This year's Red Dot Design Award attracted thousands of entries from around the world. Selina Denman combed through the winners to bring you our favourite 10
In terms of scope and credibility there are few, if any, design competitions that can claim to rival the Red Dot Award. Since its foundation in 1955, the inconspicuous-looking red dot has evolved into a globally recognised seal of quality and innovation.
The programme is run by Germany's Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, and every year unearths some of the most interesting and forward-thinking creations across 18 product groups. These include living rooms, bedrooms, tableware, lighting, gardens, bathrooms, spas, fashion, accessories, life science, medicine, transportation and technology.
This year's winners were officially announced on July 4, during a prestigious gala reception that gathered 1,200 of the design world's most high-profile movers and shakers.
The 2011 edition of the competition welcomed 4,433 entries from 60 countries. A jury of 36 experts whittled this down to 795 Red Dot product award winners. Sixty of these subsequently won "Best of the Best" awards, while an additional 162 products were given special mentions.
"Good design cannot be overestimated for business success," said Peter Zec, the initiator and president of the competition. "It is the obvious and appealing design of a product that creates a direct, intuitive connection with the consumer. But design can do much more: it links the user to the product and the brand alike; it creates confidence in quality performances and, in the best of cases, it demonstrates the responsibility of the manufacturer towards his clients, the environment, and all those involved in the production process."
Here is H&H's pick of this year's winners.
1. Chopula cooking spatula
"Dreamfarm products are different. They may look odd, but they work brilliantly. That's because at Dreamfarm we don't sit around designing new shapes for old ideas," says the company's website. And it's true. The company is committed to creating products that solve real problems, which is probably why the Chopula cooking spatula was so popular with the Red Dot jury. The Chopula is highly versatile, with an angular blade for enhanced flexibility. It was designed in response to the fact that spatulas have to lift and turn food - but also cut things up.
2. Sweet Spa
Starpool's Sweet Spa, designed to bring a professional spa experience into the home, offers an invigorating shower, wellness circuits and a steam bath, all within an area of three metres squared. The miniature wellness centre combines high-end design and carefully considered functionality with atmospheric RGB-LED lighting and high-end materials such as glass for the wall cladding and Korakril for the bench. The Red Dot judges lauded the Sweet Spa for taking "the steam bath out of the cellar and turn[ing] it into a luxurious oasis for the bedroom".
3. Bloom table lamp
MGX by Materialise uses 3D technologies to create highly unusual products. We love the Bloom table lamp, which collapses and expands to release or contain light. Inspired in both form and function by a flower's calyx, the shade is 3D printed as a single piece, and includes hinges that transform the shade from a bud to a blossom in one smooth movement. The lamp was designed by Patrick Jouin and is currently on show at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.
4.Oxo Tot Sprout chair
In an increasingly consumeristic world, it's a joy to come across products that were actually designed to last. The Oxo Tot Sprout is an extended use chair that grows with a child and adapts to their various developmental stages - from when they are six months to five years of age.
The seat's height and depth are adjustable, as is the height of the footrest. Meanwhile, a depth-adjustable tray can be removed so the chair can be pulled right up to the table at meal times. The seat, back and cushions are contoured for comfort and encourage the user to sit up straight, with a five-point harness that secures the child firmly in place. The chair is easily wipeable and comes in orange and birch, taupe and birch, and green and walnut colour combinations.
5. Hohrizontal 51 wall shelf with iPod sound system
The Hohrizontal 51 is a stylish wall shelf fitted with an integrated sound system, essentially transforming an ubiquitous piece of technology into a useful interior design feature. Mounted to the wall and offering advanced sound quality and a powerful bass, the Hohrizontal 51 features a digital sound processor, digital amplification and an all-purpose switch-mode power supply. Providing full multimedia compatibility, the wall shelf can also connect to televisions, computers, smartphones, mobile phones and MP3 players. It comes in high-gloss paint or a classic walnut veneer to comfortably blend into any interior.
6. Ploum sofa
Unsurprisingly for a product designed by the Bouroullec brothers, the Ploum sofa cries out to be touched. The sofa was created for the French furniture manufacturer Ligne Roset and is all-enveloping. Broad, generous dimensions and soft forms adapt to the contours of the user's body, while a combination of materials create a highly sensuous seating solution. Soft foam is innovatively covered by a stretch fabric, allowing users to recline comfortably in any number of positions. "We tried to create a very comfortable settee of contemporary design," the design duo said. "We conceived this sofa as a ripe and delicious fruit."
7. Versatile Arc wall tile
The Turkish designer Yigit Ozer's Versatile Wall Tiles Collection leaves plenty of room for self-expression. His Arc tiles are shaped like an open V, allowing for an endless range of creative opportunities. According to the Red Dot judging panel: "The Versatile collection takes traditional tile design into a new, third dimension. The tile is no longer just a flat surface which covers or protects a wall, but is a spatial form in itself which gives room [to] a new perspective." The tiles are produced by the Turkish manufacturer Kutahya Seramik.
8. Hopper Outdoor Furniture
The Red Dot jury was won over by this successful redesign of the classic beer garden bench. The Hopper was inspired by the traditional hop garden, where plants are positioned at varying angles to make the most of the light and to make harvesting easier.
The designer Dirk Wynants started with the idea of a long picnic table but made it more accessible by adding four access points and bevelling the tabletop edge. "This sculptural piece of garden furniture invites one to sit down and is functional and hard-wearing in equal measure," said the Red Dot judges.
9. Grohe Digital
The German bathroom company Grohe celebrated a double whammy at this year's awards. Its 17-strong design team was named Red Dot: Design Team of the Year, joining past winners such as Bose, BMW, Adidas, Apple, Audi, Sony and Philips.
The company also received a Best of the Best award for its Grohe Digital collection, a wireless digital controller for bathroom taps, kitchen taps and showers. The controller can be placed anywhere; there's a button to start and stop water flow, and two others to increase or decrease temperature. A dial around the outside adjusts the flow rate, while an LED-illuminated ring gives instant visual feedback regarding temperature.
The product was designed to make digital technology easy to use and accessible, creating a futuristic bathing experience that reduces the consumption of natural resources.
10. Table B
Table B was created by the designer Konstantin Grcic for the Spanish company BD Barcelona Design. The table's design language is reminiscent of the intricate detailing of aircraft wings. A tabletop made of extruded aluminium with scotch anodised polish can be paired with three very different leg designs in steel, wood or concrete.
"Grcic has been inspired by the classic shelf unit by Lluís Clotet and Oscar Tusquets from 1979, and has created a tabletop of extruded aluminium with a profile that lends the Table B its distinctive shape, a shape that embodies a combination of complex technical processing and design innovation," said the Red Dot jury.
For more information on this year's Red Dot winners, visit http://en.red-dot.org