Design Museum's Designs of the Year 2015: winner revealed

See the overall winner, category winners and nominees at this year's exhibition of the best digital, graphic and product design (and more).

The overall winner of the Designs of the Year 2015 have been announcd by the Design Museum, across architecture, digital, fashion, graphics, product and transport.

Known as human-organs-on-chips, these microdevices are lined with human cells and mimic the design and function of human organs perfectly.

They were designed by Donald Ingber and Dan Dongeun, scientists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

"Each Organ-on-a-Chip models natural tissue structures and mirrors the dynamic mechanical behavior of internal organs." says its creators. "Chips can also can be linked to form a ‘Human Body-on-Chips’, which can be analysed to learn how drugs impact each organ as they are distributed and metabolized throughout the body.

"Cells from individual patients or from genetically-related populations can be used to inhabit these Organs-on-Chips to build mimics of their organs, a tactic that promises to advance personalized medicine, accelerate drug discovery and decrease development costs.

Read on to see our pick of this year's category winners and nominees – which are on show in the Museum on the bank of the Thames in London until March 31 2015 - and to discover what trends connect them.

The announcement follows the category winners being awarded in May. These included the campaign this poster is taken from, which aims to get people to buy unusually shaped - but still perfectly edible - fruit and vegetables, cutting down a huge amount of food waste. It was the category winner for Graphics.

Other winners include Google's self-driving car (Transport), The UC Innovation Center (Architecture), The Ocean Cleanup (Digital) and Thomas Tait AW13/14 (Fashion).

It would be easy to write off this year’s nominees for the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year as, well, a bit dull – but taken as a whole there are some interesting trends.

The exhibition's 76 projects include some brilliant design work bit everything seems to fit neatly into boxes we’ve seen before from an app hipsters adore (this year: Monument Valley – last year: Citymapper) to 3D printed prosthetic limbs (this year’s Project Daniel following on from 2013’s Magic Arms). The coolest, most futuristic stuff turns out to be just that: as Google’s autonomous car (shown here) and human-organs-on-chips are still in the early stages of their development.

What appears to be missing is anything with a sense of permanence. It’s difficult to find things that we’ll still be using or talking about in even a year’s time – aside from some of the architecture and cars, which by their nature of their size and cost mean that even if everyone hates them in a year’s time, they’re probably not going anywhere. There’s also little that will have the widespread impact of last year’s audience favourite Dumb Ways To Die (which has almost a 100 million views to date on YouTube) or 2013’s winner, – which is little-by-little subsuming all of the other UK government websites.

Look across the spectrum of entries from the fields Digital Arts focusses on – digital, graphic and product design –  and intriguing patterns emerge though. Many of them are forms that are unique to the user – whether having random differences creating through process of being hand-made physical products or procedurally generated, or being is personalised or tailored to the user’s needs or physical form.

Even Google’s autonomous car’s could be said to be personalised, as it goes where you tell it to – though that’s probably, ok ‘is', stretching the point.

So here I’ve picked out some projects that are indicative of this trend – plus some graphics pieces that, while not of major importance, are very pleasing to look at. The descriptions have been supplied by the nominees.

The Designs of the Year 2015 is at the Design Museum near Tower Bridge in London until August 23.

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Designed by Sean Murray

No Man's Sky is a science-fiction-based videogame about exploration and survival in an infinite procedurally generated galaxy. The aim is to ensure that players experience the sense of wonder captured by classic science-fiction stories - and to ensure that there are things in the galaxy of 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets that not even the developers are aware of. This scope is made possible by a unique engine, developed in-house.

Using procedural generation, the engine uses the computational power of next-generation consoles and PCs to generate terrain as the player explores.


Designed by ustwogames

Inspired by the art of M.C. Escher, Japanese prints and minimalist 3D design, Monument Valley is a surreal exploration through fantastical architecture and impossible geometry. Players of this mobile game must guide the silent Princess Ida through mysterious monuments, uncovering hidden paths, taking advantage of optical illusions and outsmarting the enigmatic Crow People. Each level is a hand-crafted combination of puzzle, graphic design and architecture.


Designed by Claire Warnier + Dries Verbruggen, Unfold (concept, design & hardware), Penny Webb (design & prototyping), Jesse Kirschner (concept & software)

Of Instruments and Archetypes is a range of wireless digital measuring instruments that transfer in realtime, measurements of physical objects to an on-screen digital 3D model. These instruments are designed to be used in applications where archetypical, parametric objects can be customised with exact measurements and materialised by digital production techniques such as 3D printing.

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Designed by Asif Khan

Megafaces, which debuted at the Sochi Olympics, is an experimental architectural installation. It comprises a large scale kinetic-volumetric LED display supported by a bank of automated 3d-scanning photo booths, an automated 3d scan meshing system, a tablet app which uses QR-code cards, an SMS notification system, an automated 3d modelling and lighting algorithm, a web portal, and a video streaming service. The installation was commissioned by MegaFon.

Described by the designer as ‘A Mount Rushmore for the digital age’, Megafaces is a building which could physically transform to take on the appearance of the people visiting it.


Designed by Marion Ferrec at the Royal College of Art, in collaboration with Kate Wakely

Disclosed is a service concept which offers a transparency certification and data ecosystem – the aim being to help shoppers make more informed choices about the products they purchase. Through simple and tailored digital layers of information, users can act on what they individually believe matters for their health and the planet. Disclosed helps users gain more control over their consumption and channel their spending into products that best meet their ambitions, ultimately influencing retailers to invest in lines that better reflect those.


Designed by Christian Brändle, Karin Gimmi, Barbara Junod, Christina Reble, Bettina Richter (editors), NORM/Dimitri Bruni, Manuel Krebs, Teo Schifferli, Ludovic Varone (design), Martina Mullis (production), Lars Müller (publisher)

A survey of 100 years of graphic design in Switzerland, taking in posters, corporate design, advertising and type. More than in many other countries, Swiss graphic design shows an uninterrupted evolution of visual dictions and production techniques throughout the 20th century with recognized international influence.

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Designed by Jeroen Krielaars (Initiator and participating artist), Derek Weathersby (Type designer), Clark Rhee + Wesley Slover (Music and sound design)

Franchise Animated is a collaborative animated typeface created by one type designer and a roster of 110 animators from all over the world. Each animator has picked a glyph and animated it in their personal style. The result is a wide variety of styles and techniques, with a colour palette and letterforms which tie the project together. The file is completely open and contains all the keyframes, expressions and artwork from the artists, it is currently available at


Designed by Kellenberger–White

The biennial Glasgow International showcases the city as a unique major centre for contemporary visual art. Kellenberger–White was commissioned to design the identity for the festival’s 2014 edition. The identity is a highly characterful typeface that captures the quickness and scale of large hand-painted lettering used on warehouses, docks and ships throughout Glasgow’s industrial waterfront. The hand-painted digitised font maximised inexpensive materials.


Designed by Marcel for Intermarché

A campaign across film, print, billboards, radio, in-store, PR, social media to rehabilitate the imperfect fruits and vegetables by celebrating the beauty of the ridiculous potato, the hideous orange or the failed lemon. The idea was to show people that, though they might by ugly looking, there are as good as any others, but 30% cheaper.

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Designed by Toni Halonen for Kenzo Paris

Kenzopedia was an article series published trough the spring of 2014 on the Kenzo's web page. Its aim was to open up the inspirations and themes behind the spring collection. The headlines of the 26 articles came from different letters of the alphabets and contained an illustrated story that was related to it.


Designed by Pentagram

The MIT Media Lab is an interdisciplinary research laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology devoted to projects at the convergence of technology, multimedia, sciences, art and design. Its new identity builds on the previous system, which launched with the Lab’s 25th anniversary in 2010 and was designed by Richard The and Roon Kang.
The new solution developed by Bierut and Pentagram designer Aron Fay uses the seven-by-seven grid of The’s anniversary logo to generate a simple “ML” monogram that serves as the logo for the Media Lab. Using that same grid, the designers extended the identity to each of the 23 research groups that lie at the heart of the Lab’s activity.


Designed by Graphic Thought Facility, Editor Laura Houseley

Art-directed by GTF, Modern Design Review is a new covering modern product and furniture design. The dust-jacket illustrates the magazine’s content with components of Martino Gamper, Yrjö Kukappuro and Muller Van Severen’s products presented in a carved, flower-arrangers foam brick — referencing the Japanese art of Ikebana featured in this launch issue.

The magazine templates provide structure and plasticity that allows each feature to forge its own visual direction. MDR’s own serif and sans-serif headline typefaces were created in conjunction with Housestyle to compliment the Starling and Haas Grotesk fonts used for the text setting.

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Designed by Metric Design and Snøhetta Design

In spring 2014 Norges Bank (The Central Bank of Norway) held a competition for the development of a design for a new Norwegian banknote series, communicating the theme ‘The Sea’. The obverse and reverse are by different designers, using modern pixel motifs on one side and more traditional illustration on the other.


Designed by Danielle Pender (Founder & Editor), Shaz Madani (Creative Director)

Each issue of this ‘smart magazine for women’ features five ideas, four meetings, three features, two essays and one icon. It profiles bold and fascinating women whose achievements speak for themselves. Essays and features cover a broader range of topics than the regular fashion or celebrity focus of women’s magazines, including art, design, music, business, innovation, politics, food and travel.


Designed by Romain André and Michael Savona

This campaign for MCA Chicago’s exhibition responded to the brief that ‘Every piece of art is a story waiting to be uncovered’. The ads aimed to make the exhibition—which explores contemporary artists’ interests in history, archaeology and archival research—accessible to the general public.

Four bus shelter ads placed around Chicago's Loop and a tip-in newspaper advertisement gave users the opportunity to become archaeologists and archive their own histories through the familiar language of lotto scratch-offs. When users scratched off the silver layer, which depicted a shovel artist Mark Dion illustrated for the exhibition catalogue, they revealed local artist Tony Tasset’s colorful portrait of himself dressed as Robert Smithson, as well as an offer for two-for-one admission to the museum.

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Designed by Sawdust (Typeface design) and Andrew Diprose (Art direction)

A custom typeface designed for Wired for use as section headers in the magazine. The aim was to create an eye-catching bespoke design which was both playful and readable.


Designed by Kano and Map

Kano is a computer and coding kit for all ages, all over the world. It is as simple as Lego and powered by Raspberry Pi. All elements of the kit were designed from scratch to create a unified experience and to be playful and desirable for children and young adults.

The packaging is designed to be an integral part of the product experience. It is used as storage for and organisation for the components and also has an instructional role. The kit includes a new wireless coding and gaming keyboard, Raspberry Pi, a new type of customisable case, a speaker module, packaging and accessories.


Designed by Nicholas Smith (CEO) and Eddy Vromen (Technical Director)

An iPad keyboard which works with both the iPad Air and the iPad Air 2, the BrydgeAir is intended to be ‘the missing half the iPad.’ Forged out of a single piece of aluminium, it features backlit keys, dual stereo speakers and a unique hinge.

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Designed by Marjan Van Aubel in collaboration with Solaronix

Current Table is a piece of furniture that also harvests energy from daylight to charge appliances. The glass table surface contains a Dye Sensitised Solar Cell. Based on photosynthesis it uses the properties of colour to create an electrical current.  Unlike classic solar cells, these coloured cells don’t need direct sunlight and are able to function under diffused light.


Designed by Mick Ebeling / Not Impossible

Project Daniel is the world’s first 3D-printing prosthetic lab, set up by Not Impossible founder Mick Ebeling after he saw footage of a teenager who lost both arms when a bomb went off while he was tending his parents’ cattle. The young man was Daniel Omar, a resident of a sprawling refugee camp called Yida. Ebeling tracked him down via humanitarian physician Dr. Tom Catena, and set about creating new limbs for Daniel with the help of a team of makers and Richard van As, the founder of open-source 3D-printing prosthetic company Robohand.

The project has a legacy beyond Daniel’s new limbs — Not Impossible left two 3D printers in Dr. Catena's Nuba Mountains hospital, in a community that had no concept of 3D-printing before his arrival. Ebeling trained locals to use the equipment so that other victims of the conflict are able to get access to a limb that costs $100 of materials, a fraction of the price of traditional solutions.


Designed By Marco Peluso (Inventor), Rosario Iannella (Inventor), Clara Gaggero Westaway (Designer), Adrian Westaway (Designer), Duncan Fitzsimons (Designer)

QardioArm is a clinically validated, portable blood pressure monitor, offering the smart way to measure and track systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate. The free Qardio App stores all your blood pressure readings, helps set measurement reminders and encourages users to keep their blood pressure in check.

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Designed by Libby Miller, Jasmine Cox, Andrew Nicolaou (BBC Research and Development)

Three innocuous-looking picture frames, originally placed strategically around the Ethical Dilemma Cafe at Mozilla Festival 2014. Each frame collects pictures of people nearby and information from their phones. The pictures and data are displayed on a projector and printed using a dot-matrix printer, giving the invisible information leaking from our devices noisy physical form.

These technologies are used by companies to track people for commercial purposes. BBC R&D created the installation as part of wider work investigating the costs and benefits of personalisation of media.


Designed by YooJung Ahn (Lead Industrial Designer), Jared Gross (Industrial Designer), Philipp Haban (Industrial Designer)

Google’s new vehicle has been designed to drive itself at the push of a button. The design is intended to be simple, friendly, and practical, with some surprises, including a lack of steering wheel or pedals. Google plans to use the vehicles to test their newest software & hardware and develop the technologies for use in the real world.