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Port House by Zaha Hadid Architects | © Helene Binet
Port House by Zaha Hadid Architects | © Helene Binet
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A Self-Driving Bus, the 'Pussyhat' and Kanye West Clothing Are All Up for Beazley Designs of the Year

Picture of Charlotte Luxford
Home & Design Editor
Updated: 16 August 2017
In its 10th year, the London Design Museum‘s Beazley Designs of the Year has announced 2017’s nominees, which include everything from Kanye West’s clothing range for his Life of Pablo tour to the Olympic refugee flag and Wolfgang Tillmans’ ‘Remain Campaign’.

The exhibition will be opening its doors to the public October 18, where you’ll be able to see a wide variety of thought-provoking and innovative designs from across the world, spread across six categories.

One of the stand-out themes of this year’s exhibition is activism and protest, with a particular focus on Donald Trump’s presidency, the Brexit referendum and the ongoing refugee crisis. One contender is a 3D interactive recreation of a Syrian torture prison, which is based on the accounts of survivors, plus there’s the ‘Pussyhat’ on display, which was created in reaction to Trump’s sexist remarks.

Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC
Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC | © Getty, courtesy of Design Museum

An overall winner will be chosen from the 62 nominations on January 25, 2018 – last year’s winner was a flat-packed refugee shelter called ‘Better Shelter‘, which was designed in collaboration with IKEA. Here are the highlights from the 2017 shortlist by category.


Name: Mrs Fan’s Plugin House
Designers: People’s Architecture Office

The Plugin House is designed to combat sky-high real estate in central Beijing by providing an affordable prefab module that replaces part of the existing house and adds new functions in the process to improve living standards.

Courtesy of Peoples Architecture Office
Courtesy of Peoples Architecture Office

Name: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Designers: Adjaye Associates

The NMAAHC in Washington D.C. was inaugurated by President Obama last year and is the result of a long struggle to recognise the importance of the black community in the nation’s history and identity. Designed by one of the world’s most respected contemporary architects, Sir David Adjaye, is a striking three-tiered building clad in decorated bronze plates that reference traditional African American craftsmanship.

Courtesy of Design Museum
Courtesy of Design Museum


Name: Saydnaya: Inside a Syrian Torture Prison
Designers: Forensic Architecture and Amnesty International

This interactive reconstruction of a torture prison called Saydnaya near Damascus has been recreated by researchers who worked in collaboration with the prison’s survivors. The overall effect is a chilling and uncomfortably intimate experience that confronts the viewer with the harsh reality of these ‘black holes’, where many have been tortured or have died, unmonitored. It’s part of a larger Amnesty International campaign to get the Syrian government to agree to independent monitoring of its detention centres.

Courtesy of Design Museum
Courtesy of Design Museum

Name: Meet Graham: The only person designed to survive on our road
Designers: Patricia Piccinini for Transport Accident Authority (TAC)

‘Graham’ may look bizarre, but he’s actually designed to show what our bodily features would need to look like to survive a low-impact car crash – the interactive sculpture is partly an educational tool but also a conversation piece.

Courtesy of Design Museum
Courtesy of Design Museum


Name: Nike Pro Hijab
Designer: Nike

Revealed just two days prior to International Women’s Day, this important design was a collaboration between an athletic team and Nike to create a high-performance hijab that could ‘change the face of sport for Muslim women’ and was inspired by Sarah Attar’s 2012 Olympic victory for Saudi Arabia.

Courtesy of Design Museum
Courtesy of Design Museum

Name: ‘Life of Pablo’ merchandise and pop-up stores
Designers: Kanye West and Mat Vlasic for Bravado

This was the first-ever global pop-up event, which spanned 21 stores in different cities across the world to sell limited-edition merchandise based around Kanye West‘s album The Life of Pablo. Each venue was announced just 24 hours before it opened – the UK shop was set up in London’s Old Street.

Courtesy of Donda
Courtesy of Donda


Name: The Refugee Nation flag
Designers: Yara Said with The Refugee Nation for Amnesty International

Inspired by life jackets, the bold design by Syrian artist and refugee Yara Said was created to represent ‘The Refugee Nation’, the first-ever refugee team to compete in the Olympics in Rio last year.

© Francisco de Deus Photography

Name: Me & EU
Designers: Nathan Smith and Sam T Smith

Designed to create a sense of unity, good humour and solidarity after the EU referendum result, this collection of postcards by various UK creatives were sent to 27 countries across Europe to ‘remain in touch’ when Article 50 was triggered.

Courtesy of Design Museum
Courtesy of Design Museum


Name: Nimuno Loops
Designers: Anine Kirsten and Max Basler

Lovers of Lego will enjoy this bendy design from Nimuno Loops, which allows users to construct their Lego creations pretty much anywhere in the home, whether it’s wrapped around walls, on furniture or even the ceiling.

Courtesy of Design Museum
Courtesy of Design Museum

Name: The Pilot translating earpiece
Designers: Waverly Labs
This clever little kit is the world’s first earpiece to instantly translate conversation between its users without interruption. The crowdfunding campaign sourced $5m before it was actually sold and it can work with 15 languages, although it can be updated to include more.

Image digitally generated by Sergio Del Rio
Image digitally generated by Sergio Del Rio


Name: Olli
Designers: Local Motors

Not only is this bus 3D printed, it’s also the world’s first self-driving electric vehicle. It can carry 12 people individually, or be used as part of a network of smart vehicles working collaboratively in a self-driving system.

Courtesy of Design Museum
Courtesy of Design Museum

Name: SeaBubbles
Designers: Alain Thebault

This cute little water taxi is noise and emissions free, plus it has a self-charging dock that puts energy back into the grid and it cleans the waterways.

Courtesy of Design Museum
Courtesy of Design Museum

Beazley Designs of the Year will be on display from October 18, 2017 to January 28, 2018.