Household objects like electric screwdrivers or driers aren't sold just because they work, but also because they look good. The annual Red Dot Awards honor the best in everyday design. Here are some of the winners.
The Red Dot Museum houses unusual designs in Germany and in Singapore
"A gentle appearance," "seamless" - that's how the Red Dot Awards' jury described the "Juwel Novaplus Evolution," a rack for drying clothes.
The rack is said to unfold with the slightest touch while being able to withstand even heavy winds. Opening and spreading the cords of the rack will "move" the user, according to the jury. Its lime green color is intended to attract young buyers, said designer Michael Tinius of the Busse Design Firm.
This digital bathroom interface can store more than just the user's favorite water temperature
At first glance, though, many of the winning products show little of their design value. In the case of the drying rack, Tinius needed just two weeks to finish its design. For him, the design hinged on being unadorned.
"Above all else, an object like this should fulfill its function through its form," said Tinius. "That's an interesting challenge for me as a designer."
The Red Dot Award has existed since 1955 and is conferred by the Center for Design in Essen, Germany. Now designers from throughout the world travel to the Ruhr Valley when, like this week, the prizes are awarded.
Like the prize, the concept of everyday design itself has become increasingly important in recent years. That's apparent through the numerous entries received for the award, said jury member Jan Soetebeer.
"Previously, people had some problems getting things sent in to be judged," Soetebeer said. "But the quality of design is getting better globally, and we now get a lot of entries from abroad."
There were more than 4,000 products entered this year, of which 830 received awards.
A total of 45 products were honored as the "Best of the Best," and 19 of the 45 were designed in Germany.
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A "respectful" jackhammer
One winner was a digital bathroom showing a clear, polished and sleek surface - qualities it shares with many other winners this year. The surface features unobtrusive buttons that allow the user to program and save settings like the water's temperature and how fast it flows. Settings even allow the user to program pauses in the water flow in the shower, so as to allow time to lather up, for instance.
Some winning objects go beyond the home and into the streets, like the model TE 3000-AVR jackhammer. It looks like an ordinary jackhammer, but the designer created it to sound "respectful" rather than loud and violent. By relying on a different kind of air pressure, the tool is better than other jackhammers at dampening vibrations, and its ergonomic design should also make it easier to use.
The "Juwel Novaplus Evolution" - a complicated name for a slick product
While the TE 3000-AVR makes life easier, the winning product "Spirittree urn and plant vase" deals with the other end of the spectrum. The Spirittree is a biodegradable urn in which a seed is placed to create a living grave.
About more than beauty
The awards may be confusing to some laymen, for whom it could be hard to see why a drying rack or a jackhammer could be anything worthy of awards. That may relate to a language problem, said Jan Soetebeer, who pointed out that the word "design" is used differently in German and in English.
"In English, 'design' relates more to the form in general, while we think of design as relating more to function," Soetebeer said. "Design needs to be practical, and it should be fun."
Author: Donata Ritter/gsw
Editor: Sean Sinico