From functional style towards design: 1988 and today
Product designs are always an expression of their time: they are dependent on social as well as technological developments which become manifest both in the language of form and in the choice of the colour and material. Due to technical progress and an increasing importance of the human factor, design has become a key feature in many industries and plays an important role in numerous aspects of life. The comparison of statements from 1988 and 2015 shows in which way the role of design has changed in different product areas.
In 1988, the jury of the competition "Design-Innovationen" by the former “Haus Industrieform” as asked in which product category the design deficit is the greatest. In some answers, public transportion and urban orientation systems or even social housing facilities were mentioned. 27 years later, these conclusions can still be confirmed. Prof. Dr. Peter Zec, founder and CEO of Red Dot, explains in an interview with the German magazine "Galore", that a local or a cargo train are "just made'' and underlie a pure "functional design”. The expert names the lack of choices and a lack of economic competition as two reasons: “Unlike the ICE, which is in competition with the airplane and has to earn money, the regional transport is a basic offer without an alternative. Where the customer has no choice, I do not need to satisfy him aesthetically." A comparable opinion applies to correspondence forms of public offices and authorities, "in which the citizens, unlike to his bank has no choice." Also in 1988, the former juror Dieter von Amende Teodorescu answered to the question “in which segment the design deficit is the greatest”: “forms, instruction leaflets, energy and telephone invoices, digital prints”.
In contrast, a changing design understanding is observed in other product categories. In the late 1980s, Charles Ash named medical devices as a product category with a lack of design standards. Nowadays, the positive changes can be seen not only in doctors' offices, hospitals, or during the purchase of medical products, but also in the winners in the Red Dot Award: Product Design. In recent years, more and more products have been awarded in the category "Life science and medicine." In 2015, three products were awarded with the highest single distinction of the competition, the “Red Dot: Best of the Best”: the single-use female catheter “SpeediCath Compact Eve”, the digital X-Ray imaging diagnostic Device “FDR D-EVO II Series” and the power assist unit for wheelchairs “JWX-2”. Contemporary medical designs are benefiting from a high technical standard, which provides more freedom of design and from a society gearing towards inclusion.
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Red Dot Award: Product Design 2016 - Facts and figures
Early Bird: 26 October 2015 - 4 December 2015
Regular: 5 December 2015 - 26 January 2016
Latecomer: 27 January 2016 - 10 February 2016
Jury session: February 2016
Red Dot Gala: 4 July 2016