Every year since 2000, the USA’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum has run the National Design Awards scheme, which honours lasting achievement in American design, and celebrates it as a vital and humanistic tool in shaping the world.
As well as the awards event itself, the museum has structured the award program so that it continues to support design with a series of educational activities during National Design Week, an initiative launched in 2006 that also offers free admission to the museum, public programs based on the work of the awards winners and the promotion of design events held across the country in October.
This year the winner in the product design category was NewDealDesign, a multi-disciplinary Bay Area firm led by technology product designer Gadi Amit. The products designed and developed at his studio appear to be unified along a common theme – to make modern life more wholesome, greener and more rewarding for the community, as well as the individual user.
Among them is the Fitbit Wireless Tracker, a tiny device that builds on 2008’s original, category-creating Fitbit Tracker. Described as a ‘digital jewel’ this version comes without wires, but still effectively tracks the user through their everyday exertions to keep health and fitness top of mind.
The Akida Airocide Air Purifier is a sleekly-housed appliance that could be mistaken for a particularly cutting-edge iPod speaker, but in fact eliminates 99.9% of harmful particles from the air using NASA’s nano-bioconversion technology, and turns them into harmless water vapour. There’s also the LYTRO light-field camera, which, in a particularly user-friendly and intuitive fashion, allows the user to refocus an image after it has been taken.
On a city scale, the minimal BetterPlace Charge Spot was designed as an unobtrusive piece of street furniture, yet supports the deployment of a large-scale, public, electric-vehicle (EV) charging system.
Another public project by NewDealDesign supported the National Fitness Campaign by creating a community bodyweight exercise system that caters to people of all ages and abilities, with innovative multifunctional equipment.
The first ‘Fitness Court’ is already in place at San Francisco’s Marina Green. “Its success is already evident,” states the company. “It’s teeming with locals, fitness groups and interested passers-by at all hours of the day.”