The forum was followed by an award ceremony celebrating the work of product designers embracing the need to improve the lives of people – in their everyday lives – all over the world.

For the first time in the history of the BraunPrize the competition was open not only to students but also to design professionals and design enthusiasts. The move, initiated by Professor Oliver Grabes, head of Braun Design and chairman of the BraunPrize jury, opened up the competition to many more idea-driven people around the world, making the prize more relevant and visible globally, and open to people who may not have formal design qualifications. Design professionals had the opportunity to submit self-initiated concept projects, and design enthusiasts without formal design qualifications were invited to submit their inventions and ideas.

“The Braun brand is about products that we use every day – finding product solutions that we can connect to,” said Grabes, in his opening address at the BraunPrize Forum. “The BraunPrize has historically had a more academic focus. We wanted to open the competition up to make it more relevant to more people. Professional designers often have great ideas that are never publicised – opening up the BraunPrize gives them this opportunity,” explained Grabes.

A new group of National BraunPrize winners were also announced, celebrating design talent in individual countries and world regions. In another new category, Sustainability Awards supported work with a strong focus on sustainable solutions for everyday life. “It is important that the BraunPrize stays relevant to people and cultures at a national level,” said Grabes, commenting on these new award categories. “Sustainability is an important aspect of product design today, so we dedicated an award to it, to devote more attention to it. We saw very strong work in this category, so instead of two winners, we chose three.”

Over 400 guests gathered to celebrate the 2012 BraunPrize awards, including an exclusive group of 80 guest jurors and guest of honour Dieter Rams, representing experts in design from all over the world. From a record 2399 submissions, from 73 nations, 1850 students and 549 professionals and design enthusiasts, the internationally renowned five-member BraunPrize jury had selected just six finalists in June this year: three for the global student prize and three for the global design professional and design enthusiast prize.

The six finalists presented their projects to the jurors in a live, face-to-face forum, the unique and challenging final round of the BraunPrize. The respected BraunPrize jury members – Professor Naoto Fukasawa, Jane Fulton Suri, Professor Anne Bergner, Dr Dirk Freund and Professor Oliver Grabes – attended the forum to see each of the finalists’ design projects. The long-awaited 2012 BraunPrize final judging results revealed winning concepts that fit perfectly with the program’s challenge to entrants to design: ‘Genius designs for a better everyday’.

The final BraunPrize Forum vote was the decider and the global winner in the student category was Agil – Flexible Walking Aid by Sebastian Reichel, Germany. Agil is an adaptive walking aid that features responsive and flexible polymer support structures. It is designed to support people who need to walk with the aid of a walking stick. Walking remains a dynamic and natural activity, as Agil adjusts and flexes with the movements of a person. Agil allows a more even distribution of body weight, and encourages correct posture in a flexible way. The jurors overall opinion was that the Agil was well thought through, from how it responds to contact with the ground and a dynamic, almost life-like response to human motion, to its ergonomic form that supports the hand and elbow, using flexible material to provide more spring.

The two competing finalists were: Mo – A Flexible Mobility System for the City of Tomorrow by Dirk Hessenbruch, Germany; and First Aid Cover – Help in Emergencies by Jussi Koskimäki, Japan. The global winner in the professional and enthusiast category was Känguru – a Mobility Concept for the Urban Context with Infant by Oliver Klein, a professional designer also from Germany. Känguru is a baby carrier and bicycle seat in one – a bi-functional solution offering an ergonomic and safe way to travel with a small child on foot and on a bicycle. The framework is central to the design. It was developed to cater to the ergonomic requirements of men and women and to fit seamlessly to a bicycle. A child can be continuously carried in the Känguru, making the transfer to a bicycle an easy transition, while keeping the child calm or asleep.

The two competing finalists were: Rovey – Desktop Fan by Kazuya Washio and Yu Kawashima, both professional designers from Japan; and Swyp – See What You Print, a radically simple printer concept, by professional designers Fernd van Engelen, Jonas Buck and Tucker Spofford of Artefact in the US.

Thirty National winners were also announced, representing all regions of the world in a new National award category for the BraunPrize recognising the importance and relevance of design relating to specific world regions and cultures. There were 15 student and 15 professional/enthusiast winners.

The three winners in the global Sustainability Award category, a new initiative for the BraunPrize program, were: Nucleario – Geo Engeneering Concept, a plant protection device that protects rainforest seedlings planted in forest regeneration programs, by student Bruno Pagnoncelli, Brazil; Ento – The Art of Eating Insects, promoting insects as a healthy and sustainable source of protein, offering a solution to accelerating global food demand, by Royal College of Art, London, students Julene Aguirre, Jacky Chung, Jonathan Fraser and Aran Dasan; and Revolver – Personal Wind Turbine, for charging personal electronics when they are off the grid. Transported in a tube, Revolver is set up by compression, revealing four blades and a tripod base, by Paul Bradley, David Gustafson, Jonas Damon, Jinseok Hwang, Ryan Wickre and Brian Wasson of international design group, frog design.

Fifty concepts from the complete line-up of out-standing projects were chosen to be a part of the 2012 BraunPrize exhibition. The introduction of awards for design professionals and design enthusiasts resulted in a doubling of the BraunPrize categories. The prize money was doubled to match this increase. A total of US$100 000 in prize money was awarded.

“We want to continue to make the BraunPrize relevant to a wider global audience,” said Grabes. “This year the judges reviewed over 10 kilometres of work on submitted documents for the awards!” he added.

The next BraunPrize will be celebrated in three years time, in 2015. It will be interesting to see if the number of entries hits a record again. The number of entries for the 2012 competition was more than double that of 2009. Regardless of the numbers, the ground-breaking ideas and concepts that the BraunPrize rewards is something to celebrate.

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