Design Museum’s Designs of the Year 2016: Winners

A flat-pack refugee shelter was the overall winner, with category winners including David Bowie’s Blackstar album cover, a coffee cup for space, and an integrated bike helmet.

The Design Museum has announced the overall winner for the Beazley Designs of the Year 2016 – a flat-pack refugee shelter.

Better Shelter topped the overall list of nominees – as well as the architecture category - for its contribution towards the global issue of population displacement. 

Over 30,000 Better Shelters have been distributed and are already in use globally. The judges’ panel chose the flat-pack refugee shelter because it represents a scalable design that has the ability to make worldwide impact.

“Sadly, we have seen many instances recently where temporary shelter was necessary. Providing not only a design but secure manufacture as well as distribution makes this project relevant and even optimistic,” says awards judge Dr Jana Scholze, associate professor of Curating Contemporary Design at Kingston University.

Better Shelter is designed by Johan Karlsson, Dennis Kanter, Christian Gustafsson, John van Leer, Tim de Haas, Nicolo Barlera, the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR.

Better Shelter aims to provide safe and dignified homes for those displaced through conflict or natural disasters. The design features a lockable front door and solar powered wall, and utilises flat-pack technology so it can easily be assembled and transported. In fact, flat-packed into two boxes with the required tools, the shelter can be up within four hours. 

A photovoltaic panel provides enough energy to power the supplied light or to charge a mobile phone.

Previous winners of the Beazley Design of the Year awards include the London 2012 Olympic Torch and the Barack Obama Hope poster. Check out the winners from 2015

Now in it’s ninth year, the awards night was held in the new Design Museum in Kensington. You can check out the new building in our virtual tour

Other 2016 category winners include OpenSurgery, which won the Digital category for it’s robotic DIY nature and a coffee cup for astronauts won the product category.

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A video that featured children from Madrid commenting on fashion advertising won the fashion category, and Jonathan Barnbrook’s album cover art for David Bowie’s parting Blackstar album won the Graphics category. 

An integrated bicycle helmet kitted out with lights, brake and turn signals, designed by Eu-wen Ding and Jeff Haoran Chen won the transport category.

The exhibition runs from November 24 to February 19, 2017 at the Design Museum. See what other design, art & animation conferences, exhibitions and festivals which are worth jotting in your diary.

Here are some of the impressive designs from 2016's nominees.


Dreamland Margate

The old amusement park at Margate had fallen into disrepair and was about to be demolished, before it was reimagined as Dreamland Margate – a vintage style amusement park with retro rides and eateries.

Read our review of Dreamland Margate.

Design That Saves Lives

A Bangladesh textile factory collapsed and killed more than 1100 workers in 2013. Design That Saves Lives, a visual assessment theology, was developed to prevent further tragedy. It’s been adopted nationally throughout around 4000 factories ensuring a higher level of consistency and quality across the industry.

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Tate Modern Switch House

The New Tate Modern fuses the old and new as well as doubling the gallery space. It's linked by a generous public circulation system rising through the building. The vertical orientation of these spaces is clear in the same way that a horizontal orientation is evident in the first phase of the Tate Modern.


In the Eyes of the Animal

This immersive virtual reality experience of England’s forests is told through the eyes of the animals that live there. Through observing the function of animal sight the film and soundtrack creates a spectacular augmented reality.

Refugee Republic 

Refugee Republic is an interactive transmedia doco about a Syrian refugee camp, Domiz Camp, in northern Iraq. The experience is enriched through an anatomical sketch of everyday life in the camp by drawings, film, photography, sound and text.

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This War of Mine

This War of Mine is rather different to war games – instead of being a soldier you are a group of civilians trying to survive in a besieged city. The game provides an experience of war seen from an entirely new angle.



The secret collection released 110 protest posters online before a rally in Malaysia to push for government reform and the resignation of the prime minister. The name stands for Grafik Rebel Untuk Protes & Aktivisme (Malay for Graphic for Protest and Activism).

The Norwegian Landscape

Neue Design Studio was given the brief to create a unique design expressing Norewegian identity with an increase in security for Norwegian passports, ID cards and travel documents.

A combination of Norwegian panorama demonstrates a contrast of landscapes, climates, national pasttimes and historical events.

Check out the design behind the beautiful Norwegian bank notes in 2015.

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Channel 4 rebrand 

The rebrand of Channel 4 started with the original Lambie 3D logo from 1982. It was broken into pieces and created to reflect the originality and diversity of the channels programming. The blocks were places as part of nature as if rising from the ground.

First Aid Kit for Refugees & NGOs

The first aid kit uses a series of pictograms to create easy-to-understand instructions for mulptiple nationalistiies when they arrive at refugee camps.

Shot on iPhone: World Gallery

The recent advertising campaign by Apple creates a celebration of how smartphones have changed the way we take daily pictures and our relationship with photography.

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We Listen

The start of a new campaign for Samaritans. The work was designed to be eye catching in busy locations, primarily around train station platforms and other major transport hubs.

The portraits were taken by Nadav Kander from an unsual rear ¾ angle in order to draw the viewer into the subject’s world.


Adidas x Parley running shoe

The goal was to upcycle ocean plastic debris in a partnership with Parley for the Oceans. The idea was unveiled at the United Nations for this particular shoe design created from illegal deep-sea gillnets and recycled ocean plastic.

Drinkable Book

The book aims to raise awareness of the water crisis through germ-killing paper filters with live saving information printed on them. The silver paper water filter is an old technology; silver has been used for centuries to kill germs and the two can work together.

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Joto is an internet connected drawing device that makes digital content physical by recreating it with a pen. Homes, offices and education can display everything without a screen.

Kodak Super 8 Camera

The iconic Kodak film camera hade a comeback 50 years after its introduction. The new Super 8 is a true hybrid that professional and amateur filmmakers will see as a transformative tool – with the ability to shoot with film and receive both analogue and digital capture of their footage.


The latest series of Lego figurines features a wheel-chair user and a guide dog as a response to the ToyLikeMe campaign, creating a more diverse range for children to relate to.

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Space Cup

The Space Cup allows astronauts to drink from a cup rather than a straw using scientific results of experiements conducted aboard the International Space Station.

The Space Cup uses surface tension, fluid wetting propertieis and a unique shape to drive the liquid towards the astronauts mouth while drinking.

The BBC micro: bit

The BBC micro:bit is a pocket-sized, codeable computer that allows children to get creative with technology. It can be coded and customised with easy-to-use software in a dedicated website, as well as being able to connect to toher devices, sensors, kits and objects, acting as a spring-board to more complex learning.

Find out how to use the Micro Bit, what you can do with it, and where to buy it.

The Smog Free Project

The world’s largest air purifier transforms smog into jewellery using patented ion and energy technology. Each cufflink contributes to the purifying of 1000 cubic meters of polluted air.

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BeeLine – smart navigation for bikes

BeeLine lets the urban cycling masses control their own journey – instead of giving typical turn by turn instructions, BeeLine points the rider directly towards their desination similar to a compass, leaving them free to choose their own route and explore their city.

Lumos – Bicycle helmet

Lumos is a ‘smart bicycle helmet’ that integrates lights, brakes and turn signals into its design for urban riders. It detects when you’re slowing down and automatically displays a brake light so people behind you can easily see and react to your speed change. It’s also the highest funded bicycle helmet campaign in crowd funding history.