Countdown begins to Designer of the Year

Four creative talents are battling it out for the prestigious title of Designer of the Year 2005, with a cash prize of £25,000.

Launched by the Design Museum, the annual competition seeks to award the UK designer, or design team, whose contribution to industry has exerted the biggest effect or has been exemplary.

The four shortlisted candidates, unlikely bedfellows in any other industry, are the Guardian newspaper, the pioneer of the Gorillaz characters, a furniture designer and the founder of a humanitarian design agency.

Last year, the left of centre-publication, edited by Alan Rusbridger, declared it would keep up with The Times by going compact – or almost, opting instead for Le Monde’s Berliner format.

The Guardian’s creative director, Mark Porter, spearheaded the revamp of the broadsheet, in a move that buoyed circulation, and introduced 200 different fonts into a smaller yet more colourful newspaper.

His design team will compete against Jamie Hewlett, the visionary behind the characters for the punk reggae dub band Gorillaz, the latest music project of ex-Blur frontman Damon Albarn.

The animated characters are intended to eclipse both Hewlett - an established cartoonist- and Albarn, the musician, by letting audiences focus solely on the music, rather than a celebrity personality.

The project’s success has spawned ongoing artwork and competitions, merchandise and even animated performances of the band ‘members.’

Hewlett faces stiff competition from the most traditional entrant for the accolade – Tom Dixon, the furniture and product designer, who the Financial Times reports has had an “exceptionally prolific year.”

Having set up his own company, the self-educated designer has had projects on show in Selfridges, Trafalgar Square, the Milan Furniture Fair and more recently, has designed products for Habitat, Magis and Swarovski.

Credited for championing the theme of reductionism – ‘the stripping down of objects,’ the Tunisian-born designer has seen his concepts and creations showcased in the Victory & Albert Museum, after their success worldwide.

He faces off against design candidate no. 4 - Cameron Sinclair, founder of a charity that carries the mission statement of finding, “architectural solutions to humanitarian crises” worldwide.

His creative projects have housed, helped and nursed communities in emergency zones such as Kosovo, India, Sri Lanka, and most recently in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the south east Asia tsunami.

As the co-founder of Architecture for Humanity, Sinclair is currently concentrating on projects to advance the long-term social and economic development of refugees worldwide.

You can judge all four entrants in an exhibition at the Design Museum from March 4 to June 18. The winner of the prize will be announced in May.


13th January 2006

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