Brit Insurance Design Awards

London 5 March 2010:

The seven category winners of the Brit Insurance Design Awards 2010 are announced today. Collectively they celebrate everyday design, reflecting international trends, current themes of sustainability and social enablement. Winners originate from Chile, China, Netherlands, UK and USA.

The winners include Monterrey Housing, a new model for social housing in Mexico, a project which was first trialed in Chile.  The E430 Electric Aircraft, the first of its kind which produces zero emissions; and Grassworks a beautiful flat pack furniture kit made of sustainable bamboo which requires no drills or glue.

British designer, Alexander McQueen, was selected as winner of the Fashion category and jury member Paula Reed, Style Director of Grazia commented ‘The video presentation of McQueen’s last show is one of the most compelling pieces in the exhibition. […]The impressiveness simply compounds the enormity of his loss.’

The seven Brit Insurance category winners are:

Brit Insurance Architecture Award 2010: Monterrey Housing, Mexico. By Elemental. Chile.

Brit Insurance Fashion Award 2010: Alexander McQueen Spring / Summer ’10 and Spring / Summer Catwalk presentation Plato’s Atlantis. UK

Brit Insurance Furniture Award 2010: Grassworks. By Jair Straschnow. Netherlands.

Brit Insurance Graphic Award 2010: The Newspaper Club. By Ben Terrett, Russell Davies and Tom Taylor. UK

Brit Insurance Interactive Award 2010: The EyeWriter. By members of Free Art and Technology, openFrameworks, Graffiti Research La, The Ebeling Group and Tony Quan. USA

Brit Insurance Product Award 2010: Folding Plug. By Min-Kyu Choi.UK

Brit Insurance Transport Award 2010: E430 Electric Aircraft. By Yuneec International. China.

Antony Gormley Chair of the Jury comments “The seven winners provide a snapshot of some of the most outstanding designs from the past 12 months and reflect the important role design plays in improving people’s lives.”

The seven winning designs will now compete for the overall Brit Insurance Design of the Year 2010, to be announced at the Awards Ceremony at the Design Museum on 16 March. The winning entries, along with all the shortlisted designs, are on show at the Design Museum until 6 June.

Source: London Design Museum Press Release


Grassworks by Jair Straschnow

We said:

We particularly like the Eames-esque easy chair – not least because it flips over to form two different shaped chairs – and the extending trestle table. Both have a lovely flowing, natural form… which we like.
And we think the judges will also approve of both the mix of materials and traditional techniques in a wonderfully fresh collection.

Grassworks by Jair Straschnow

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: very good

grassworks by jair straschnow bookshelves

Grassworks by Jair Straschnow: Bookshelves

grassworks by jair straschnow trestle table

Grassworks by Jair Straschnow: Trestle Table

grassworks by jair straschnow easy chair

Grassworks by Jair Straschnow: Easy Chair

2010 Brit Insurance Design Jair Straschnow Grassworks

2010 Brit Insurance Design Jair Straschnow Grassworks


The shortlist is:

360° Work Chair by Konstantin Grcic

Carbon Fibre Chair Shigeru Ban

Extrusion Thomas Heatherwick Studios

Grassworks by Jair Straschnow

Breathe Furniture by Helen Kontouris

Houdini Armrest Chair by Stefan Diez

Palindrome by Peter Marigold

Pallet project by Nina Tolstrup

PARCS by PearsonLloyd for Bene

Polytopia by Lucas Chirnside

Setu by Studio 7.5 for Herman Miller

Repair Project by Linda Brothwell

A bit cheeky… but hey aint that us.

Shortly after we published the shortlist, we quickly covered Linda Brothwell‘s Repair Project … and for reasons of time – the winner will be announced in about three hours – we re-hash it here.

Linda Brothwell’s Repair Project  was part of the 2009 Experimenta Festival in Lisbon. Invited by the British Council to participate in their “Timeless” contribution, Linda, along with her fellow participants was asked to respond to the dual implications of the subject – urgency and the passing of time.

Linda’s response was to use traditional techniques – for all wood inlaying based on traditional Portuguese embroidery patterns – to repair damaged park and street benches in the Portuguese capital.

Linda herself initially  studied metalwork and jewellery at Sheffield Hallam University, before going on to study goldsmithing, silversmithing, metalwork and jewellery at the Royal College of Art in London.

What we like about the repair project is the fact that, rather like Nina Tolstrup’s Pallett Project, it is a simple – and in a way obvious – project that can be rolled out as required anywhere in the globe. It performs a necessary function, with a delightful style and grace…and benefits the community.

But it ain’t furniture design, and doesn’t teach us anything new about creating repairable furniture.

And as such, much as we like and approve of the project, we can’t really see how it can win.

Repair Project by Linda Brothwell

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: low

linda brothwell repair lisbon

Linda Brothwell Repair Project

Linda Brothwell Repair Project Lisbon

Linda Brothwell Repair Project Lisbon

The  first thing you notice about Setu by Studio 7.5 for Herman Miller is the resemblance to another product with which Herman Miller established their name as one of the world’s premium designer furniture producers: The Aluminium Chair by Charles and Ray Eames.

The important difference is that whereas with the aluminium chair the movement comes from a hinge between seat and base, with the Setu the movement comes from an innovative new approach to reclining mechanisms.

And whereas with a conventional office chair the reclining function comes from a hinge between base and seat, with the Setu the movement comes from an innovative new approach to reclining mechansisms.

In essence the reclining mechanism of Setu can be considered a spine; as the user leans back the spine moves with you and so supports your weight. The genius with Setu, however, is that the spine is built into the curvature between seat and backrest, i.e uses the natural curve of the Eames Aluminium Chair  to create movement and improve comfort.

Perhaps a video can explain that much better…

setu hermann miller studio 7.5 evolution

Setu by Studio 7.5, the evolution (click to play)

In the Setu Evolution video, Burkhard Schmitz says “We tried to start with a clean slate and then find the form through the constraints”
Which means that the Aluminium Chair form is almost perfect.

By giving it flexibility Studio 7.5 have improved that form.

And that is part of good industrial design is.

You don’t always need to develop something new; it is often more important to refine and improve something that already exists.

Studio 7.5 have done that with a great deal of finesse… and that could just swing if for them.

Setu by Studio 7.5 for Herman Miller

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: Very good

Setu by studio 7.5 for herman miller

Setu by Studio 7.5 for Herman Miller ... detail

Setu by Studio 7.5

Setu by Studio 7.5

A degree of ambiguity in design provokes interpretation through performance. Design does not end with production; it becomes a life embedded in the work.

Sharing a space is a dynamic ritual, one that is open to improvisation. The seating design of Polytopia allows it to participate in the physical and social play of its environment. Polytopia acts as a spatial organ as it is flexible as well as programmed to sustain key functions, creating interconnected chairs, armrests, tables, voids, eddies and flows. Polytopia begins as a familiar but ambiguous geometry that offers seams and folds awaiting interaction. In any given state the Polytopia is incomplete and demands further adjustment by rotating, sliding, closing and opening. As an exercise in modular design principles, Polytopia has been reduced to three basic forms to facilitate the ease of production in recycled plastic using standard rotational moulding techniques.

Lucas Chirnside

And that’s about all we can say about Polytopia by Lucas Chirnside

Because it is another of those products that hides… almost as if it doesn’t want to be found.


Polytopia by Lucas Chirnside

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: Impossible to tell, beacuse we just can’t find anything resembling useful information.

2010 Brit Insurance Design Awards Lucas Chirnside Polytopia

Polytopia by Lucas Chirnside

“Most managers think that if you are away from your desk, you’re not working. It needs progressiveness to recognise that someone who sits on a sofa can still be creating value for the company.”

Tom Lloyd, PearsonLloyd

Back in the day when men wore hats, women wore aprons and we all believed in a future with rocket powered cars, office design was simple.

A big room. Thousands of desks.

Then along came the cubicle, an invention that may have brought us Dilbert, but very little else of note.

And since then various office design concepts have come and gone.

But not only office design concepts, office work has also changed remarkably over the decades; changes that provide real challenges to office furniture designers.

PARCS by PearsonLloyd for Bene is an attempt to rise to the challenge.

Founded in 1997 by London Royal College of Art graduates Tom Lloyd and Luke Pearson, PearsonLloyd focus, in their words, on “the commercial and industrial realities of mass production”

The development of the PARCS system started with a meeting between PearsonLloyd and Bene at the Orgatec 2006 office furniture trade fair in Cologne and focused principally on a thorough analysis of different ways of working. From this analysis arose a design concept that prioritized improving the performance of individual tasks.

The  end  result may not be earth shatteringly new; by mixing and matching different products, companies can create areas for concentrated individual work, team work, brain storming , relaxing or holding presentations.

Bene , however, claim that PARCS is the “first industrialised product line of its kind with a holistic and cultural approach.”

Our question, however, is:Iis such a range truly necessary?

We don’t think so.

We believe that through using products from different ranges, different companies and different materials it is possible to create a much more productive atmosphere than though the clinically, sterile atmosphere created by PARCS. Looking at the Bene product images we know that we would rather starve to death than work for the “company” in the photos.

Excellent and high-quality as all the individual elements are, for us the complete image is simply Cubicle 2.0

And we already have Dilbert.

However, the concept behind the project, the innovation that PearsonLloyd have brought into play in creating the project and the new approaches that have arisen, fit wonderfully with the intentions of the Brit Insurance Design Awards, and as such it wouldn’t surprise us if they won it.

PARCS by PearsonLloyd for Bene

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: Excellent.

parcs pearsonlloyd bene elements

PARCS by PearsonLloyd for Bene

parcs pearsonlloyd bene tom lloyd luke pearson

Tom Lloyd and Luke Pearson in PARCS for Bene

parcs pearsonlloyd bene

PARCS by PearsonLloyd for Bene - excellent product, but would you want to work in this office?

Pallet Project by Nina Tolstrup is the only piece of furniture in the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Awards shortlist that doesn’t exist.

Extrusions sort of exists.

Palindrome isn’t intended for series production.

But the Pallet Project is just a concept.

Danish born designer Nina Tolstrup initially studied at Les Ateliers School of Industrial Design in Paris before completing a BA in Marketing from the Business School in Copenhagen. Her studio, Studiomama, is based in London and undertakes numerous design, architecture and product contracts.

The Pallet Project is intended to provide the basics from which anyone can produce simple, quality furniture from discarded pallets: a concept that not only reuses an item commonly discarded as waste, but which also allows local scale furniture production without the need for supply chains.

Aside from the wonderfully light form of the items, we find the concept fantastic.

Although we would find it an awful lot better if Nina made the construction guidelines available free on a website rather than charging ten pounds for them.
Then it would be sustainable. Then it would be global.

Pallet project by Nina Tolstrup

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: Very good.

pallet chair nina tolstrup

Pallet Chair by Nina Tolstrup

pallet lamp nina tolstrup

Pallet Lamp by Nina Tolstrup

For us the key word in Peter Marigold‘s description of Palindrome is “installation”. Palindrome is a work of art…
And art aint furniture.

London born Peter Marigold initially studied Fine Art, specialising in sculpture, at Central St Martins College London before moving on to Product Design at the Royal College of Art studying, under others, Ron Arad.

The Palindrome series was created in response to a brief set by the “Designers of the Future Award” at Design Miami/Art Basel 2009.

The basic element of Palindrome is “mirroring”; specifically Marigold creates a wood mould, fills this with plaster, removes the mould and joins the two halves together.
The result is a product which is not only half plaster and half wood; but in which the two halves are perfect mirrors of one another. Holes become handles, knots become motives, etc…

So far, so art.
And that is what it remains.
Nice concept, wonderfully executed, cleverly responding to the brief.
But it’s art.

It aint furniture design
For through the process of creating Palindrome Peter Marigold hasn’t provided the world of international furniture design with new processes, new ideas or new perspectives.

Palindrome by Peter Marigold.
Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: a lot higher than they should be.

palindrome peter marigold

Palindrome by Peter Marigold

Firstly we must admit that when we saw the Houdini chairs in Milan last year… we ignored them and kept walking.
Which doesn’t necessarily mean that we didn’t like them… But isn’t exactly an indication of our confidence in them either.

Following a carpentry apprenticeship, Freising (the town next to Munich Airport) born Stefan Diez studied Industrial Design at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in  Stuttgart.  After spells working with Richard Sapper and Konstantin Grcic, Stefan Diez opened his own studio in 2003. Widely regarded as one of the most talented young German Industrial designers, Stefan Diez has worked with firms such as Thonet, Wilkhahn and Moroso.

As already indicated the Houdini Armrest Chair was launched by e15 at the 2009 Saloni in Milan.

Where we ignored it.

The secret of the Houdini Armrest Chair lies in its construction: lengths of oak-veneered plywood are carefully formed around and glued too a milled central ring. It is the overlapping of these plywood lengths that give the Houdini Armrest Chair its distintive form and character. Our main problem with Houdini is the legs – which for our money look like a cheap afterthought and not part of a well considered master plan.

What we really don’t understand however is that only the “armrest chair” appears to have been nominated. Whereas with other nominations, such as Grassworks or Breathe, the whole collection is nominated – the judges apparently didn’t like the side chair version of the Houdini range.

Which can’t bode well for it’s chances.

Houdini Armrest Chair by Stefan Diez

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: low

Houdini Armrest Chair by Stefan Diez

Houdini Armrest Chair by Stefan Diez

Houdini by Stefan Diez the Brit insurance Design awards dont like the side chair

Houdini by Stefan Diez the Brit Insurance Design Awards judges don't like the side chair

Houdini Armrest Chair by Stefan Diez  construction

Houdini Armrest Chair by Stefan Diez construction

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