Design Museum: Designs of the Year Awards 2013

Roll out the red carpet...The Designs of the Year Awards 2013 are here. Heralded as the ‘Oscars of the Design World’ the Design Museum once again plays host to the Designs of the Year Awards. The world’s most exciting and inspiring design projects of the past 12 months have been whittled down and we're here to report who’s who and a what’s what in the nominations for the Furniture category. From the outstandingly elegant to the quite outlandish, all display amazing feats of innovation and are sure to thrill the design fanatics amongst you.

100 Chairs

Fashion label Marni took a diversion off the runway when it brought precisely 100 Chairs to the Milan Furniture Fair. The vivid Columbian colours of the woven PVC lends an exotic, summery vibe to these seats, and with such a limited number made, they sure are hot property.


A place for everything and everything in its place. Corniches, a project by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra, creates spontaneous storage in the form of small glossy wall projections that provide adaptable places to put objects. With no visible fixtures, these little illusions are ever so neat. If we had a hat we’d hang it here.

Engineering Temporality

There’s something eerie about the chairs and cabinets of Studio Markunpoika’s Engineering Temporality project. Certainly thought provoking, the burnt away steel structures seem to be a shadow of what once was, conveying ideas of vanishing memories, inspired by the designer’s grandmother. It’s the most poignant of the projects nominated.

Future Primitives

‘Minimal in form and detailing but maximal in its usability’ – that was what Muller Van Severen set out to achieve with its composition of shelving, seating and lamps. With a nod to modernism, this project is a lesson in geometry and primary colours; it has stripped furniture back to its bare bones and revealed design at its very best.

Gravity Stool

A chair formed by gravity and magnets out of polarised metal sounds farfetched, but that is what Jolan Van Der Wiel has achieved with its Gravity Stool. We need not understand the science to appreciate these incredible, other-worldly forms.

Liquid Glacial Table

[caption id="attachment_35450" align="alignnone" width="600"] Photograph by Jacopo Spilimbergo[/caption]

Hotfooting it from the architecture category, could we see Hadid do the double with this melting marvel? Coined the Liquid Glacial Table, the ice-age installation blurs the line between furniture and art. Zaha Hadid’s signature fluid forms make for awe-inspiring architecture, and this table, on a smaller scale, echoes the magic and power of her buildings.

Medici Chair

Taking its cues from the wood itself and carpentry methods, the Medici Chair is designed by Konstantin Grcic for Mattiazzi. Its unusual jaunty shape is set at an angle perfect for reclining and it is made in an array of natural hues as well as must-have mustard. Who knew kicking back and relaxing could look this stylish?

Re-Imagined Chairs

We’ve all had moments when we crave a furniture overhaul – out with the old and in with the new. But no, London-based Studiomama (Nina Tolstrup and Jack Mama) challenges our throwaway attitudes with its Re-imagined Chairs. With their psychedelic upholstery and quirky mismatched shapes, these chairs are attention grabbing in aesthetics and ethics.


We simply can’t get enough of Scandi design, and with its oak and beech A-Collection, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec just about sums it up. There’s no ornamentation or unnecessary flamboyance here, just tables and stackable chairs based on a university trestle chair. The result: a simplicity that’s naturally beautiful and totally liveable.

The Tié Chair

The Tié Chair is made solely from rice paper sheets. Designer Pinwu uses the ancient technique for crafting Chinese umbrellas to construct a chair reminiscent in shape to the classic horseshoe-back chair. The curvaceous, frameless, white shell with ruffled paper edging – a tell-tale sign of the unusual material used – is modern and minimalist. Tradition made contemporary, the Tié Paper Chair has innovation written all over it.

The Sea Chair

Studio Swine & Kieren Jones has taken the concept of salvage to new levels with its Sea Chair project, promoting a DIY approach to casting furniture from small remnants of plastic waste washed up by the tide. The result is a stool with an unassuming beauty. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as they say.

Well Proven Chair

More and more we are seeing how environmental challenges give rise to great design. The Well Proven Chair, designed by James Shaw and Marjan van, uses the bizarre foaming reaction between bio-resin and the abundant waste material wood chip. The contrast in textures – the smooth seat, the weirdly morphed underside and the turned ash legs, is what makes this chair stand out from the crowd.


Want to see it all in the flesh? The Designs of the Year exhibition is showing at the Design Museum, London from 20th March to 7th July 2013. For more details and to find out who's been nominated in the Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Graphics, Product and Transport categories go to the Design Museum website.

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Emily Peck, Editor

View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor