At CeBit you can see the latest do-it-all gadgets but if it’s good design you want, seek out the iF awards pavilion. E&T gives a run-down of the sleekest offerings.
'Good design isn't born of marketing, it's created by designers.' That was the conclusion of the jury for this year's iF product design awards from the International Forum Design as it announced this year's 50 gold award winners on the opening day of CeBit, the annual trade show for IT and consumer electronics in Hannover earlier this month.
CeBit may be hit by the recession but it's still vast. Nestling among its many halls is iF's permanent exhibition space dedicated to showcasing the world's best in industrial design. This year's jury said companies seem to have somehow lost the ability to pause and reflect among the relentless speed of development. If visitors want to see the difference between hurried, marketing-led design and more creative, human design they can just take a stroll around a few CeBit halls (PC accessories is a good example) and then compare this with what's on show in the iF pavillion. Apple usually cleans up, but this year got 'only' three of the 50 gold awards. Dirk Bartelsmeier helped us dig out some more unexpected winners.
You can see all winners at www.ifdesign.de/exhibition_index_e.
1. The Sheriff
An indoor wheelchair designed by Hareide Designmill and made by Krabat in Norway. The Sheriff is meant for convalescing children up to six years old, most likely in hospitals. The saddle seat helps to keep the patient from slumping while inward-sloping racing wheels give it a sporty look as well as making it easy to move. “In this field you find a lot of solutions but this is really different,” says Bartelsmeier.
2. The Story
The Story from South Korea-based iRiver has the now standard e-ink screen, a dish-shaped body for better grip, page-flipping buttons on each side and a keyboard to make notes. But it was the external look and feel, with a leather folder wrapped around it, that impressed the jury: “A beautiful synthesis of a traditional book with dust jacket, a rubber band holding it together and the fantastic inside which has a wonderful feel to the touch. It removes every prejudice that you could possibly have against e-books and invites the reader on a journey through the world of literature.”
Bartelsmeier is really excited about the design potential of this new category of device. “This designing has only just begun,” he says.
3. 404H barstool
Thonet is legendary in industrial design for its early mass-produced chairs that became classics for offices and cafes way back in the 19th century in designs still made today. It’s No 14 bistro chair is instantly recognisable. This new barstool, the 404H, was designed by Stefan Diez Industrial Design of Munich. As Bartelsmeier enthuses, it is brand new but totally in Thonet’s tradition at the same time. It’s made of just four pieces of plywood, with a saddle-like seat and an unexpected bounce.
4. Aero 2
The German company Storck Bicycle says the angles in this timetrial and triathlon bike also make it suitable for road racing. The Aero 2 has the brakes built into the carbon frame and forks for that little extra aerodynamics. “The front fork is integrated flush with the mainframe and all cabling is routed internally,” say the judges. “All the details are beautifully sculpted. The frame is relatively light, but nonetheless conveys a feeling of safety, of stability - something that is needed in this semi-professional sphere.”
5. Elderly phone
Mobile phones have been getting too complicated in recent years, Bartelsmeier reckons - trying to do everything at once at the expense of clear designs that are easy to use. He is pleased that the highly functional models are going touch screen while others are just going back to simple push-button phones. Newplan Design of Shenzhen, China, might not get top marks for the model name Elderly Phone, but it’s a good simple design. There are four buttons on the side (for volume, FM, torch and lock), three icons on the keypad (meant for daughter and son and a speaker for the hearing aid function) and an SOS button on the back. “I think this design is good for everyone,” says Bartelsmeier. “This is only a telephone and that’s it. I love it.”
6. Purity Jacket
German company Yeti has applied its know-how in sleeping bags to design the Purity lightweight padded and waterproof jacket, which is filled with real goose down in a special Nylon shell. It weighs only 200 to 250g and packs up into a little ball. “This jacket really wins you over through its unbelieveable lightness, achieved through its unique choice of materials: it weighs no more than a couple of bread rolls,” says the judging panel.
7. Ukihashi Chopsticks
Ukihashi chopsticks, designed by Mikiya Kobayashi and made by h Concept in Tokyo, are shaped so you can put them down without dirtying the tablecloth.