Design of the Year Awards, Design Museum, Shad Thames, London.

Described as “the Oscars of the design world”, London’s Design Museum has currently devoted a floor to this annual Design of the Year Award.  International designs from seven categories have been nominated: architecture, digital, fashion, furniture, graphics, transport and product. Category winners and an overall winner will be announced on 17th April.

 

The event has been curated to mix the categories together, giving a pleasing hodge-podge of designs from different areas.  The exhibition showcases high-brow couture alongside everyday design, such as the non-stick ketchup bottle. Attractive graphic designs include the covers of Ralph Ellison’s books designed in the jazz-era style, and Adam Thurlwell’s book written with type-faces running in all different directions, and with pull-out sections in amongst the book to emphasise the chaotic nature of the story.

 

Two exhibits stood out to me from a health psychology perspective. The first was an app which aims to encourage exercise by making it more fun to run. The “Zombies, Run!” app, creates an interactive running experience. This is a personalised gaming environment which combines music from your playlists on your smartphone with voiceovers and sound effects. The app tells you where to run to escape the zombies.

 

The second exhibit that caught my eye was Australian cigarette packaging. This has gone further than UK cigarette packaging, in that nearly all of the packet is made of up disturbing imagery of smoking-related diseases and brand logos are absent. All colour palettes have been replaced by Pantone Green 448C, identified as the least attractive colour for packaging from market research by the Australian Department for Health and Ageing.

 

These two designs show psychological understanding being harnessed to provide useful interventions in an everyday context. The first shows short-term reward being used to reinforce exercising behaviour, the second shows health promotion campaigns harnessing the power of imagery and acting to limit the subliminal power of branding.

 

Whether it is the psychology of design you are interested in or not, the exhibition is worth checking out, for the diversity of the exhibits and to see what is being rated in the world of design at present. 

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