Inventor Sebastian Conran in an interview with Red Dot

The winners of the Red Dot Award: Product Design have been chosen. This year, 39 experts assessed the design quality of more than 6,300 innovations. A total of 69 products – just 1.1% of all entries – received the top award in the competition, the Red Dot: Best of the Best. For the fifth time now, Sebastian Conran was part of the panel of experts. With his know-how, he helped to guarantee the high quality standards of the award and thus the value of the Red Dot seal.

As the CEO of “Sebastian Conran Associates”, Sebastian Conran focuses on designing technologies to make them more emotionally engaging. According to the motto “form follows fabrication”, the designer created a plethora of enduring products through from concept to consumer. He calls himself “an engineer and inventor at heart”. Red Dot talked with Conran about the difference between design and invention, about the iPhone and about the job of designers.

Red Dot: You describe yourself as an inventor. What is the difference between an inventor and a designer?

Sebastian Conran: Since I was a little child, I wanted to be an inventor and I was interested in how things work. An inventor focuses on the functional innovation of products rather than the emotional engagement. Of course, to be designer, you need to focus on both of these things.

What do you like to invent most?

The best inventions are when people look at them and think “Why has never anyone done that before?” and “Oh, that’s a good idea.” I like inventions which solve problems for people and provide solutions – sometimes solutions to problems that people didn’t really know they had until the invention came across. The iPhone is a wonderful example of an invention that has totally transformed millions of people’s lives and before the iPhone arrived, people didn’t know they needed an iPhone. Yet, it has had a huge impact on the culture and the way we live.

How can designers reinvent themselves?

Designers need to reinvent themselves. The perception of designers is that they are only about the way things look. As a designer, I see my job is to focus on the way things are perceived. And that is not just how they look, but their functioning behavior, their personality and their overall emotional engagement. In the 21st century, it is the job of the designer to transform technology into user experience and social culture.

The designers and companies which succeeded in convincing Sebastian Conran and his jury colleagues with an interplay of aesthetics and function, will be displayed in the Online Exhibition from 9 July 2018, the day of the Red Dot Gala.

» More information on the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2018 at