Frilly reflective garments, a radio that moves like a mouse and super-slick lighting in the form of laboratory vessels are among the winners of this year’s Blueprint Awards at 100% Design.
Now in its 14th year, the leading architecture title’s awards have become one of the show’s highlights and the standard of entries was as impressive as ever according to Blueprint editor Vicky Richardson, if a little different. “We found that the show was really strong on young talent this year – new graduates and even student work,” she confirmed. “There seems to be more of an entrepreneurial spirit.”
The format of the awards was slightly different this year too. In August Richardson got together with Gareth Williams, senior tutor in Design Products at the Royal College of Art, to award an unlimited number of ‘Blueprint Badges’ or plaques to the Best New Products, New Talent in 100% Futures, and the Best Use of Materials, among entries submitted in advance of the show. But the overall winners, with an additional category of Best Exhibition Design thrown into the mix, were chosen yesterday from all the show’s exhibitors, making for a more inclusive awards.
Richardson and Williams were joined by more industry experts for the final judging: Dr Mark Miodownik, head of materials research at King’s College and Materials Library, Kim Colin of Industrial Facility, Ilse Crawford of Studio Ilse, Ruth Aram of Aram, Philipp Thonet from Thonet, Kwamina Monney, a director at Amanda Levete Architects, and Kara O’Reilly, associate editor at The Sunday Times Style magazine.
Best new product went to Labware by British designer Benjamin Hubert (G100) who incidentally won the best newcomer prize last year. Labware, consisting of table and pendant lights made from mouth-blown glass with Portuguese cork stoppers, was shown in prototype form in 2008 but has since gone into production through Authentics (UK). Hubert is showing eight different ranges of product at 100% Design this year, all of which are in production via leading manufacturers. “This year I wanted to show people how I have developed,’ Hubert explained. “I’m not a designer maker, I have a design studio and that’s really what I wanted to convey.” The Puzzle Shower by Korean company Cebien, part of the KIDP showcase, was highly commended in this category.
Most Promising New Talent at 100% Futures was awarded to Korean RCA graduate Il-Gu Cha (J104) who has only just completed his studies, having benefited from the experience of Sam Hecht, Durrell Bishop and Andre Klauser, no less. His designs include Trace of Time, a clock that you scribble reminders of events on, and a radio which you use just like a computer mouse. “It’s a beautifully simple object with no graphics, dials or buttons,” said Richardson. “It’s just operated by feel or touch.” However, the award came as somewhat of a surprise to the designer. “I didn’t expect it and I think I was very lucky,” he laughed. “My products are very different to most of those at 100% Design. I normally associate the exhibition with furniture but my work is industrial design and so it can be harder to understand and experience my design methodology.” Il-Gu Cha is currently on the look out for manufacturers, although he is already producing the clock himself, and will be showing at the forthcoming 100% Design Shanghai in October.
Best Use of Materials was awarded to Reflective Lace by Lost Values, an ethical design group that mixes craft techniques with technology, led by Elena Corchero. The lace, which can either be sewn into clothing or be worn simply as a high visibility accessory, looks normal by day but is illuminated at night hence its inclusion as part of The Bike Feature at 100% Design. It’s perfect for fashion-conscious cyclists ‘who want to be seen as well as noticed.’
Luminoso, a transparent wood composite by Litwork (C78) was highly commended in this category as were the softblock and softwall systems featuring LEDs by Molo (E20).
Best Exhibition Design went to Disruptive Thinking (Designers Block) by RCA Interactive Design. Put together by students from the RCA’s Interactive Design course, judges were impressed by their experimental ‘sci-fi’ approach, which has resulted in one of the show’s most engaging and inviting stands.