iF Design Award 2021: future-facing innovation

2021-12-22 06:43:07 By : Ms. Emily Yang

The iF Design Award 2021 is celebrating the ‘CreatiFe Power of Design’. The judges were tasked with highlighting ways in which design can power and inspire innovation and diversity. Showcasing brilliant minds and future-facing products, Wallpaper* has selected its iF award-winning highlights from the telecommunications, kitchens, leisure, building technology, offices, textiles, flooring and home furniture categories.

The 2022 iF Design Award panel has already finished registration. As a next step, the jury board will meet in January 2022 for the online preselection. Over 130 international design, architecture and communication experts will evaluate a large number of achievements in nine disciplines for the final jury in Berlin.

Meanwhile, here’s our pick of the best 2021 contributors in terms of innovative material use, five of them honoured with an iF Gold Award.

Nodding to a passion for music, design and craftsmanship, the Beosound Balance speaker is inspired by interior objects to redefine home audio. A soft, rounded silhouette uses materials such as solid oak and knitted textiles and hides an innovative user interface and seven carefully placed speaker drivers with beam-forming technology. Listeners choose between powerful, room-filling sound for everyday listening, and directional sound for precise and immersive music experiences.

For 2021, the Cupertino design team introduced a powerful 5G smartphone with a microarchitecture that incorporates stainless steel and a special mirror finish. With a matte glass back and edge-to-edge Super Retina XDR display all protected by a ceramic shield front cover, the flat side-frame design revisits a look that was originally seen on earlier iPhone models from as far back as 2007.

Available in two sizes, 6.1in and 6.7in, the iPhone 12 Pro’s advanced pro camera system includes an expansive ultra-wide camera, telephoto camera, and wide camera, as well as the new LiDAR scanner for augmented reality experiences and improved camera capabilities.

With every piece of its ultra-lightweight eyewear made with a minimalist approach, without screws, rivets or welded parts, Lindberg eyewear is the embodiment of Danish design. Co-founded by an architect and an optometrist back in1986, Lindberg is now pushing the possibilities of titanium to new heights with its Thintanium collection.

Super slender, clean and elegant, Lindberg Thintanium eyewear’s ultra-thin design and screwless friction hinges give the collection a light, elegant and rimless aesthetic that saw it honoured with an iF Gold Award by the jury.

Made by German office furniture specialist Inwerk, Masterbox is a modular kitchen system constructed from steel and primarily intended for work spaces, apartments and hotels. More stable and hygienic than standard, fitted wooden kitchens, Masterbox designs are durable, moisture- and heat-resistant, and their modular, magnetically connected units are easily adapted for domestic use. An outdoor version of the system is also available.

Barcelona-based designer Jorge Pensi created the ‘Ikona’ chair with an inviting, open-armed shape offering an embrace to anyone who sits on it. Produced by Resol as a single piece of injected polypropylene with fibreglass, using gas-assisted injection moulding technology and UV protection, the monobloc chair is stackable, lightweight and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Available in six colourways.

The judges focused on the hinge of the Luxottica-made, Philippe Starck-designed Biotech Paris Sphere eyewear range, acknowledging an innovative, minimalistic feature that is simplified yet uniquely effective. According to Starck, ‘Sphere draws inspiration from nature’s infinite intelligence. The sphere is the purest and most solid structure in the world: minimal perfection, essential beauty.’

Made from a 0.07g steel ball inserted into an injected front, Sphere is paired with a 0.8mm titanium temple offering multidirectional freedom of movement. Its conception avoids the need for varnishing or additional mechanical operations, substantially reducing environmental impact.

With an imposing, monolithic, ceramic frontage interrupted only by a narrow stainless-steel strip, the Siemens Ceramic Fridge owes its inspiration to minimalist architecture.  While the fridge/freezer’s slender shape blends easily into contemporary kitchens, its use of hygienic materials – vibrantly textured, silky-matt white marble or slate grey surfaces – make it easy to clean and maintain. Features include hyperFresh Plus freshness technology for prolonged shelf life.

This fresh air fan is made from a new environmentally protective material, expanded polypropylene (EPP), which is lightweight and sound insulating. It can also be fully recycled and degrades naturally.

Originated by China’s ARTOP Design Group, the product features an innovative and efficient graphene heat exchanger, while a five-layered progressive high-efficiency filter improves purification and sterilisation capacity. The EC DC frequency conversion motor generates strong wind power and is equipped with a micro-positive pressure filter screen.

In an industry first, the ultralight Braided Solo Loop smart watch band introduces a continuous and stretchable band design that comes in a choice of soft silicone and braided yarn materials. Each Braided Solo Loop features a unique, stretchable design for extra comfort and ease to slip on and off the wrist.

Made from 100 per cent recycled materials, the 16,000 polyester yarn filaments in each band are interwoven with thin silicone threads using advanced braiding machinery, then laser cut to an exact length. The 300D construction offers a soft, textured feel and is both sweat-resistant and water-resistant.

Pressed from a single piece of PET felt, the ‘TakeoSeat’ is a simple, lightweight folding stool, its materials and production methods acknowledging a drive for sustainability and 100 per cent recyclability. Designed and manufactured by Sedus Stoll for agile working environments, the stool also fulfils its purpose in a café, a child’s bedroom, or even, suggest its German manufacturers, ‘a spontaneous kitchen party in a student apartment’.

Finished with carefully selected Japanese oak, the Karimoku ‘Vanity’ is a novel washstand that makes full use of the gentle texture of natural wood and all the advantages the material has to offer. The precise craftsmanship of Karimoku, Japan's leading manufacturer of wooden furniture, was applied to create a cabinet with hidden screws, and a textured door panel that presents a canvas for light play and shadow.

The contemporary, minimalist design and the authentic texture of natural wood blend harmoniously into a variety of interiors, from simple and modern environments to warm organic spaces.

An all-terrain boot that smells like fresh coffee, the XpreSole® Panto is an unconventional footwear maverick. Sustainably made using recycled coffee grounds (a major source of greenhouse gases when landfilled) the shoe’s ultra-lightweight, double-layered, water- and dirt-proof, machine-washable construction make it ideal for city and country hiking in the rain and snow. The ‘XpreSole Panto’ is also moisture-wicking, fast-drying, odour/mildew-controlled, responsive, resilient, and has a great under-foot grip. 

Aiming to align its users with the circular economy, product excellence and community engagement, the manufacturer promises that one pair of ‘XpreSole Pantos’ upcycles 15 cups of spent coffee grains.

EcoTEX is a new carpet backing developed to provide the customer with improved sustainable options. A felt backing, it is produced from more than 85 per cent PET material. Equal to a minimum of 50 0.5-litre PET bottles per sq m, EcoTex is 100 per cent free of bitumen, PVC, latex, and other problem substances, and has low volatile organic compounds emission.

The backing is made of four layers designed for product weight, flexible production, comfort, and sustainability. Soft and flexible, EcoTex, by Denmark’s Fletco Carpets, can also be used for broadloom carpet, while additional processing makes it more rigid and compact for use as a backing on carpet tiles.

Much more than just an air purifier, Roehl’s Madeleine was designed using ultimate circular economy principles, with many of its sustainable components intended to last for 25 years. It is smart, easy to repair or refurbish and service, and its elegantly designed, portable air-purifying services are available for consumer rental.

The ‘Blend’ eyewear collection, from Austrian company Silhouette, combines two materials – SPX and titanium – without the need for glue. The harmonious connection and clear transitions between these materials are important in the design, its technical sophistication shown in the invisible, adhesive-free snap connection of the components.

The slightly conical base body is gently delimited by a radius and holds the SPX body in a form-fitting manner. The delicate trim is formally repeated with the typical metal ring in the temple end and gives the glasses a strong sense of value.

Inspired by Seiko’s original 1968 Diver 300m watch, the 2021 reimagining of this horological classic uses the marque’s own, marine industry-standard ‘Ever-Brilliant Steel’. More corrosion-resistant than the steel used in many luxury watches, this affords the SLA039J1 model a long life span.

To meet the quality requirements for use in the harsh environment of saturation diving, the watch’s structure had to be designed to be robust and airtight. Design and form factor were just as important, both evident in the watch’s elegant shape. Seiko believes a watch to be a rare product that can be used for generations. This model acknowledges that tradition, adopting historical design in an edition that improves on performance.