A mini clothes washer that works like a top-load washing machine and a traffic light system that makes road users less anxious are among the two winning entries from Singapore at this year's Red Dot Award for Design Concept.
The two design concepts garnered the Red Dot Award, while another two entries from Singapore - a set of salt-and-pepper grinders that requires only one hand to operate, and a collapsible "kampung-style" shelter that provides disaster relief - received honourable mentions.
The Red Dot Award for Design Concept is one of three international awards given out by Red Dot Design Award every year. It celebrates designs at the conceptual stage.
The winners were announced last Thursday. Of the 4,698 entries from 60 countries submitted this year, 340 concepts were honoured by an international panel of jurors.
The Red Dot Award was given to 245 design concepts. Another 42 concepts clinched a higher-tier award, the Red Dot: Best of the Best, for exceptional design excellence. The rest of the entries received honourable mentions.
The highest accolade, Red Dot: Luminary - singled out from the Best of the Best winners - went to Google for its Self-Driving Car, which pilots itself at the push of a button. It uses a software that allows a computer to see and navigate the world around it.
VIEW IT /EXHIBITION: FUTURE
WHERE: Red Dot Design Museum, 28 Maxwell Road
WHEN: Till March 31, 11am to 8pm daily
ADMISSION: $8 (adult), $4 (student and child under 12) at the door
It pipped entries by other design giants including another self- driving car by German automaker Mercedes-Benz and an intelligent armchair by Japanese company Aisin Seiki.
Design concepts from China swept the highest number of accolades - more than 140. An example is Wave, a compact home electronic device that integrates the functions of an air-conditioner and air purifier to produce cool, clean air.
Multimedia presentations and prototypes of the winning design concepts are showcased at the Red Dot Design Museum Singapore. The exhibition runs until March 31 next year.
The Red Dot Award for Design Concept is open to design students and companies. Judging criteria include degree of innovation, aesthetics, functionality and realisation possibility(whether they can be produced by current technology).
The other two awards honour products that are already in the market (Red Dot Award for Product Design) and communication works including advertising, poster and editorial works (Red Dot Award for Communication Design).
Four award winners
1 SWASH BY RONALD TAN
Won: Red Dot Award (domestic aid category)
Not everyone needs or has space for a full-sized washing machine.
With this in mind, Mr Ronald Tan, 26, a final-year product design student at Lasalle College of the Arts, designed Swash, a mini clothes washer, for a school project last year.
He says: "I was also inspired by my mother who still handwashes clothes, especially when there are not enough clothes for one full load in the washing machine."
Swash works like a miniature top-load washing machine. It is about one-fifth the size of a normal machine and can launder four to five T-shirts or a pair of jeans at a time. There are two detachable components - a washing unit, which has three clamps, and a washing basket.
After the clothes are placed in the basket, the unit is fitted over itand mounted on a pail filled with water with the adjustable clamps. The water level should be such that it can cover the clothes in the basket.
There are buttons on the unit to start and end the washing cycle and to adjust the timer. The washing cycle can take one to 30 minutes.
Once the laundry is done, remove the pail and discard the water.
Fit the empty pail under the basket and start the dry-spin function with the button on the handle of the unit. The basket keeps the clothes in and filters the water out into the pail.
2 FIK LIGHT BY EDMUND LIEW
Won: Red Dot Award (illumination category)
Traffic lights are among the least redesigned of products, according to Singaporean freelance industrial designer Edmund Liew.
But the 37-year-old wanted to make traffic light systems safer and less stressful for motorists and pedestrians to use, so he came up with FIK Light (FIK is derived from the second syllable of the word, traffic).
While conventional traffic lights tend to change colour abruptly, FIK Light operates on a countdown timer that uses light strips instead of numbers as its visual display.
The strips on the green light would disappear one by one from the bottom. The same happens subsequently with the amber light and, finally, the red one.
By using light strips, Mr Liew hopes to create a more aesthetically pleasing design.
He also believes they are more relaxing to look at, compared withnumbers that count down. He says: "Countdown numbers seem to unconsciously cause drivers, especially those who are in a rush, to become more tense."
3 THE LIVING SHELTER BY WY-TO AND POD STRUCTURES Won: Honourable mention (habitat category)
The most common shelter solution for displaced victims - emergency tents - lack security and are not adapted to Asia's hot, humid weather.
The Living Shelter - by Singapore- based companies WY-TO and Pod Structures - aims to offer a portable and more durable solution for disaster relief in this part of the world. Nearly 43 per cent of natural disasters occur in the Asia-Pacific.
Inspired by kampung houses found in South-east Asia, the shelter has roof eaves that shield its inhabitants from sun and rain, and four adjustable legs that elevate the liveable area from the ground to protect it from floods.
The "house" has two doors, one at each end, which facilitate natural ventilation when they are open. The doors can also be locked from inside to give inhabitants security.
The slanted roof channels rainwater into a gutter leading to a water tank that is connected to a tap outside the house. A solar panel on the roof helps to generate energy.
Inside the shelter, there are built- in foldable furniture - a bench, a bed, four hammocks and shelves - and portable furniture such as tables, chairs and a kitchen counter. The space can house an Asian family of four to six.
The shelter, which is about 3.2m long, 2.8m wide and a maximum of 2.6m tall, is made largely of lightweight and sturdy aluminium. It can be collapsed into a flat pack measuring about 2.8m by 2.3m.
Its creators are working towards making the structure light enough to be easily carried by a small group of people. It takes two to three adults less than an hour to assemble it and no tools are needed due to its sliding and folding system.
4 PIPERINE & CRYSTALLINE BY JONATHAN SAPHIRO SALIM
Won: Honourable mention (domestic aid category)
While whipping up a feast with his friends in the kitchen one day, Indonesian student Jonathan Saphiro Salim, 20, found that he had to drop "everything he was doing" to use the pepper grinder as it required both hands to operate it.
He had to hold the body of the grinder with one hand and use the other to twist the rotating top.
"It broke the flow of things," says the final-year product design student at Lasalle College of the Arts.
So he came up withPiperine and Crystalline - a set of salt-and- pepper grinders that come with a cylindrical weight attached to the end of their metal body - for his school project last year.
Moving the grinder in a circular motion with one hand causes the weight to spin around it and activate the grinder at the bottom.
As the grinding process uses centripetal force which pulls towards the centre, Mr Salim says less effort is required from the user compared with conventional grinders.
The ingredients inside are pushed against the wall of the grinder housing, causing them to be crushed and exit from an opening at the bottom.
And all this is done with only one hand on the grinder.
Mr Salim says the design was inspired by the children's toy called the wooden rattle which, ironically, he did not play with because he "found it too noisy".