The London Design Museum's 2009 Design Awards

This Friday, the London Design Museum opens an exhibition dedicated to the winners of its 2009 Designs of the Year—one of the most prestigious, most comprehensive in the world, encompassing everything from fashion to cars. If you can't make it, here are some of the highlights. (You can see all the awards here.)

The fruit of a collaboration between a furniture designer and a F1 car designer, the Surface Table was a shoe-in for the design awards—having been one of the most admired pieces of furniture created in recent memory. Made from carbon fibre, it's almost 9 feet long and just 2mm (.07 inches) thick—seen in profile, it nearly disappears. You can actually see it in person at the Established & Sons showroom in New York; video of one of the designers is here.

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The Stitch Chair by Cappellini has an ingenious fold-up mechanism:

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The SENZ XL solves the problems that bedevil most umbrella designs: Its aerodynamic shape prevents it from ever inverting in a stiff wind; its unusual shape improves outward visibility when you're walking with it; and it provides the same wide coverage of a golf umbrella while being much narrower:

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It's hard to top the clean, woody good-looks of the Magno Radio:

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The Pixel Clock manufactured by Ligne Roset is lit by 300 white LEDs, suspended in a honeycomb, fiberglas matrix:

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The HomeHero fire extinguisher makes beauty into a functional benefit. The designer argues that simply by being good-looking enough to display in plain view, it'll solve a big problem with fire extinguishers: That when you need them, you either forget about them or can't find them:

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A Tram Stop in Spain is funky, fun, and functional. Check out the lights above, and how well they blend with the structural elements:

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Snøhetta, a Noerwegian architecture firm, had a break-out year with a number of remarkable designs. Here, they won for a new opera house in Oslo:

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On another note, the Ecotricity Green Bird was designeed to break the land-speed record for a wind-powered vehicle. Extreme design for an extreme task:

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The Armadillo vest and mask was designed to make the task of mine-clearing easier and more ergonomic, with a far less bulky configuration that doesn't sacrifice coverage or ballistic protection:

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A whimisical education center in Japan nonetheless manages to feel like integral part of the land, thanks to the elegant rust of its iron cladding:

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This bike by IDEO solves two profound problems in places such as Africa: Women are often forced to walk miles to get fresh water, but the water itself is often unsafe to drink. The bike has a storage tank in back; when it's pedaled, the water gets cycled through a filter:

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Finally, here's "Cloud," a mesmerizing installation designed by Troika for Terminal 5 in London's Heathrow Airport:

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