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issue: December 2006 APPLIANCE Magazine

Industrial Design
Great Ideas: 2006 Gold Winners


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by Leanna Skarnulis, Contributing Editor

The IDSA event in Austin included the Industrial Designers Excellence Awards (IDEA) 2006 competition, sponsored by BusinessWeek and judged by IDSA.

It was here that Asian designers proved that they are becoming major players in the ID world, capturing 26 percent of the 108 awards, compared to just 8 percent in 2005. This was the third year the competition was open to international entries.
The competition reflected several key concepts and trends heard in the conference itself.
• Smart designers will recognize China’s diversity. There’s no such thing as “the Chinese consumer.”
• No manufacturer will go broke overestimating the impact of aging populations. Design accommodations made for physical or mental limitations often have wide appeal in the marketplace. And nostalgia will be big.
• Consumers want style down to small details.
• Designers must see beyond the product to the end user and create a satisfying
experience.
• Green is a growing trend, but not all that fast. Only four awards were made in the competition’s new Ecodesign category, which had few entries. One participant told APPLIANCE magazine, “Designers talk about the environment, but 95 percent of what we create goes to the landfill.”
“This year’s winners shared a few things in common,” says juror Robyn Waters, president of RW Trend LLC (Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.) and author of the upcoming book The Hummer and the Mini: Navigating the Contradictions of the New Trend Landscape. “The best of the best found a way to cut through the clutter and simplify product and message.” Waters, who was instrumental in Target’s makeover, says the winning designers tuned into the hearts and minds of the customer, not just into market trends, to deliver smart products that reframed entire categories. “Many leveraged ethnographic research to get there, which I believe is an incredibly important part of design strategy.”

Following are some of the Gold-winning appliances and designers:

Kodak Easyshare V570 Dual Lens Digital Camera. Eastman Kodak (Rochester, New York, U.S.) and blueMap Design (New York City). The first dual-lens digital still camera, and the thinnest, its functional buttons merge almost seamlessly with high style, yet provide easy operation.
Lenovo Opti Desktop PC. ZIBA Design, Inc. (Portland, Oregon, U.S.), and Lenovo Group Limited (China). Designers immersed themselves in Chinese culture and identified five distinct consumer segments. This PC features shapes and colors suited to the techie gamer.
Panasonic washing and drying machine. Panasonic Design Company (Osaka, Japan). The tilted drum design accommodates children, older users and those in wheel chairs. The machine reduces the stress of loading and unloading laundry, features a simplified control panel and conserves energy and water.
Sirius S50 Design Strategy. ZIBA Design, Inc. Satellite radio technology and digital media features combine with the nostalgic simplicity of radio in a range of devices that include a portable media player, car dock, executive speaker dock, boombox, and home dock.
Wall Mounted Digital Projector. LG Electronics Inc. (South Korea). Just 3.5 inches deep, this HD projector can mount to the wall without professional installation, or sit on a table. An interchangeable front panel comes in various colors.
Other Silver Winners not pictured included:
Hundred Dollar Laptop Computer. Design Continuum (Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.). This rugged laptop was designed for the MIT Media Lab and its initiative of providing one laptop per child in the world’s poorest regions. Shipments of the first five million computers, which now cost $140 apiece, are scheduled for the end of 2006.
Zody. Haworth Inc. (Holland, Michigan, U.S.), and ITO Design (Germany). This task chair took honors in the competition’s new Ecodesign category. It’s made of recyclable aluminum parts, manufactured using energy from wind power, and the company has a take-back program to promote recycling.

GOOD IDEAS

 

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