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10 Prize-Winning Products

The ballots are in. Some of the world’s savviest designers voted these products best in show at their annual meeting.

A music video that’s both cool-looking and technically smart. A luminous lamp. A Microsoft product even a Mac user could love. These were among the products awarded the gold prize at the 2001 Industrial Designers Society of America conference held recently in Boston.

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We’ve chosen 10 winners spanning the range of products that the society judged.

Among our favorites:

1. Business and Industrial Products
Motorola NFL Headset
A sleek, wireless headset that’s become the rage of the NFL. Motorola designed this product not only to deliver the technology a coach needs to keep in touch with his players and staff, but to look as cool as if the Super Bowl were in the bag.

2. Computer Equipment Products
IBM TransNote
This product solves the awkward social problem of taking notes at a meeting. Typing on a laptop seems rude; taking notes manually is a pain later. This sleek hybrid between a laptop and a legal pad lets the user scribble away and then digitizes the notes for future reference.

3. Consumer Products
John Deere’s Spin-Steer Technology Lawn Tractor
Lawn jockeys will love this ultimate driving machine. Its skillful engineering melds a zero-turn radius vehicle with a steering wheel and makes it look good to boot.

4. Design Explorations
Amtrak Acela Express
Amtrak’s nifty new speed train is a model of sleek design, with passenger comforts air shuttles can only dream about. Now, if Amtrak would just upgrade its rail system so the thing could work as well as it looks.

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5. Digital Media Interfaces
MF Doom Shockwave.com Music Video
The hip-hop artist MF Doom just wasn’t a computer-animation kind of guy. So Iguana Studios designed his music video in Flash and still managed to compress two minutes of actual video and audio footage into a lean 2 MB file, ensuring that it meets Shockwave.com’s stringent requirements.

6. Environments
Rose Center for Earth and Space
It’s hard to make a 23,000-square-foot exhibit space dealing with the cosmos not seem overwhelming. But this gallery at the American Museum of Natural History arranges its information so that big concepts seem both awe-inspiring and understandable.

7. Furniture
George Kovacs Soft Lighting Collection
This sophisticated collection of lighting fixtures features colored glass in varying shapes inside clear, handblown Murano glass orbs.

8. Packaging and Graphics
Microsoft Office 2001 for Mac
Even Microsoft bashers will have to concede that this software-packaging design is a winner. Using a hip alternative to paperboard, designers crafted this reusable plastic CD-like case from 50% recycled water bottles and CDs.

9. Medical and Scientific Products
East3 Thoughtcaster
Originally developed by NASA for use with pilots, this helmet helps children with attention-deficit problems increase their attention spans without relying on drugs. Sensors in the helmet detect the child’s brain signals and then wirelessly transmit them to a base station, allowing the child to play computer games hands-free using just brain waves.

10. Transportation
2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser
This small car design with its distinctive hot-rod look has garnered the highest ratings for “delight” and “emotional attachment” of any vehicle in the industry. Plus it has cool features like a removable shelf that can be used as a tabletop for tailgate parties.

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More prize-winning products can be seen on the IDSA Web site.

Linda Tischler (ltischler@fastcompany.com) is the Fast Company managing editor of new media.

Read more: Designed for Life

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About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.

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