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2005 IDEA Awards

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The IDEA, or Industrial Design Excellence Award, winners have been posted, and they are…. well… slightly boring. Some of them, anyway. I guess that’s what happens when you award 158 products!

There are some neat designs, however, and the TOPTURN X Self-propelled Compost Turner is one of them, a Gold winner in Business & Industrial Products.

Programmable thermostats do offer the ability to set a range of allowable temperatures, and I’m not sure how the Johnson Controls 9100 Series Environmental Room Control Sensors accomplishes the same thing, but I’m impressed by the simplicity. I just hope it’s not over-simplicity. I like to “set it and forget it,” not turn a knob periodically. Another Gold winner.

The Mac mini! I can’t argue with making the Mac mini a Gold winner in Computer Equipment, though I’m slightly skeptical about the JBL OnStage, a Silver winner in the same category. The BenQ LCD Monitor Crazy Arm “only” scored a Bronze, but a win is still a win, right?

When it comes to Consumer Products, Gold winner Stanley FatMax Hacksaw (hey, wasn’t he in that movie…) tempts me to say that hacksaws can be taken no further than this. It’s beautiful and apparenly very functional as well. But I know better than to make easily-refuted claims, so I’ll save them for iPod shuffle, which is clearly perfect. Well, except that I suppose that it could hold 200GB and be $5.

I suppose the Gold-winning CafeSolo coffee-maker would work well if you poured the coffee right away, but I remember from using a French Press that you shouldn’t let the water mingle with the ground for more than four minutes. The CafeSolo unit appears to leave the grounds there — unless I’m missing something. I hope they’ve resolved that.

I used a very early predecessor of the Silver-winning HP Photosmart 375 Portable Printer and was impressed then. I’ve recently been even more impressed by HP’s latest batch of photo printers. Built-in displays, beautiful prints, what’s not to love?

I think that the 3D Mechanical Puzzle might not work so smoothly after it has been thrown against a few walls, but perhaps it does. I love the idea, and after reading this, I want to seek one out to see the execution.

A Self-watering flowerpot? I want several, thanks. Of course, after seeing the design, I think I could make these pretty easily.

The Full Contact Spice Grinder is so simple. And I want one, now. How can the design of something as old as a mortar-and-pestle scream “buy me”? This should have been a Gold winner, I think.

Insert Tim Allen-style grunting noises here, since Bronze winner Hitachi DS18DMR 18 Volt Driver Drill appeals to some part of me I don’t completely understand. It oozes power and beauty in exactly the way that fellow Bronze winner Rubbermaid Paint Buddy doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong — I’m impressed by the idea and execution of the Paint Buddy, especially if it manages to keep the paint from drying out, but the Paint Buddy just seems more… feminine. Not that that’s a bad thing.

PerfectDraft is only a Bronze winner? Does it only dispense domestic beer, or something?

You’ve got your levels with bubbles, and you’ve got your chalk-stained strings, but now you’ve got the Stanley S2 Laser Level Square, which takes making straight things to a whole new level. Another nice Bronze winner.

Wasn’t Initech the name of the company in Office Space? I’ll try not to hold it against the Initech GEOLOGIC, a “leisure bow,” as in archery, as in bow-and-arrow. After all, the French have maybe not seen Office Space.

How does a bicycle require no tensioning or lubrication? Even though it looks… odd, I want to check out the iXi Bike just to find the answer to that question. I’m less interested in the Shift Concept Bicycle, even though it is a Gold winner in Design Explorations, because I want my kid to suffer and fall like I did, using traditional training wheels. No, not really.

A lot of the Design Explorations category is just craziness. Concepts that will never see the light of day, impractical and useless. Of course, they’re neat, too. Especially the Jeep Hurricane. I’m just saying.

I don’t know anything about ImageNet, but since they’re right here in my hometown and have won a Silver award for Environments, I suppose I should stop by their environment to check them out. At least that was I won’t have to travel all the way to Downtown Kansas City to see the Bronze-winning parking garage. Too bad, really, since the parking garage looks sweet.

I’ve got a relative I want to see — no, not “see” — test the Kohler Purist Hatbox Toilet. It may be a Gold winner in Furniture, but I bet this relative can plug it up, and what good is a pretty toilet then?

This must be a joke. The Leviton Acenti has light switches that don’t switch! That is, they perform the expected function, but then they all look the same, whether on or off. You have to use a tiny blue LED to see what switch position would easily communicate from across the room. And they see this as an improvement? I don’t think so.

I have doubts about Gold winner (in Packaging & Graphics) 1-2 Paint, too. One of things I like about paint trays is that multiple people can work from the same bucket of paint, each with their own tray. In fact, I can have a bucket (slightly heavy, potentially very heavy) in the middle of the room and restock my paint tray as I need it around the edges. With 1-2 Paint, I would apparently need to either carry the bucket around with me or walk back to the center of the room every time I needed more paint on my roller. Even with a dripless roller, I’m seeing a much greater potential for spillage.

It’s not all disappointment in Packaging & Graphics, however, as Bronze winner Clorox/Armor All Wipes Dispensing Closure looks like it solves a real problem elegantly.

Even students get in on the action with Student Designs. One Gold winner is called Spotlight the music and touch the light, which combines a lamp, a CD player, and a virtual control panel. I’m a little curious about how the LED-projected control panel works from above, since it seems it would be hard to tell a hit on the surface from a near miss above it.

I’ve seen another Gold-winning Student Design on cartoons before, including one of my kids’ favorite Silly Symphonies. The I/O Brush absorbs the color and texture of one surface to paint on another. The painting-on part is still virtual, for now.

Go ahead, check all the winners out for yourself. Maybe you’ll find some wonderful treasures I simply don’t “get.”

(This review first appeared at W6 Daily, as strange and wonderful things often do.)

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About pwinn

  • Good report, Philip – some interesting stuff there

  • Thanks, Aaman. I’ve started checking out the prices on some of these things, and I now realize that most of these award-winners are out of my budget range.

    I’m sad.

  • The 3D mechanical puzzle looks ordinary. It might be incredibly fun and puzzling, but it looks ugly.

  • I think that the intriguing part is that it moves well in all directions without catching. At least that’s what the description sounds like. Rubik’s Cube was marvelously designed like that, as was Rubik’s Tangle.

    If the puzzle actually works as smoothly as it is described, I’ll be impressed.

  • I looked up the address for ImageNet, and it turns out they are only a few blocks from my office. I guess I’ll have to pretend I’m in the market for a copier, or something.