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Every year, the Henry Ford Museum, official home of American ideas and innovation, hosts the International Design Excellence Awards. Twenty international design experts head to Dearborn, Michigan, for a two-day huddle that decides the winners. 

The diversity of objects and ideas among the hundreds of entries runs from bathroom furniture to bicycles, smartphones to sports gear, commercial products and student projects. 

This year, the jury awarded 36 golds and we’re proud to say that Nokia’s Lumia 800 and Lumia 900 made the selection.

Here’s a brief glimpse of what the design industry thinks looks good, works well and benefits mankind in 2012.

LED Clear Bulb by Panasonic

LED Clear Bulb by Panasonic

Defying the naysayers, these bright sparks have proved that you can reinvent the lightbulb. Panasonic’s LED bulb may look like an old fashioned incandescent bulb with its clear glass and visible filament, yet by burning at only 4.4 watts, this bulb has a lifetime of 40,000 hours, putting Thomas Edison firmly in his place.

The Jury said: “What’s stunning about this piece is the conceptual and organizational tenacity it takes to deliver such dead-simple elegance – wow.” Tad Toulis, Creative Director, Teague.

Paper Bottle by Ecologic Brands


Paper Bottle by Ecologic Brands

Packaging liquid in paper is certainly thinking out of the box. The moulded outer shell is made of recycled cardboard and news print. However, all is not quite as it seems. Crack it open when the soap is spent and you reveal an inner plastic pouch. The bottle uses 70% less plastic and because the design doesn’t mix materials the two parts can be recycled separately.

The Jury said: “A bold icon of sustainable design – it’s very noticeable on store shelves, and gets consumers to follow through on the separation into recyclable materials thanks to the clever clamshell design.” – Thomas Overthun, Associate Partner & Practice Director, IDEO.

Nike+ FuelBand by Nike


Nike+ FuelBand by Nike

Nike’s Fuelband is a sort of personal fitness amulet, sending us on a quest for magic fuel points and a healthier, happier us. The sleek wearable device syncs with slick software, and gives us goals to get us off the couch.

The Jury said: “Nike … has richly integrated all the elements of user experience; an elegant interface, simple interaction, refined industrial design and a compelling web application. It also tells time.” – Philip Swift, Director of Design, Crown Equipment Corp.

Nokia Lumia

Lumia 800 & 900 by Nokia

At the 2011 IDEA awards, Windows Phone 7 won Best in Show, now it’s Nokia’s Lumia 800 and Lumia 900 that get the glory. Entered separately, the Jury chose to reward the Lumia series for its distinctive contribution to smartphone design.

The Jury said, “In a market in which it is difficult to stand out, the Nokia Lumia brings a fresh perspective. The iconic form is personal and inviting without sacrificing precision, and the construction is modern, efficient and well-crafted down to the smallest details. It’s a bold, gold-worthy effort, and I’m glad to see Nokia reclaim its design swagger.” Jonah Becker, Principal and Creative Director, One & Co.

One-Burner Portable Induction Hob by Samsung

One-Burner Portable Induction Hub by Samsung

Already being called the “iPod Hob”, Samsung’s new burner boasts a touch-sensitive dial backlit by white LEDs, 15 power levels ranging from 50 Watts to 2,200 Watts and functions including boil alert and Booster.

But better than any of that, it looks really cool!

This is bound to bring some compact kitchen chic to your college dorm room while you dial out for pizza.

The Jury said: “By understanding basic user aspirations, the One-burner Portable Induction Hob manages to create an elegant and qualitative consumer product… I want one!” – Khodi Feiz, Founder, Feiz Design Studio. 

DIGIFI: Audionauts by Art Center College of Design

DIGIFI: Audionauts by Art Center College of Design

The Audionauts helmet is designed to grab attention, providing a 3D component to promote the DIGIFI audio symposium and proving the point that high quality audio can take you anywhere.

The interstellar experience inside is powered by 4 woofers, 2 tweeters and a re-purposed widescreen headrest monitor.

The Jury said: “We should celebrate the passionate pursuit and single minded determination that challenges convention, bridges the gap between art and design and explores subjects at the fringe of ‘design’. Audionauts is brilliant and bonkers.” – Rhys Newman, Head of Advanced Design, Nokia. 

THINK/An Exploration Into Making the World Better by IBM

Never daunted by a challenge throughout the company’s 100 years, IBM’s ambitiously-titled exhibit combined three unique experiences to engage visitors in a conversation about how we can improve the way we live and work.

The Jury said: “An immersive experience that tickles your eyes, your ears, your brain; a visual and sensual passage through dense information that is beautiful, complex, and simple at the same time.” – Leslie Speer, Associate Professor of Design, San Jose State University.

To view the complete list of winners, visit