The new Brit Insurance Designs of the Year show started last week at the Design Museum, taking over from where the old Designer of the Year show left off in 2006. We went along on Saturday to take a look, and we'll tell you all about that in just a moment.
But first, a gentle rant.
The show is, as you can hardly have failed to notice, sponsored by Brit Insurance. They've stuck their name right in front of it. The awards that go with the show are sponsored by them too. They're called the Brit Insurance Design Awards. And frankly, that's just rubbish. Instead of being mutually beneficial, it's mutually detrimental. It makes the Design Museum look cheap, happy to bend over, grab its ankles and get its elegantly shaped butt branded by its corporate master; and it makes Brit Insurance look greedy and egomaniacal. Instead of making the event and awards the most important thing, they've made their sponsorship the important thing. And that doesn't make us like them much.
This is a grim trend that's been happening wherever sponsorship occurs (Carling Academy anyone?). Don't get us wrong, it's a very good thing that corporate sponsorship exists. It makes stuff happen, in bigger and better ways than would otherwise be possible. But, please, let's restore some sense of modesty, elegance and sophistication to the way it's done. Wouldn't the Designs of the Year show, as supported by Brit Insurance, sound far better? Patronage, not prostitution*.
The show itself is a great mix of work arranged by discipline: Architecture, Fashion, Furniture, Graphics, Interactive, Product and Transport. You might question some of the entries, but it's a really valuable opportunity to see what's being going on across the design spectrum in the past year. It's also great to be able to play with some of the entries, including the Nintendo Wii, Toshio Iwai and Yu Nishibori's TENORI-ON digital musical instrument, and Ross Phillips' Replenishing Body Kiosk (pictured above, being used by some kids in a much looser way than intended).
In the graphics section, we were particularly pleased to see the Butt Book nominated - it's a compendium of Butt Magazine (that link is not at all safe if you're at work), designed by Jop van Bennekom, and we've noticed it being the 'inspiration' for rather a lot of work recently.
Winners in each section, and one overall winner, will be announced in March.
* The fact that Peter Saville's "THIS IS NOT A BROTHEL THERE ARE NO PROSTITUTES AT THIS ADDRESS" sticker is one of the graphics entries feels deeply ironic.