Red Dot Award: Product Design

Winners exhibitions in the Red Dot Design Museum Essen

Red Dot Design Museum Essen puts spotlight on award-winning products from 2020 in three new exhibitions

As part of the Red Dot Design Week, three new special exhibitions were opened in the Red Dot Design Museum on 23 June 2020. The exhibitions introduce the winning products from the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2020 to the general public:

„Onnellisuus – designed by Fiskars“

Onnellisuus is the Finnish word for happiness. It is the goal that forms the entire product development and design process at Fiskars, this year’s winner of the honorary title “Red Dot: Design Team of the Year”. In the special exhibition “Onnellisuus – designed by Fiskars”, the Fiskars Design Team under Creative Design Lead Petteri Masalin provides a comprehensive overview of its design accomplishments in recent years.

Making the everyday extraordinary – This is the approach taken by the Finnish company since its founding in 1649 to develop and manufacture top-quality products that make everyday life richer and easier in the long term. The design team under the management of Petteri Masalin plays a major part in Fiskars’ success. It designs products that win over consumers with their ergonomic nature and their user friendliness, but also their technological innovation and groundbreaking combinations of materials. Fiskars’ pioneering design achievements are primarily attributable to two factors: a language of form that is heavily influenced by Nordic nature, and endless innovative power.

The distinctive and uniform design feature of almost all Fiskars products are elements in the company colour Fiskars Orange. The orange colour has been used in a targeted manner since Olof Bäckström, who joined Fiskars as an industrial designer in 1958, designed a universal scissors in the 1960s. Fiskars was the first to combine plastic and metals as materials for the scissors, which featured an ergonomic plastic handle in bright orange. The scissors became a symbol of the brand as well as an important part of Finnish national cultural heritage. And the colour orange, which was mainly used because it was fashionable at the time, has been inextricably linked to the brand ever since.

The exhibition “Onnellisuus – designed by Fiskars” moves between tradition and innovation and between technology and nature, presenting the products in an unusual way, for example in the form of a “Fiskars Forest”. The exhibition will be on show in the Red Dot Design Museum in Essen until 24 January 2021. 

“Milestones in Contemporary Design 2020–2021“

The best products in the competition year – the current milestones in contemporary product design – will be showcased in a dedicated exhibition in the museum’s White Hall and White Box until 31 May 2021. These objects were awarded a Red Dot: Best of the Best by the jury for the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2020 and are thus at the very top of their respective category.

The exhibition uses these outstanding products as examples to demonstrate that such design milestones ably combine the four qualities of good design: the quality of function, of seduction, of use and of responsibility. These qualities are present in different proportions in each product, but none of the four aspects can be lacking. There is a graph beside each product that illustrates how the exhibits rate on a scale of one to ten for each quality.

One excellent example of the quality of function is the Arctic Patrol Modular Parka from Helly Hansen, an impressively complex yet practical jacket system. Featuring an iconic design, its perfect functionality makes it ideal for use in cold climates. By contrast, the quality of seduction is clearly exemplified in the Apple Pro Display XDR with its surprising rear view: The innovative lattice design improves functionality by making the monitor lighter and increasing air flow. At the same time, it is unusual and genuinely eye-catching. The quality of use is emphasised strongly by the Honda e, for example. This compact electric car can be driven using just one pedal. There are also numerous innovative assistance systems that make it very easy to drive. Last but not least, the quality of responsibility is especially visible in BrainRobotics from BrainCo, a hand prosthesis with artificial intelligence that allows its wearer to make intuitive movements that become more and more natural over time using the muscle signals transmitted by what remains of the limb.

“Design on Stage 2020–2021”

The third exhibition, “Design on Stage”, which is likewise on show until 31 May 2021, extends across all five floors of the Red Dot Design Museum. It starts in the Fundamenthalle on the ground floor with a kind of “design trail”, an introduction to the fundamental principles of design, which are explained using products as examples. These include for example “Form follows function” and “Form follows emotion”, but other topics include the dominant form, execution, new materials and smart products that are part of systems in a Big Data environment. With all of this knowledge in tow, visitors are well prepared to discover the other four floors and inspect the design exhibits for themselves.

On level three, visitors encounter a special exhibition space that showcases products awarded with the new “Innovative Products” metacategory introduced in 2020. This space presents particularly exciting new product developments – from technical refinements and reinvented shapes to the development or the use of new materials as well as products that are revolutionary in terms of their approach to use. Products that win an award in this category have set new standards in their respective industry or even become the basis for innovation in order to expand the design scope of designers and architects. An example of such a product is the Prestigio Click&Touch, which combines a keyboard, touchpad and mouse all in one. The intelligent device has integrated sensors that automatically recognise whether the user is typing or using the touchpad to scroll, swipe or move the cursor, and switches seamlessly to the corresponding mode.