BMW World (BMW Welt) in Munich at night

iF Design Award 2019: Technology products at the forefront of winners

Image credit: Dbyjuhfl | Dreamstime.com

The winners of the annual iF Design Award have been unveiled in Munich, Germany, with autonomous and electric vehicles and systems, apps/software and robots among the most popular products chosen by an international jury panel of 67 design experts.

Each year, the iF International Forum Design GmbH, a Hannover-based organisation that provides design-related services, presents this internationally renowned recognition of good design. The independent jury – experts from 20 countries – met in Hamburg in January to choose the winners of the coveted iF Design Award.

CEO of the iF International Forum Design organisation, Ralph Wiegmann, honoured the 66 best works with the iF gold award 2019 – in the form of a gold iF sculpture – during the awards ceremony at the BMW Welt in Munich.

Introduced in 1954, the iF Product Design Award reflect the latest trends, innovation and uniqueness of products used in our everyday lives. Awarded submissions span across seven disciplines.

These categories are:

  • Product Design (automobiles/vehicles, telecommunication, industry/tools)
  • Communication Design (apps/software, websites)
  • Packaging Design (beverages, food, beauty/health)
  • Service Design / UX (retail, education, entertainment)
  • Architecture (trade fairs/commercial exhibitions)
  • Interior Architecture (office/work spaces, shops/showrooms)
  • Professional Concept (mobility, sustainability, usability/interface)
iF Product Design Award logo

Image credit: iF International Forum Design

“I think the iF Award are the most prestigious awards in the world,” says Damian Mackiewicz of Harman International Industries in the US, and one of the judges on the design panel. “This is because it is judged by so many international designers. And having this opportunity to have your product design being judged by so many talents – from all around the world – is just valuable.”

The award-winning entries can be seen at the iF design exhibition at Hamburg from 16 March, where more than 1,500 square metres of exhibition space have been divided into three sub-exhibitions, each with different categories.

Sixty-six out of 6,375 entries from around 50 countries were selected by the judging panel, the majority of which lie under the product design discipline and under categories such as automobiles/vehicles, apps/software, building technology, computer, medicine/health devices and telecommunication.

Overall, there were 17 winners in those respective categories. Furthermore, other technology-related winners include an automated car called the BMW Vision iNext under the discipline called ‘professional concept’.

“We, the jury, were genuinely impressed to see how high the design quality of many products has become. An acceptable design is now seen as standard. As is the quality of the workmanship,” said jury chairman, Fritz Frenkler.

“It is, however, striking that there is a great desire to follow design benchmarks rather than daring to try anything really new. It takes a great deal of courage to be truly innovative and shareholders who are prepared to take a risk.

“At the same time, it is not about striving for diversity at any cost – good, clear and intuitive design is what the user should be offered – in any design discipline!” 

The BMW Vision iNEXT, an automated SUV which is emission-free and can be driven autonomously if desired, as mentioned above, was announced as one of the winners.

The BMW Vision iNEXT | Automated car

The BMW Vision iNEXT | Automated car; BMW Group Design

Image credit: BMW Group Design

Regarding BMW’s design under the mobility category, the jury said: “The BMW Vison iNEXT gives a clear perspective on the possibilities for the 2021 highly automated, emission-free, and fully connected vehicle.”

On the subject of autonomous vehicles, Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) also scooped a Gold Award in the Professional Concept discipline along with BMW’s automated SUV

Volvo Construction Equipment; Volvo CE

Collaborating with Lego Technic, the Volvo Concept Wheel Loader ZEUX is a digital prototype for a real-world autonomous construction machine and has been hailed as a realistic next step in the evolution of construction machines by the jurors. 

“This is more than a toy construction play set with a drone for young talents who want to improve their technical skills. Volvo and LEGO teams have combined their professional experience to create a constructive concept for future engineers. What a great way to get the next generation interested in complex thinking while playing!” the experts stated. 

Within the automobile/vehicles category, Designworks, a BMW Group Company in the US, also won the award after its collaboration with German manufacturer Ionity in creating an electric-vehicle charging system.

IONITY | Electric vehicle charging system

The company hopes this technology will give electromobility a boost; Designworks

Image credit: Ionity GmbH

Designworks created the charging station architecture, the charger pylons, and the digital interaction concept for the first European fast-charge network for long-distance travel. The company’s overall goal is to dispel concerns about range and make electromobility more attractive for long-distance travel.

Another winner within the automobile/vehicles category is a quirky looking electric scooter designed by Berlin-based manufacturer, UJet, which is the first-ever mass-produced orbital wheel and asymmetrical framed electric scooter. The frame is made from advanced composite materials more commonly used in aerospace.

UJet electric scooter for electric mobility solutions

The UJet electric scooter is the first mass-produced orbital wheel scooter; UJet

Image credit: UJet International

According to the jury, “UJet’s electric scooter is a true all-rounder for any situation! It helps with all the challenges of big cities thanks to its small and foldable design, orbital wheels for higher security, a navigation system, a camera and even a telephone.”

The mobile designer browser, looking to compete with the Google’s Chrome or Apple’s Safari browsers, Opera Touch, was also announced as one of the winners.

Designed by a team in Oslo, Norway, Opera Touch features an innovative UI that can be operated with the thumb. Known as the Fast Action Button, all browser control elements are positioned at the bottom of the screen. This prevents users from dropping their phones as, in other web browsers, users must reach to the top of the screen to access the most important control elements.

Opera Touch mobile app

Opera Touch mobile app; Opera

Image credit: Opera

“The Opera Touch interface allows users a much more efficient, faster and even ergonomic browsing experience. The instant accessibility and responsiveness are striking. Spot on for the user’s thumb!” the jury said.

Sony Corporation also won big with its aibo entertainment robot designed by a team based in Tokyo, Japan.

With its first consumer model introduced in 1999, the robotic pet now uses Sony’s cloud-linked AI technology, which allows the machine to interact with a human companion. The robot includes 22 drive actuators that allow it to move in different ways, such as tilt its head and twist its haunches. 

aibo toy robot in the form of a dog

aibo toy robot in the form of a dog; Sony Corporation

Image credit: Sony Corporation

Regarding the toy robot, the jury said: “aibo is responsive design at its best. It is notable for its round shapes and fluid, animal-like features and movements. aibo includes 22 drive actuators that make the robot dog a lively and adorable companion for every age, especially for allergy sufferers! Well thought-out design in so many aspects!”

The Trade Fairs/Commercial Exhibitions category was also popular among designers, with an exhibition design known as ‘Neuro Surge’ – designed by skincare and make-up company, Shiseido, in Japan – which was created from advanced-material fibres and used an interactive wall which creates visual images when touched and pushed.

'Experience a new energy' exhibition design in Tokyo

The exhibition called 'Neuro Surge' uses technology and advanced-material fibres; Shiseido

Image credit: Shiseido Co.

Other winners that received awards were under categories such as industry/tools, household/tableware, retail/hospitality, bathroom, kitchen, websites and residential.

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