Here's our quick snapshot of what we see in the 1,813 designs up for The Index Award 2019!
BODY (417 nominations) 'Woman' is the word in BODY. This year, we have an overwhelming amount of solutions nominated to make womanhood 'easier', from cutting-edge period solutions to at-home fertility testing. Mental health and loneliness are also standout challenges and are being tackled with robots, digital avatars and apps. In addition to the use of VR, AR, facial recognition and big data, there's also an emerging movement focussed on analysing our genomes for predictive and highly tailored healthcare. Other prevalent trends include digital 'skins', sustainable cosmetics, and alternative textiles made from spiders silk, coffee grounds, fruit and more.
HOME (291 nominations) Apparently, we’re all losing sleep. But, thankfully, designers are coming up with all kinds of clever solutions, from sleep-inducing lighting to digital detox apps, to ease our insomnia. In HOME, we’re also seeing plenty of chatbots and AI solutions to tackle domestic violence, homelessness and social justice challenges. "Accessible living" is another interesting movement, which comprises mostly small, simple and inexpensive product hacks to improve every life at home for the disabled. Once again, designers are also focussed on improving air indoor quality, reducing plastic use and developing low-cost sanitary solutions.
WORK (232 nominations) Design for WORK has turned its attention to bees and supporting the workforce tasked with keeping our little yellow fuzzy friends happy and healthy. In the same boat, more sustainable and ethical ways of fishing farming and agriculture are top of mind. And, in the wake of the #metoo movement, we've also seen several solutions to boost employment opportunities for women, as well as combat harassment and grievance at work. Similar to previous years, designers are also focussed on developing exoskeletons and wearables for physical labour, energy-efficient vehicles, robotics and smart medical devices.
PLAY & LEARNING (246 nominations) When it comes to PLAY & LEARNING, this year, we're seeing all kinds of research campaigns, design installations and short films. These aim to raise awareness on important issues and gather new data to speed-up technology development. Other interesting trends include purposeful fonts, designed for the visually impaired, dyslexic and forgetful, and, board games —a refreshing change from apps— to provide more hands-on learning experiences. 'Smart’ leisure clothing and wearables are also at the top, from solar charged-jackets, clothes that react to air quality and contact lenses that can take photos. The category was also brimming with online games and VR solutions focused on medical education and emergency response planning.
COMMUNITY (627 nominations) How do we improve our digital lives? COMMUNITY has the answer. Specifically, designers are coming up with new ways to foster useful online debate, combat fake news and maintain our privacy. There are also several off-beat and intriguing ideas to tackle the effects of climate change, such as floating communities, climate refugee visas and more. We're seeing a spike in faux animal products, such as 'meats', fabrics and synthetic collagens for cosmetics. And, finally, we're still seeing plenty of clean transport and energy solutions, natural disaster prediction and alert systems, as well as insect products - like beer, burger patties and oils.
Stay tuned for more news on #designtoimprovelife trends in 2019 -- or, if you can't wait until then, check out all our INDEX: Award 2019 nominees right here.