Each year, the Industrial Designers Society of America sponsors one of the largest design competitions in the world, IDEA. For designers—and in particular American designers—it's a major feather in the cap (Europeans tend to focus on the Red Dot Awards).
This year, the contest drew 1631 entries from dozens of countries around the world; in all, 31 were awarded the Gold award, 47 received Silver, and 72 won Bronze. As always, they were judged by a high-caliber jury—which this time was led by Andrew Hartman, the design director at Philips Design, and included Ken Musgrave, Dell's design director, who's been blogging for Fast Company.
So who took home the most awards? Samsung led among corporate teams, with eight (for example: BD-P4600 Blu-Ray Disc Player and LED 7000 Series, the world's thinnest LED); IDEO took eight as well, leading the design firms. Apple was well-represented too, of course, with seven (including awards for the MacBook and 15-inch MacBook Pro).
Sustainability loomed large: Some of these entries included the charging station for Shai Agassi's electric-car program, Better Place; the Dell Studio Hybrid; Energy Seed, a student concept for a street lamp/battery recycling bin, where the former would run off the last bits of power left in old batteries; and the Coca-Cola Refresh Recycling Bin, designed by Yves Behar's Fuseproject, which is a recycling bin made of a single sheet of recycled plastic.
There were also a slew of socially aware designs, such as the Kitten Scanner, a cuddly looking CT scanner meant to comfort children undergoing the stressful procedure; and the Project Masiluleke Home HIV Test Kit.
But the the grand prize went to Nike's Trash Talk, a basketball shoe made entirely from manufacturing waste, including leftover leather, foam and rubber. The big achievement, according to Nike, was achieving performance equal to that of virgin materials:
Another one that wowed the jury was the WEDZE Virtuous, a ski jacket with a removable vest. By inflating it with your own breath, you can reconfigure it from a cool-weather jacket to a cold-weather coat:
We've written before about the possibility of modular furniture that you can reconfigure rather than discard as your needs change. Herman Miller's Teneo® Storage Furniture, does just that: Using a system of just 20 parts, you can create 80 different products:
Still hungry for more industrial design? Seriously? BusinessWeek has all of the winning entries online.