Today, the red dot design award, the origins of which go back to 1955, is one of the largest and most renowned design competitions worldwide. It consists of the individual disciplines “red dot award: product design”, “red dot award: communication design”, and “red dot award: design concepts”, which has been held annually in Singapore since 2005. In 2007 the competition recorded more than 7,000 entries from 60 nations.
Product Design 2008 entries showed the growing importance of high-quality design: after receiving 2,548 entries in 2007, the competition received the record number of 3,203 entries from a total of 51 countries. In the face of an overall further increase in design quality the international jury of 24 was able to award the “red dot” quality label for good design 676 times this year. Fifty products even received the “red dot: best of the best”, the highest award of the competition, for their pioneering design and special innovations.
The jury’s assessment criteria
The submitted products are evaluated according to the highest standards. The adjudication process follows a canon of strict criteria, which is constantly adapted to the latest findings in formal, technical, manufacturing, societal, industrial and ecological requirements. These criteria provide a guiding framework, which is filled in individually by each juror.
Degree of innovation Is the product new in itself or does it supplement an existing product with a new, desirable quality?
Functionality Does the product fulfill all requirements of handling, usability, safety, and maintenance, and does the manual explain its use in a comprehensible way?
Ergonomics Is the product adapted appropriately to the physical and, if necessary, psychic conditions of the user?
Self-explanatory quality What does the product convey about its purpose and use without knowing the manual? How distinct are product semantics and product graphics?
Formal quality How logical is the constructive structure and the congruity of the formal composition? How is the form related to the function?
Ecological compatibility Are materials, material costs, manufacturing technology and energy consumption in an appropriate proportion to the product utility? To what extent have disposal problems and recycling issues been considered?
Durability Have the product’s material, formal, and non-material value been designed for a long life-span?
Symbolic and emotional content What does the product offer the user beyond its immediate practical purpose in terms of sensual quality, possibilities of a playful use or emotional attachment?
Product periphery How is the product as part of a system integrated into the system environment? How have packaging and disposal issues been solved?
2008 Red Dot Design Award Winners
In addition to expected winners like Apple’s iphone and the Playstation3, there were several beautifully designed lesser known products. Because there were so many winners and so many categories, I’m posting pictures of my own personal favorites (because..hey, it’s my blog) from each category below:
1. Living rooms and bedrooms
Furniture, furniture accessories, textiles, floorings, wallpaper and decorations
above: Carpet Dia Moho hej! designed by Michal Kopanisyn
above: The Wishbone Coat rack by Frost
above: Camouflage wall hooks by Frost
Kitchen furniture, kitchen equipment and accessories, professional kitchens
above: Bodum toaster
Domestic appliances and machines, glass, ceramics, porcelain, cutlery and utensils
above: Tupperware’s Stainless Steel Professional Grade Knives
above: Nailclipper by AWGoeddert
heatings, sanitary installations and air-conditioning
Bathroom furnishings, accessories, sanitary installations, heating and air-conditioning technology
above: Sensa Mare bathroom collection by Hoesch
above: Eva Solo Toilet Paper Holder
5. Lighting and lamps
Indoor and outdoor lighting, lighting systems and installations, lighting accessories
above: the City Swan by Philip Lys
above: Mercury Suspension light by Ross Lovegrove for Artemide
Garden furniture and architecture, landscaping, garden equipment, tents, camping and accessories
above: Eva Solo Ceramic birdbath
above: outdoor planter designed by Ingo Fotzel for Eternit
7. Sport, games and leisure
Sports and fitness equipment, bicycles and biking accessories, sports clothes and shoes, saunas, solariums, massage equipment, games, musical instruments
above: ID2 Adidas Silhouette Goggles
above: Wilhelm Schimmel piano fortefabrik
8. Jewellery, fashion and lifestyle
Glasses, watches, bags, suitcases, luxury jewellery, fashion jewellery and accessories
above: Zheus readers by WP
above: Omega Fine Leather Collection
above left: Danish Design watch by S.WeiszUurwerken; above right: Mario Botta watch
9. Architecture and interior design
Town-planning, building technology, public design, temporary architecture, exhibition design, shop design, shop equipment, interior design, sales displays, building components, switches, timers, security technology, windows, doors, orientation systems and signage, micro-architecture
above: concrete tiles by Oberhauser SchedlerBau
above: Samsung Engineering
Office furniture, office equipment, furniture for reception halls and waiting rooms, office accessories
above: Management P2 Collection by Bene
above: Task chair by MeToo
above: Kinzo’s Air Desk
11. Industry and crafts
Machines, industrial plant and equipment, components, tools, technology, measuring and testing equipment
above: Eton’s emergency radio, designed by Whipsaw
above: Pfaff Sewing Machine
12. Life science and medicine
Medical equipment and devices, laboratory technology and furniture, medical furniture and sanitary equipment, furnishings for rehabilitation centers and hospitals
above: Health Care Bed by Huntleigh
13. Automobiles, transport and caravans
Automobiles and automotive accessories, automobile technology, navigation equipment, caravans, construction and commercial vehicles, buses, railway carriages, sports vehicles, motorbikes, boats, ships, aircraft, accessories and components
above: The Skoda Fabia
above: Bombardier Ski-Doo
14. Entertainment technology
TVs, DVDs, digital cameras, MP3 players, camcorders, hi-fi systems, sound systems, projectors, accessories
above: Metz Primus EinsPlus HDTV
above: the Cubo Elements from Sonoro Audio
above: Bose computer music monitor
above: Inno B2 Compact Barbie MP3 player
Mobile phones, telephones and accessories
above: Tatung Tricom conference system
above: Tatung Bluetooth phone
Computers, notebooks, servers, keyboards, modems, printers, scanners, monitors, peripheral devices and accessories
above: The cha cha series by Nova Design
above: the FlyBook by Dialogue Tech
This year the design experts for the first time honored 137 products, which stood out from the masses due to their extremely successful detail solutions, with an honorable mention. Such an honorable mention is to encourage companies and designers to further increase their investment in design and quality and continue on the path they have taken.
All award-winning and honourable mention-winning products will be presented in the “Design on stage – winners red dot award: product design 2008” exhibition from 24 June to 27 July 2008 in the Essen red dot design museum on the premises of the ‘Zeche Zollverein’ World Cultural Heritage Site. With 1,500 products on more than 4,000 square metres, the red dot design museum houses the largest permanent exhibition of contemporary design worldwide.
Below are the observed trends in design within each individual category of the red dot competition.
Trendspots 2008 by Red Dot
In the era of globalisation, cueing in on countries’ cultural traditions can be of great benefit in achieving differentiation in the market. Preserving the distinct features of individual cultures by means of design is thus of great import. No wonder then that design – as the language of a society – is placing more emphasis than ever on mindful details that give a product an identity of origin. For example, the umbrellas stashed inside the doors of any Rolls-Royce give the luxury car its unique British allure. Likewise, innovative interpretations of Asian culinary culture in kitchenware have special appeal for many. This year’s awards demonstrate: Design revolves around people! Contemporary product design not only has to be aesthetically pleasing, it must also trigger emotions and make everyday life as comfortable as possible. The design concepts we see today give us a taste for what tomorrow’s products may look like: As the world continues to come together, we benefit from an incredible diversity and an undreamt abundance of inspirations for unlimited design possibilities.
1. Living rooms and bedrooms – New design dimensions lead to new interpretations
The future is here – in the “living rooms and bedrooms” category, designers are putting more emphasis on the selection of materials. Newest technologies and manufacturing methods allow for the use of innovative materials that open up a vast range of possibilities for future design. Among the new materials are shiny, metallic net structures which, particularly popular in textile surfaces, allow to minimise the quantity of materials and convey a sense of lightness and freshness. The design of this category is clearly inspired by the new technical possibilities. Completely new design dimensions are being explored and innovatively applied. Moreover, the quality in the category is high throughout, with designers daring to set new standards. The design vocabulary is expressive and diverse – from sculptural opulence to purism, everything is possible. The smallest details are highly functional and perfectly designed, while decorative elements are applied with great artistry to set accents. Intelligent interpretations and utmost comfort – with their concepts, designers are catering to an extremely refined target group. In particular, the designers from this category have mastered the great challenge of transmitting well thought-out complexity with simplicity.
2. Households – Design as a mirror of society
Design should not only make everyday life more beautiful, it should also make it easier! Only well-designed, refined, and functional products can hope to survive on the market. Moreover, in this era of globalisation, design also serves to reflect on the cultural diversity of our planet. This year’s designers from the “households” category paid particular attention to social and cultural aspects. The submissions come from all parts of the globe and many of the awarded products combine highquality, innovative design with traditional qualities. Whereas design conventionally sought to be as universal as possible, it now seeks to distinguish the identity of a culture. In this way, designers transmit tradition in an original but technically perfected way. The underlying idea then attains a completely new, exposed meaning and becomes a source of inspiration. User-friendly solutions and easy operability are among the top priorities. Together with high quality that is nevertheless reduced to the essentials, the products then capture the pulse of the time. Design as communicator – with their design vocabulary, designers appeal to all the senses, awaken emotions, and promote the enhancement of everyday life.
3. Gardens – The garden as tomorrow’s living space
In the “gardens” category as well, wellness is increasingly becoming a main design consideration. On the whole, gardens are still a relatively new design field which designers are slowly discovering and appropriating. Following years of progress in technological garden tools, designers are now concentrating on outdoor furniture and lifestyle items. The notion of the garden is thus changing from a utilitarian space to a more intimate living space. Precipitated by global warming, people can be expected to spend more time outside. The selection and high-quality design of outdoor furniture opens completely new perspectives. Innovative materials resist all kinds of weather, allow for new structures, and offer highest user comfort. The garden then becomes an oasis of relaxation. Traditional products are questioned, reinterpreted, and given a new face. The products are designed from a universal perspective and for all generations. They are highly functional, aesthetic, and above all easy to use. The design of new garden tools tries to simplify work through functional solutions. The more complex the technology, the more sophisticated the design has to be. The designers combine minimal and appealing forms with ingenious-yet-simple technology. In all concepts, people, the users, take centre stage. The designers combine good ideas with consummate skill and set standards for tomorrow’s market.
4. Automobiles, transport and caravans – Visual identity creates trust in the brand
The designers in the “automobiles, transport and caravans” category clearly place emphasis on the visual identity of vehicles. The increased need for mobility of our global society is accompanied by the increased need for visual differentiation among producers. Distinct details here serve to shape brands and anchor their image in car culture and history. Casual elegance and dynamic contours pervade all vehicle classes, while sports cars retain their characteristic aggressive expressiveness. The manufacturers thereby remain true to their values with a pronounced design vocabulary. The complex mechanisation in the automobile sector has clearly made for an impressive athletic appearance. For manufacturers, highest quality for materials and processing is a matter of course, just as is the assumption of social and ecological responsibility. Efficiency and safety have utmost priority and technical possibilities are exploited where possible. However, designers are not only preoccupied with the exterior of cars: To no lesser degree, interior design shows for top comfort and user-friendliness. Proud design concepts appeal to the emotions of the target clientele and with small, carefully thought-out details, designers create trust in a brand and convince clients. A good example of such a detail is the umbrella integrated in the door frames of any British Rolls-Royce.
5. Entertainment technology – Discreet restraint for highest aesthetics
Design is becoming increasingly important in the electronics industry. The international competition is getting stronger and calls for highest quality. The submissions in the “entertainment technology” category show the high esteem which design holds not only in business but also in society. The products now come from all parts of the world and their consistently exceptional quality has elevated the design standard as a whole. In the past years, design seems to have been lowered a notch in favour of an emphasis on the technical achievements. This year, however, design presented itself more confident than ever: Highly developed technology is implemented with experimental and innovative fervour and expressed with impressive design solutions. People are once again the focus of interest. Some design concepts also demonstrate wit and humour to promote the playful usage of a very compacted technology. Functional and reduced design also allows for highest user value. Discreet restraint, a good material selection, and a clear design vocabulary provide a high-quality aesthetics. The designers are open for everything and offer creative and comprehensive solutions that often have high entertainment value. This year’s expert jury was impressed by the diversity and the internationality of the submissions. The Asian market continues to have a very strong presence, with Asian designers delivering striking concepts that inspire new possibilities.
6. Communication – The simpler the design, the more convincing the service
The technology in the “communication” category has reached a plateau, resulting in a renewed focus on appearances on the part of designers. Designers vie to outdo each other with small finesses and the level of quality is consistently high. Given the complex mechanisation of the products, the ultimate challenge lies in a clear design vocabulary. The simpler the design, the more convincing the service. Cell phones are more differentiated than ever, be it in regard to colour, form, or function, and designers cater to the most varying target groups with a seemingly unlimited product selection. With the race for the sleekest device apparently concluded, producers are now placing increased emphasis on user-friendliness and a solid form. This year’s submissions leave no doubt that international design has become one of the most important economic factors. As always, the customer is the centre of interest. Technology requires a good form, and this form must engage the emotions for the product to succeed on the market. Demands can be expected to continue rising steadily in the future; however, the market is prepared for this challenge.
7. Computers – Top performance in minimal space
The computer industry operates on the market with a clear design vocabulary. Here as well the principle is: The more complex the technology, the more purist the design. Ultra-light design solutions and a delicate design vocabulary convey a transcendental touch and suggest dynamism and mobility. At this point, all devices are multifunctional and blend well into a modern-purist lifestyle. Integrative concepts offer numerous interfaces and individual components are visually finetuned to each other. The designers present future-oriented design concepts with minimal use of materials. With considerably increased demands placed on the computer sector within the last years, the design quality is now oriented toward the technical comfort of the devices. On the whole, the submissions showed an increased awareness for design. In particular the Chinese market is establishing its autonomy more and more on an international level. The designers have confidence in presenting their creative design variants, which increasingly cater to the modern lifestyle and which embody both mobility and success.