London Design Museum has revealed the winner of the tenth edition of the prestigious Beazley Designs of the Year awards, which celebrate the best designs in the world by naming one overall winner and six prizes for the categories of architecture, digital, fashion, graphics, product and transport.
The overall winner was the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, designed by the leading light of architecture, Sir David Adjaye, who was recently named as one of the 100 most influential people of the year according to Time magazine. The museum was inaugurated by President Obama in September 2016 and stands as a symbol of the history and culture of Latin America, spread over three levels housing galleries and spaces for theatre productions and collections. With this building, David Adjaye succeeded in creating a unique place whose concept resonates strongly with the deep-rooted African heritage that exists in America. There are many details whose historical inspiration is clear: the filigree covering designed to shade the glazed facades, for example, is a nod to African American craftsmanship.
The winner of the Digital category was Rapid Liquid Printing, an ultra-quick 3D printer that can produce structures in just a few minutes. The machine is designed for large-scale products (it’s capable of printing an entire piece of furniture) and combines top-quality materials with industrial precision. The process was developed by MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab with Christophe Guberan and Steelcase and can produce objects of virtually any dimension, printing them inside a gelatinous container.
The Fashion category saw a truly unique winner: the Nike Pro Hijab, designed by Baron Brandt, Megan Saalfeld and Brogan Terrell. Nika worked with a team of athletes to develop an elasticated, high-performance hijab made from a single layer of fabric in order to facilitate the participation of Muslim women in the world of sport. Inspired by the victory of Sarah Attar for Saudi Arabia at the 2012 Olympics, the hijab was unveiled two days before International Women’s Day.
Fractured Lands, a photo reportage published in the New York Times Magazine on 14 August 2016, was named the winner of the Graphics category. This illustrated story featured 30 moving photographs constituting the product of 18 months of photo journalism, bringing into intense focus the catastrophic fate that has befallen the Arab world in recent years, from the invasion of Iraq 13 years ago to the emergence of ISIS and the current refugee crisis.
The Product category was won not by a product in the normal sense of the word but by an invention: Air-Ink by Graviky Labs. The first ink made from airborne pollution, Air-Ink captures carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere and transforms them into ink. Last but certainly not least, the Transport category was won by Scewo, the brainchild of a group of students from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Scewo is a device that helps people with disabilities to climb the stairs independently and thus reach places that were once inaccessible to them.