The world’s first gender-neutral synthetic voice, New York’s new cultural center The Shed, and Uber’s colorful Jump electric city bicycles are among the nominees for the 2019 Beazley Designs of the Year, an established annual award and exhibition run by London’s Design Museum.
Also shortlisted for the award, now in its twelfth year, were Tommy Hilfiger’s Adaptive clothing range – for children and adults with different disabilities and designed with velcro, magnets and easy-open necklines – and Adidas’ Korean-inspired Cozy Collection, worn by Beyoncé. In total, 76 nominees have been shortlisted this year.
An innovative hands-free breast pump that can be worn inside a nursing bra, a flushable and biodegradable pregnancy test made without plastic, and a low-cost, pocket-size HIV test that can be self-administered at home have also received a nod.
The award is tied to an exhibition at London’s Design Museum, showcasing the nominees, and although the selections are not based on any single underlying concept, there are themes emerging across the various disciplines.
“There are a lot of designs that deal with gender bias, or addressing gender inequality,” said curator Beatrice Galilee in a phone interview. “Others are looking into sustainability and drawing attention to issues related to the climate crisis or people who are trying to put forward manifestos on how we should be living, and how we should be using materials around us.”
The exhibition itself ties into that idea, by reusing materials from the previous show that occupied the same space, curated by British architect David Adjaye on the theme of memory and architecture. “We are reusing the walls of the previous exhibition, and everything that we cut out was also reused, so the whole exhibition is analysis of contemporary exhibition making: We’re kind of using exhibition design as an exhibition in itself,” said Galilee.
Rather than in thematic sections, the nominees are arranged into rooms based on the six award categories: products, transport, graphics, fashion, digital and architecture. “Plus, each of the rooms has this own typeface, which in itself is a kind of typeface exhibition,” said Galilee.
A new addition to this year’s show is a film that was commissioned specifically for the architecture section. “Sometimes it’s hard for architecture exhibitions to convey their message because they necessarily end up with models or drawings. So we commissioned a film (about the nominees) to show sounds and textures and how these buildings are being used, and how these spaces are being occupied.”
The overall winner will be announced on 21 November, along with winners for each category.
Last year, “Counter Investigations: Forensic Architecture,” an exhibition at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts took home the main prize. In 2017, architect David Adjaye emerged as the winner for his National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, out of a politically charged shortlist. In 2016, the award went to an emergency refugee shelter designed by Ikea.
Browse the gallery above to see curator Beatrice Galilee’s exclusive picks for CNN Style from the 76 nominees.