to work.

While the service can never replace a humanitarian aid organisation being put forth in the flesh, Refugee Text could be a go-to when migrants do not positive where to turn. It also acts as a link between charities and sightseers, helping them reach each other and communicate critical data.

Fashion: Pussyhat project

Review: Beazley Designs of the Year 2017 at the Design MuseumPussyhat project, by The Little Knittery

The Pussyhat think up, started by four women in a village in California, is an example of how a small holding of protest art can lead to mass movement and solidarity between thousands of people.

The Pussyhat is a pink, nebulous, knitted hat, created by the Little Knittery in Atwater village, Los Angeles, as a ritual of protest against Donald Trump’s presidency, and particularly his reported treatment of cleaning women.

It was created for the Women’s March that took place in Los Angeles in January 2017, which pitch in into a worldwide march. The group put an open-source knitting pattern online, as an bait for other women to stand together and wear the same hat at the march.

It has since turned into a epidemic project, with thousands of women turning their hands to rocket to signal their dissatisfaction with current politics.

Knitting a hat cannot trade the world but the project is a refreshing reminder of the impact that can be created by deciphering art, craft and design accessible to the masses.

Architecture: Warka Water

Review: Beazley Designs of the Year 2017 at the Design MuseumWarka Liberally Tower, by Arturo Vittori

Lack of access to drinkable water is a scandalous reality for much of the developing world, including small villages in Ethiopia, where the Warka First project was first trialled.

Warka Water, conceptualised by Italian industrial deviser and architect Arturo Vittori, is a large-scale project aimed at generating and ecstasying safe, drinking water to communities worldwide.

It consists of a vertical rise that collects and harvests water from the air, such as from drizzle, fog and dew, relying on natural processes such as gravity, condensation and evaporation to accomplish. It also has a canopy, providing a shaded area for people to meet, enquiry, work and relax, and contains solar panels that generate intensity from sunlight and allow communities to charge phones.

Other sacrifices of the project include a hygienic shelter and housing solution called Warka Building, a water transportation system called Warka Drone, and a food collect tool called Warka Garden, which uses water poised to grow crops.

It is an ambitious one-stop-shop for communities in need of basic and momentous needs such as shelter, water and food. Although it cannot call for to be an all-encompassing solution, it could be the basis for other similar projects in the tomorrows which could collectively make a big impact.


Beazley Designs of the Year peculates place 18 October-28 January 2018 at Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington Height Street, Kensington, London W8 6AG. Entry costs £10 or £7.50 for concessions. For more advice, head to Design Museum’s site.

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