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 .