It’s been a pretty eventful year last year, but I’m glad we’re through with it and we’ve got a lot to look forward to, including this year’s A’ Design Award World Design Rankings. We enter into 2021 with last year’s rankings standing as they are (the charts will only be updated after the A’ Design Awards announce their results in April), but it’s important to look at the progress we’ve made in 2020. Standing firmly at the top of the World Design Rankings are China, USA, and Japan with a total of 3791 awards between them through the years.
The list, created by the A’ Design Awards and Competition organization aims at capturing the year on year design progress of each country. Featuring as many as 108 nations on the list, the World Design Rankings are an ever-changing, ever-evolving set of rankings that wholly encapsulate design progress through their awards program. With the 2020-2021 edition still accepting submissions, it’ll be interesting to see how the rankings change this year. If you want to see your country on the top (along with showcase your best work to the world) take a look at our article on what Design Awards can do for your Career.
We’ve meticulously compiled a few of the top awarded designs from the 3 leading countries that shone at the A’ Design Award. Scroll below to see our selection and if you do want to help your country rise higher up the design rankings, the A’ Design Awards are still accepting submissions till the 28th of February! Every entry you submit raises your country’s score (even more if it wins an award!).
01. Cady Smart Cane by Harvard University (USA)
Introducing tech in a relevant way to the elderly, the Cady is a smart cane that helps correct gait, track activity, set goals, works as an SOS remote, and lets you contact physicians and therapists whenever needed. The tech lies entirely within Cady’s handle, which snaps onto a bespoke cane, made to the length of the person who needs it. It uses a series of subtle vibrations to help correct the walker’s gait, reducing chances of them falling and/or injuring themselves, while keeping tabs on the user’s movement, activity, allowing them to set personal goals as well as share data with their therapist or doctor. At the end of the day, the handle snaps right off the cane and docks into its own charging station so it can be used another day. There’s even a light built into the back to work as a visual alert.
02. Acorn Leisure Chair by Wei Jingye, Chen Yufan and Wang Ruilin (China)
Designed to be a resting area both for you as well as your pet, the Acorn Leisure Chair turns the space underneath the seat into an enclosure for small animals. The chair’s organic curves come inspired from its namesake, the acorn, and its base heavy design provides the perfect resting space for your pet, while allowing you to easily (and comfortably) sit on top. The wooden parts of the chair are CNC-machined to perfection, while the wrought-iron pipes on the base give the chair its sturdiness, while allowing your pets to see your legs as they sit inside their safe-space, providing a unique connection between both occupants! Alternatively, you could use the space under the seat to store books and pillows too.
03. Relax Smartphone Stand by Kenji Fujii (Japan)
This clever little stand turns your phone into a virtual fireplace! Meet the Relax, a 3D-printed smartphone stand that lets you play a looped video of a burning fire while it charges. Designed to be more than just an average charging stand, the Relax helps you unwind too. Once you dock it in, you’re less likely to use your phone to aimlessly browse the internet or doomscroll. Besides, that quirky virtual fireplace should really help calm you down and achieve a little zen!
04. Pluto Lamp by Heitor Lobo Campos for Gantri (USA)
Pluto was inspired by telescopes, which use tripods and dynamic but stable forms… however, instead of having a lamp focusing upward and outward (like telescopes), Pluto shines downward, focusing on the earth in general, and your table, specifically. Designed by Heitor Lobo Campos for 3D-printing lighting company Gantri, Pluto’s form is simple and sensible. A cylindrical lamp rests on 3 legs, giving it a small, stable footprint, while a circular ring that extends around the top works as a handle, allowing you to lift the lamp to move it around, while also sort of making it look like a planet with rings around it. Maybe the lamp should have been called Saturn, eh?!
05. Airwood Multifunctional Wooden Drone by Uavi Technology (China)
The Airwood puts a creative spin on drone tech that works brilliantly for a number of reasons. The drone ships flat-packed, with its body-parts laser cut out of pieces of plywood, allowing it to take much less space while shipping. Just put the wooden pieces and the tech elements together and you have a fully-functional quad-propeller drone with a remote that even lets you dock your smartphone! On the off chance that your drone’s wooden body sustains some damage, you can easily use its negative (from the original plywood sheet) as a template to craft new pieces, allowing you to fix and upgrade your drone on the fly. It’ll save you cash in the long run, and hey, you’ll even learn how to assemble drones in the process!
06. Cloud Chair by Shota Urasaki (Japan)
Capturing perhaps every child’s dream, the Cloud Chair gives you the feeling of sitting on a floating cloud. Unlike traditional chairs with 3-4 legs, the Cloud Chair is elevated using multiple metal rods, not only giving the cloud its perceived lightness and airy-ness, but also resembling steady drops of rain falling from the cloud’s underbelly. The inspiration for the chair came to Shota Urasaki after she saw a moving cloud raining over a distant coastline. Inspiration immediately struck and the Cloud Chair was born. The seat comes made from clusters of polyester fibers pierce-fitted into a block of polyurethane foam to give the visual as well as the tactile appeal of a puffy cloud. The seat rests on multiple stainless steel supports, with a mirror at its base to give the rain an illusion of continuity. Clever, eh??
07. Arc Guitar Stand by Hung Yuan Chang (USA)
The Arc Guitar Stand has an incredible sculptural quality to it, which is unusual for a product that’s usually designed to be really functional. A guitar stand is usually quite an unassuming product that fundamentally exists as a background element to the guitar, which sits atop it. With the Arc, the stand has an aesthetic appeal that makes it look beautiful even when there isn’t a guitar resting on it. Besides, its design does a pretty good job of propping up the instrument too!
08. Invisible Speaker by Eogo Sound Shenzhen Co., Ltd (China)
Meet the Invisible Speaker, a loudspeaker that’s slim enough to fit right into your drywall. Measuring a mere 33mm in thickness, the Invisible Speaker uses aerospace-grade materials to achieve its slim profile, while relying on a clever honeycomb-inspired cabinet design and surface audio technology to produce balanced, full-range audio with minimal to no distortion in a 180° span, covering practically your entire room without even being visible!
09. Cloud of Luster Wedding Chapel by Tetsuya Matsumoto (Japan)
This wedding chapel’s unusual amoeboid shape gives one the appearance of being inside a cloud… a fitting metaphor for people who literally feel like they’re on the top of the world when they get married! The Cloud of Luster’s white ceiling gives it a certain austerity that’s hard to ignore, and those gently descending pillars make the architecture look unconventionally light. Couple that with the fact that the entire chapel floats on a man-made pond and you get some dazzling reflections of the space on the water below. Truly a magical sight for people wanting to celebrate their magical moment, if you ask me!