In the face of diversity...

Monday 02 Sep 2013

From stoves that reduce wood consumption to crowd-funded cars, WAN reveals varied 2013 Product of the Year shortlist

Although the Product of the Year attracted global entries from an incredibly wide range of disciplines and applications, the judges had to simply decide the following; can this product show evolution in its respective area and does it bring anything new, fresh and innovative to the table.

The judges that had the task of assessing such depth and breadth were: Andrew Best from Buro Happold; Zoe Laughlin, Creative Director of the Institute of Making; Brendon Moss, Development Director for Land Securities; and Timo Tiainen, Design Director at KONE Corporation.

First onto the shortlist was EBE85, an innovative window and door system with reduced visible frames from Secco Sistemi in Italy. Brendon Moss noted its sleek profile adding that it ‘seems like an evolution to what’s already there’.

Next was the Natural Clay Plaster Interior Walls Finishes by Clay Works in the United Kingdom. Commissioned by Nando’s restaurants, they were able to create an ambience indicative of African and Portuguese origins but combine it with ‘breathability’, odour control qualities with easy application following two years of research and development with the University of Bath.

Andrew Best was obviously impressed, stating: “It’s interesting that when you do building designs, there’s a particularly narrow focus on environmental design that tends to impact on structure and servicing strategy of the building…to see a natural plaster as a finish is really quite refreshing.” Brendan Moss noted that the product ‘has qualities that seem to be lost in many modern materials’.

With the advent of tablet and smartphone technology, a wave of new applications have been evolving to allow architects and builders to make site reporting, snagging lists and the transfer of site documentation quicker and easier. With this in mind, next onto the shortlist was TurboSite by IMSI/Design which Timo Tianen liked as ‘you can just go on site once and do everything there and generate your report’.

Next on the list was the URBEE 2 by KOR EcoLogic Inc from Canada, a crowd-funded project to design the ‘Greenest Car on Earth’ with a 3D printed body. Zoe Laughlin thought that ‘a really nice addition to the shortlist, just through what it says about crowd-sourced projects as well as the car as an urban product and how it shapes our urban environment which, in the context of an architectural prize, is really nice to see’.

Another novel entry onto the shortlist was the Baker Cookstove by Claesson Koivisto Rune of Sweden which was designed to help families in developing countries by reducing wood consumption for fires; positive outcomes include the fact that children would spend less time collecting wood and more time on their education. Brendan Moss loved the idea that it was also crowd-sourced. Zoe Laughlin thought it great that the product ‘offers lots of improvements in many small ways and we don’t have to always innovate something technological’.

The final shortlisted entry was the UltraRope from KONE in Finland, an innovative product that can enable future elevator heights of up to 1,000m, twice as high as what is achievable today. This is achieved by dispensing with traditional steel ropes and instead using a carbon fibre core with a ‘unique’ high friction coating which was regarded unanimously as very impressive and a potential game changer for high buildings, with Zoe Laughlin wondering what other innovative applications carbon fibre ropes may have.

We wish to extend heartiest congratulations to those entries that made it to the shortlist in what was a very diverse and fascinating debate.

Jim Davis
WAN AWARDS Co-ordinator

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