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Brit Insurance Design Awards 2009 - Category Winners Announced
Singgih S. Kartono, Magno Wooden Radio.

LONDON.- The winning entries in each category of the Brit Insurance Design Awards 2009, awarded to the most progressive and forward thinking designs from the past 12 months, are: New Oslo Opera House for Architecture, Vogue Italia: A Black Issue for Fashion, MYTO chair for the Furniture category, and the Graphics category is awarded to the Barack Obama Poster. Interactive goes to Make Magazine, Magno Wooden Radio wins Product and the Transport winner is Colombia’s Line-J Medellin Metro Cable.

Brit Insurance Designs of the Year exhibition run until 14 June 09 and the awards ceremony takes place on 18 March at the Design Museum ,

The winning entries represent a snapshot of contemporary design and demonstrate the role that design plays at a global level. Ranging from Shepard Fairey’s iconic Obama poster, to the economically sustainable Magno Wooden Radio and the multi-functional landmark of the New Oslo Opera House, the international winners are spread across Indonesia, Colombia, USA, Norway and Italy.

The seven winning designs will now contend for the prestigious accolade of Brit Insurance Design of the Year 2009, to be revealed at an awards dinner hosted by Channel 4 design presenter Naomi Cleaver, at the Design Museum on 18 March.

The panel of judges, chaired by Alan Yentob, had a difficult undertaking in selecting just one winner in each category from such a diverse collection of entries. Yentob was joined by MoMA’s senior design and architecture curator Paola Antonelli, designer, environmentalist and educator Karen Blincoe, architect Peter Cook, fashion author, stylist and critic Sarah Mower and last year’s winner, designer Yves Béhar. The panel commented, “We were captivated by the stories behind the winning projects and how they demonstrate the strength of design as a tool for cultural, political and social change.”

The winning designs, along with the rest of the shortlist, are currently on show at the Design Museum until 14 June.

Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum said: “The judges had an exceptionally challenging role in selecting seven category winners from such a comprehensive shortlist. This year’s winners are a true reflection of the exceptional calibre of design that has been conceived internationally in the past 12 months.”

The Category Winners and Judge’s Quotes


New Oslo Opera House, Norway
Client: Ministry of Church and Cultural Affairs

The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, in Oslo is located on the Bjørvika Peninsula overlooking the Oslofjord. The design by Snøhetta won the international competition in 2000 with the plans to provide Norway with a landmark building, offering a stage to showcase Norwegian culture. Also at the centre of urban redevelopment, it now provides a new dynamic public space, attractive for visitors as well as an area for locals to enjoy. The building features dramatic angles that literally dive into the fjord, allowing the visitor to take in the entire structure from ground level as well as appreciating the views as they ascend to the top of the building. The structure also combines a series of architectural features created in collaboration with a number of artists.

The judges commented, “This is more than a beautifully designed building and an opera house; it’s a living part of the city, a place for music, but also an outdoor space, somewhere all kinds of people like to go. Its mix of indoor and outdoor spaces attracts not just opera enthusiasts. It's a building that gives people the chance to roam through, across and on top of it, all the way from sea to roof level.”


Italian Vogue: A Black Issue, July 2008
Vogue Italia, published by Condé Nast

In July 2008, Italian Vogue dedicated an entire issue to black models focussing on successful, black women. The editor, Franca Sozzani entitled the magazine: A Black Issue, featuring some of the leading black models within the fashion industry and editorial celebrating influential women in the arts and entertainment industries. It coincided with the US presidential campaign and was at a time when American protest groups demonstrated about the lack of black models in the fashion industry. This inspired Italian Vogue to elevate the debate and make it more public. The feedback was overwhelming, mainly positive, where newsstands from Milan to New York were inundated, with an increase in sales by 40%. Despite some critics’ view that A Black Issue was nothing else but a cynical sales campaign by Vogue Italia, sold and distributed in a country still challenged by racism, most felt it was a tribute to black people achieving equal goals to their non-black counterparts.

The judges commented, “Deemed a cultural watershed, A Black Issue firmly placed the debate about the lack of black models in the fashion industry to the very forefront of the fashion world's consciousness as well as causing wide spread debate outside fashion circles. Steven Meisel and Franca Sozzani created an issue that truly captivated an audience much wider than the regular fashion reader's mind, where young black women finally felt that they could relate and aspire to the content through the people portrayed. The issue has undoubtedly raised questions amongst consumers and critics as to how casting agencies and other fashion promoters include non-white models in their portfolios and magazines, as it's now proven that 'black' does sell.”


MYTO Chair, Italy
Designed by Konstantin Grcic
Commissioned by BASF, Manufactured by Plank

The team at Konstantin Grcic’s studio collaborated with the Italian furniture producer Plank and chemical company BASF to create the MYTO Chair. Reinterpreting the typology of the cantilever chair, it was designed primarily as a manufactured chair that utilises BASF’s engineered plastics. The design development took place within the space of one year, during which Grcic experimented with the creative potential of the material Ultradur® High Speed (PBT – polybutylene terephthalate) and as a result found that the materials properties shaped the final form. Its extraordinary consistency, strength, viscosity and thermoforming abilities meant that the fluid plastic could be injected into a monoblock. The supporting frame would harden and conform to the perforated seat and back, dissolving seamlessly into the net-like perforations of the structure, presenting an elegant transition from thick to thin cross-sections.

The judges commented, “It is tough creating a design classic, but the MYTO might just have achieved this through its rigorous experimentation and research, resulting in the technically very difficult outcome of a cantilevered plastic chair. It is a successful balance, a sense of functional purpose and elegance, the result of a partnership between designer, manufacturer and BASF's engineers.”


Barack Obama Poster, USA
Designed by Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey is a street artist renowned for his prolific fly posting of propaganda style artwork and Andre The Giant Icon images and to date has attracted a large international following. As an industry leader, Fairey was commissioned by the initiative ‘Artists for Obama’ and the ‘Inaugural Committee’ to create limited edition work for sale in order to raise money and awareness for Obama’s 2008 Presidential Campaign. Based on the image taken by the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer David Turnley, the initial Obama posters created by Fairey were the PROGRESS and HOPE images. Then, working on his own initiative, Fairey used both these images as part of an unofficial viral poster campaign to help bring awareness to Obama’s Presidential Campaign. The artwork was then iterated to create more posters with the words CHANGE and VOTE to further spread the candidates’ message and meet the incredible demand for the artwork. The posters demonstrate the cultural momentum surrounding Obama and his campaign.

The judges commented, “If there ever were to be a ‘The Poster of the Year’, the Obama Poster would be it. The US election was a watershed in contemporary history and this poster demonstrates the power of communicating ideas and aspirations from grass-root level. Just as the presidential candidate's campaign speeches recaptured the lost art of oratory, so this poster breathed new life into a form that had lost its purpose. Fairey's poster came not from a marketing campaign, but as a self initiated fund raising campaign. The poster did its job by becoming a collector's item. More than that it’s encapsulated the mood of its time.”


Make Magazine, USA
Published by O’Reilly

The first magazine devoted entirely to DIY technology projects, MAKE Magazine unites, inspires and informs a growing community of resourceful people who undertake amazing projects in their backyards, basements, and garages.

The judges commented, “Make Magazine is a website and blog that has created a remarkable resource through which to explore the process of making. It is much more sophisticated than your everyday DIY website; Make Magazine presents you with unusual blueprints in which the users own input and customisation are both of practical and social value.”


Magno Wooden Radio, Indonesia
Concept and design by Singgih S Kartono
Manufactured by locals in Java

The Magno wooden radio is a small and simple radio, encased in a shell of wood is an example of Indonesian entrepreneurship and design employing local manufacturing resources. Singgih Susilo Kartono is the creative brains behind this idea, designing the radio to help revive the economic conditions and employment prospects of Kandangan. His intention through this project was to try and change the villagers dependency on cities and create a community that was more reliant on local services. As a result the villagers adopt a new set of craft skills, including carpentry that can be passed on. They also use locally sourced sustainable materials helping to sustain economic conditions within the area.


Line-J Medellin Metro Cable, Colombia
Designed and Manufactured by Poma, France
Client: Metro de Medellin Ltda.

Medellin City in Colombia is setting an example of how the traditional cable car mainly used in skiing resorts is also a means of transportation in an urban environment. With the introduction of the J-line Metro Cable to the Medellin Metro network, people living in the hillsides can gain access to the city in a convenient manner; it’s a service that enables the poorer suburban communities to travel in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner. The French supplier of the cable cars, Pomo, have designed the cable cars for the J-Line to compliment its use as well as its landscape to such an acclaim that the United Nations is reviewing the concept to be implemented as part of a wider sustainable transportation scheme.

The judges commented, “This is a great example of how to re-appropriate an already successful cable car envisaged for ski slopes, into a mass transit system for the urban poor. Medellin's favellas spread over hill sides too steep to be built on by the middle classes. They were isolated, in sight of the city centre, but with no easy means of reaching it. The cable car metro line changes all that, and provides an intriguing new form of public transport.” The judges commented, “The beautiful Wooden Radio shows clear respect for the material it uses and sensibility to details. More than that, the radio reflects a sense of purpose in the wider design context. The designer has brought together local crafts people, teaching them new skills in making and assembling the radio and by using local wood, has brought a positive and sustainable infrastructure to a small community.”

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