One of my personal product design heroes, Charles Eames, famously said, ‘Recognising the need is the primary condition for design’.

There’s no shortage of need out there in these uncertain times, so perhaps it’s not surprising that the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition at the Design Museum houses so many gems.

The exhibition demonstrates that ‘design’ isn’t tied to a discipline, or even a physical outcome, but is comprised of a broad range of ideas and concepts. As specialists in design research, we know all too well the breadth of touchpoints ‘design’ can cover, and it was fascinating seeing so many examples of this in one place!

From 20 designs exhibited, narrowed down from 70 nominees, I’ve picked out a few personal favourites:

  • A first aid kit designed for refugees and NGOs that uses pictograms rather than words shows that the language of design is truly universal.

First Aid

  • The gorgeous Adidas x Parley, a running shoe made from the debris of illegal deep sea fishing nets and ocean plastics is recycling at its finest – creating something functional and beautiful from waste. Does anybody know where / when I can get a pair?!

Adidas x Parley

  • And of course one of the most talked about designs of the year, and the ultimate winner of the award: IKEA’s Better Shelter.

Better Shelter

Made in partnership with the IKEA foundation and the UN Refugee agency, it utilises IKEA’s flat-pack expertise to create temporary portable shelter for refugees and displaced people. It can be easily dismantled and transported, and it offers a safer, sturdier alternative to other temporary accommodations, such as tents.

Better Shelter interior

The Design Museum has a history of helping us all see how the sheer diversity of design touches every point of our daily lives. What this exhibition in particular does superbly is to show how design can do much more than just touch people’s lives, but improve our lives for the better.

While the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition is now closed, the Design Museum is always worth a visit – over here at TBP we’re looking forward to the AXA PP Health Tech & You exhibition opening April 25th!