The US based competition celebrates the best product designs of the year and, in its first year of opening to all international entries, thirty-three designs from fourteen countries received awards.

Australian designs were among those awarded. A strong trend toward multi-functional products emerged as many breakthrough products were recognised with Gold honours.

“This was a landmark year because, for the first time, all international entries were welcome, regardless of the nationality of the designers or where the product was distributed,” said jury chair Ravi Sawhney, Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), president and chief executive of RKS Design, California.

“The jurors were challenged to weigh and award design contributions that varied from profoundly universal, sustainable, and potentially life benefiting design solutions to ultra-simple, elegant and beautifully resonant forms.”

Countries awarded were Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. International entries from twenty-five countries totalled 345, up from 172 in 2003.

A key trend was the move toward environmentally friendly products. Juror Debera Johnson, IDSA, chair of the industrial design department at the Pratt Institute said, “Attention to socially responsible and sustainable design has gone through the roof – not just in student designs and concepts, but in products on the market.

"It was significant to see the unprecedented number of entries utilising materials and manufacturing processes that involve minimal damage to our environment. The jury’s interest in the ethics of design was clearly voiced throughout the process.”

“A new market has emerged in home office products, which must be well-designed to take up less space, be intuitive and simple to operate, deliver value at any price point, and solve customer needs,” according to juror Don Brown, IDSA, design strategist, Xerox Corporation. “It’s challenging designers to be really innovative.”

Samsung and Apple Computer were the top winners from the corporate world with five and four awards, respectively. Black & Decker and Philips also excelled this year with three awards each; since 2000, both companies have logged eight wins.

Judging criteria for each entry fulfilled five areas of industrial design excellence: design innovation, benefit to the user, benefit to the client/business, ecological responsibility, and appropriate aesthetics and appeal. Some of the gold winners were:

• an underarm thermometer for Vicks

• a Chevy pickup truck open-air roadster

• a mobile electrotherapy range for Chattanooga by Design and Industry (Australia)

• a Logitech PDA cover that doubles as a QWERTY keyboard

• a helical climbing frame for children

• a human-powered irrigation pump

• a BYO bag

• a smaller reinvention of the iPOD

• a concept for high performance golf tees  

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