Designs of the Year 2014

The crowd-pleasing Lego Calendar designed by Vitamins Design, UK

The crowd-pleasing Lego Calendar designed by Vitamins Design, UK

Earlier this week I went along to the press preview of the Design Museum's 7th annual Designs of the Year exhibition. It's a collation of the best global innovations of the last 12 months from seven categories: Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Furniture, Graphic, Product and Transport design.

I was impressed by the breadth of subjects being tackled

... from a crowd-pleasing Lego Calendar (pictured above) which works in the traditional analogue format - the bricks represent the projects people are working on - but when you photograph it with your smartphone it synchs with your digital diary, so it works on the go too. Vitamin Designs, UK, who came up with the idea actually use it in their studio and love the tactile nature of it (bagsy the Wonder Woman mini figure, 3rd from top).

... to the Fairphone, an ethical mobile phone, in that every aspect - from sourcing of materials to manufacture - is open and fair. Designed by Bas van Abel in Holland and funded by a Kickstarter campaign it takes an ethical approach to the provenance of our pocket technology, much like we already do with other consumer goods like coffee or beef. It's always good, if painful, to be reminded of the environmental impact of our mass consumption.

... to a lighter-hearted solution to that conundrum of what shoes to wear when you want to cycle to work: they need to be practical, but not toooo practical, enter Tracey Neuls's rubber-soled Reflector Geek Bike Shoes a hybrid cycling shoe (pictured below). Loving the fluoro orange version.

Cool cycling footwear... Reflector Geek Bike Shoes by Tracey Neuls

Cool cycling footwear... Reflector Geek Bike Shoes by Tracey Neuls

Not forgetting

... the viral public-safety film about being safe around trains Dumb Ways To Die an app which features cute characters who meet increasingly grisly ends and has an insanely catchy song - it went nuts on You Tube (76 million views so far)

... also the PEEK portable eye examination kit which uses smartphone technology to revolutionise eye care in developing countries.

The exhibition reminded me how design is all around us and has the power to make things, experiences, people's lives, the environment... better. And it affects all of us, it's not just an exclusive club. I sometimes think the Design Musuem, which is in Shad Thames, by Tower Bridge, is a bit stand-offish, not least because it's a bit of a hassle to get to. I hope when it relocates in 2015 to the former Commonwealth Institute building in Kensington High Street, West London, it will be more easily accessible to more people.

As the slogan for Designs of the Year goes: "Someday The Other Museums Will Be Showing This Stuff". It matters to all of us.

The exhibition runs until 25th August.

And you can vote for your favourite in the Visitor Vote.

Walking back to London Bridge station I saw a depressing building under construction which looked like a giant air conditioning unit. It made me think of the NLA exhibition London's Growing Up about the explosion of tall buildings threatening to change the London skyline... there are an astonishing 230 towers over 20 storeys planned for the city. Gulp.

Walking back to London Bridge station I saw a depressing building under construction which looked like a giant air conditioning unit. It made me think of the NLA exhibition London's Growing Up about the explosion of tall buildings threatening to change the London skyline... there are an astonishing 230 towers over 20 storeys planned for the city. Gulp.