In a world confronted by a seemingly infinite array of issues, we need innovation more than ever. That’s what makes the record 530 designs entered in this year’s 60th anniversary of the Good Design Awards, so exciting. Also exciting, is the Sydney Opera House location for the Good Design Awards ceremony, which will be held on the 17th of May this year. However, the collection of designs aren’t the only innovations in this year’s awards. The introduction of new award categories, catering to diverse groups and interests has opened the doors to a whole host of new people and ideas – with the introduction of an Indigenous Designer award, a Fashion Design award and a Better World award, are just some examples of the new design backgrounds the awards are celebrating this year.
At the Good Design Awards VIP event, which previewed some of the design entries, CEO of the Good Design Awards, Dr. Brandon Gien, said that the design awards are “not just about creating beautiful designs and products but making the world better”. It is this approach which makes the award’s Good Design Tick, one of the most respected international design symbols. Bessi Graham, who is co-founder of Benefit Capital and Donkey Wheel, and judge for the Social Impact design category, also emphasised the awards’ importance for not merely providing a platform for designers, but celebrating design as more than just physical products and aesthetics, but a way of creatively thinking that can play a powerful role in improving our world. Bessi said, “If people see design as having more of a role and an influence, I think we have a better chance of solving all of the social and environmental issues that we struggle with today”.
Solving problems are precisely what many of the design entries, like the Byron Bay solar-powered train, aspire to. The world-first solar-powered train certainly took a valuable risk in its ingenious replacement of Byron’s heritage trains’ diesel engines with solar panels, as it lowers carbon emissions, noise pollution and operation costs for Byron locals. However, if you want to see the ultimate environmental cycle, it doesn’t get much cooler than the Huskee cup. The Huskee cup is literally designed to hold what it is made from – coffee – making it both amazing to feel, and environmentally sustainable! Another design to watch out for is The Funding Network online platform, which utilises live crowdfunding in Australia to harness the power of collective action and ensure charities receive the support they need to thrive. Judge Ben Crothers was optimistic about the way such designs can utilise technology; “Things like The Funding Network give me hope that technology can be used for good without too many people getting in the way”.
However, even those designs that don’t fix all the world’s problems in an app, have to be meaningful if they want to be recognised with an award, according to Good Design Awards judge Dr. Oya Demirbelik. Guiding me through some of her favourites, Dr. Demirbelik said that she loved designs like the Mamma-pillo, which cleverly operates as a comfortable pillow to be inserted on a parent’s arm when holding a baby. Dr. Demirbelik determined a good design as one with future marketability. She said that the “designs not only have to wow, but also add something meaningful to people’s lives”.
In the coming weeks you can grab your tickets for the Good Design awards on the 17th of May at the Sydney Opera House. With a 60 year history of international prestige, a revealed host of exciting innovations, and special guest presenter Jan Utzon, son of the designer of the Sydney Opera House ceremony venue, this year’s Good Design Awards is truly an event not to be missed. As Prince Phillip quite fittingly said of the Prince Phillip Prize for Australian Design, “It doesn’t matter if you agree with the results of the judges or not, but what matters most is that people are actually talking about design”.