There were eighty-one winners this year. And the eighteen-strong jury noted some interesting trends. “There is markedly greater consideration given to how a design’s function, materials and fabrication impact the environment as a whole,” said Hillary Blumberg, IDSA, vice president and design director of home furnishings at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

“The Tesla car is just the beginning of an entirely new way of rethinking existing product types,” Blumberg said, referring not just to the canonical dimensions of form and function, but also to a third, green dimension.

The Tesla Roadster was co-developed by the Lotus Design Studio in the UK, Tesla Motors Inc and Bill Moggridge in the US. It is a high-performance, electric-powered sports car designed to radically alter public perception of what an electric vehicle should look like and how it can perform.

It produces zero emissions, can travel twenty-five miles (40 km) on one charge and can accelerate from zero to 60 mph (97 km) in four seconds.

The Tesla styling was influenced by performance and accessible aesthetics that would help put consumers at ease with the technology.

“A high-octane experience with a high-voltage rush: the Tesla Roadster represents the best mix of innovation, environmental care and style. Definitely the kind of product new consumers are willing to try,” said judge Franco Lodato, IDSA, managing director at Pininfarina Extra USA.

The jury also noted seeing more attention to the principles of universal design, with products like the OXO Good Grips Hardware Hand Tools Line, the MagicWheelsTM two-gear wheelchair drive and the Universal Toilet.

“This made for a great jury session and an intensive discussion about the state of design,” said the jury chair Ruth Soénius, IDSA, director of user experience at Siemens Corporate Research, Inc. “Long gone are the days when design was judged exclusively on appearance.”

MagicWheels, developed by Magic Wheels Inc and Carlson Studios, can be fitted to seventy-five per cent of wheelchairs.

Wheelchair users often suffer from arm and shoulder injuries, and MagicWheels reduces the effort required to move a wheelchair by fifty per cent. Black-coloured components against the carbon-fibre dish wheel convey a sleek and non-institutional look.

The Universal Toilet was designed by students Changduk Kim and Youngki Hong from Daejin University in South Korea. 

Disabled users don’t have to turn and twist to get onto a toilet – they can just slide into position. There is a chest board to lean on for added stability.

Handles on the board also assist with standing or transfer to a wheelchair. The toilet is a quarter of the size of normal handicapped toilets.

“The designers of the Universal Toilet understand the value of flexibility, offering a solution that users can adapt to suit their abilities and preferences. Freedom of choice wins again!” said Gavin Lester, judge and senior VP and general manager, International Footwear at PUMA.

Judges commented on the high calibre of student entries. A student from the University of Cincinnati, J Ryan Eder, won best in show with the Access – an advanced exercise machine concept for users with or without a disability.

More than 240 student designs were entered this year and ten were award winners. “We can look forward to an influx of well-trained ‘fresh brains’,” said jury member Sigi Moeslinger, IDSA, a partner and co-founder of Antenna Design New York Inc. “This will stimulate the profession.”

Several past and current IDEA winners also received a Design and Business Catalyst Award. These awards are for organisations that incorporate design excellence into their business, while also addressing socioeconomic and ecological impacts.

“Design has been revolutionised and taken to new levels that go beyond creating forms and shapes of objects into influencing and designing processes from corporate strategy, planning, innovation, marketing and product design,” said juror Annette Schömmel, a partner at arthesia AG. 

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