Design Week Awards 2011: the night & the winner

11.03.11

We reveal the winners of the Design Week Awards coveted Consumer Product Design award

As you might have spotted, we were one of the proud sponsors of the Design Week Awards this year.

The Design Week Awards champions the fine work of the design industry, across a broad range of categories from packaging to identities to wayfinding to apps to posters and everything in-between.

Glitz and glamour

Of course as well as helping celebrate great design, we also got to attend the swanky event itself, which adhered the age-old tradition of spiralling from formal networking to boozy dancing over the course of a couple of hours.

We sponsored the Consumer Product Design award, a category with which we’re very familiar, and have helped the likes of Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever with over the years. It’s an interesting category because it relies not only on an insight into how people live and engage with products, but also on great and visionary design to see how it can be improved. Moreover, it’s a category which raises a number of unique research challenges, some of which are highlighted in an Research magazine article our very own Stuart Costley contributed to here.

There were a total of nine products shortlisted in the category (which we’ve covered here), but there can be only one winner…

… except here. In such a competitive category the judges saw fit to award two winners: Apple, for the iPad, and New Edge, for the Dell Adamo XPS. Incidentally, the iPad also went on to be the Overall Winner for the night – The Big Picture knows how to pick a winner!

Dell Adamo XPS by New Edge

Joint winner: Dell Adamo XPS by New Edge

It was awfully democratic of the judges to jointly award a PC and an Apple product. The Mac vs PC debate has been raging for years, but it’s no secret that hardware design is one area in which Apple’s competitors have struggled comparatively. Moreover, it’s testament to the growing importance of design in consumers’ decision-making that the market has shifted towards Apple in recent years.

All of which makes New Edge‘s achievements with the Dell Adamo XPS all the more impressive. At 0.99cm thick, it’s a strong contender for the 0.29cm-1.7cm Macbook Air in the thinness stakes, and it has a few other inclusions like touchscreen technology. But the clever bit is in the hinging between the keyboard and screen which, when opened, props the keyboard up to an adjustable 20 degree angle. It’s a simple, clever idea, nicely executed – and begs the question why it hasn’t been done before. Whether you’d buy it over the Macbook Air is another question (a decision probably more dependent on your Mac vs PC viewpoint), but it’s hard to overlook the innovation and smart design that’s been achieved in this laptop.

iPad by Apple

Joint winner: iPad by Apple

We blogged on the iPad shortly after it came out, but with the iPad 2 recently announced, this seems as good a time as any to reflect on what is an exceptional piece of design.

Apple calls it “magical”, and it’s difficult not to go along with that when you consider that some of the 65,000 apps are being used in fields as advanced and diverse as astronomy, brain surgery and helping autistic children to learn. And while those are extreme examples, it’s also had truly massmarket appeal: in the nine months following its launch in April 2010, Apple sold 15 million iPads – more than every tablet PC ever sold.

Why? Because it gets almost everything right.

Firstly, it’s built on a visionary insight – that there’s a space between the smartphone and the computer which isn’t fully satisfied by just ‘smaller computers’ and needs a fresh approach.

And secondly, Apple appear to be the only company able to fully deliver on that insight. Their unique mastery of both hardware and software is manifested here in a device which blends desirability with accessibility, making touch feel as easy and intuitive for technophobes as it is fast and flexible for the technophiles.

And while Steve Jobs is the media figurehead for Apple, it’s their (British!) Principal Designer Jonathan Ive that is revered in the design community. In the context of Apple’s other achievements, his contribution to the design of devices that have defined our generation (iPod, iPhone, iPad, Macbook Pro…) marks him out as the defining designer of our era.

Our hearty congratulations go to both winners.