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Innovative Design Projects During a Pandemic

The pandemic has changed daily life for all of us – creative ideas are needed quickly all over the world in the fight against the coronavirus. These innovative, practical design projects in the times of a pandemic are among the winners of the iF DESIGN AWARD 2021.

The last year turned our world upside down. But it also brought people together, right from the very beginning, to find solutions to all the problems. In addition to system-relevant professions, design and architecture professionals have become active in their fields of work – and are trying to do everything they can to help us find our way back to a new normal as quickly as possible.

iF award-winning designs 2021

MAC WARD is a mobile intensive care unit that meets the highest healthcare standards. Based on individual components, it can be transported by air and positioned flexibly to provide optimal patient care.
MAC WARD | Manufacturer: Fu Jen Catholic University Hospital, New Taipei City, Taiwan

MAC WARD is a mobile intensive care unit that meets the highest healthcare standards. Based on individual components, it can be transported by air and positioned flexibly to provide optimal patient care.

Specially designed to fit Chinese children, this active mask has an adjustable head strap for improved fitting and comfort. It features a powerful Air Power fresh air system together with customized Air Mesh fabric to reduce exhalation resistance and improve breathing comfort.
Philips Kids Fresh Air Mask | Manufacturer: Philips, Eindhoven, Netherlands

Specially designed to fit Chinese children, this active mask has an adjustable head strap for improved fitting and comfort. It features a powerful Air Power fresh air system together with customized Air Mesh fabric to reduce exhalation resistance and improve breathing comfort.

Hydroxyl Aura is a portable air purifier. Hydroxyl radicals are used to envelop the user in a cloud of sterile air – in the fight against the coronavirus, but also against global air pollution.
Hydroxyl Aura | Manufacturer: Hydroxyl Technologies Limited, Bristol, United Kingdom

Hydroxyl Aura is a portable air purifier. Hydroxyl radicals are used to envelop the user in a cloud of sterile air – in the fight against the coronavirus, but also against global air pollution.

The Honeywell 3D Knit Mask is convincing proof that maximum hygiene and good design do not have to be mutually exclusive – on the contrary: the 3D knit mask has been designed with a futuristic look to make health masks more acceptable to the general public in everyday life.
Honeywell 3D Knit Mask | Manufacturer: Honeywell Design Group, Shanghai, China

The Honeywell 3D Knit Mask is convincing proof that maximum hygiene and good design do not have to be mutually exclusive – on the contrary: the 3D knit mask has been designed with a futuristic look to make health masks more acceptable to the general public in everyday life.

The Kare : Mobile Clinic Module is an innovative isolation unit and thanks to air tents and a negative pressure frame, it can be used anywhere it is needed.
KARE : Mobile Clinic Module | Manufacturer: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology - KAIST, Daejeon, South Korea

The Kare : Mobile Clinic Module is an innovative isolation unit and thanks to air tents and a negative pressure frame, it can be used anywhere it is needed.

The Pandemic Design System communicates the most important everyday recommendations in the fight against the pandemic in a clear and simple way. Because international characters are used, the instructions can be understood by anyone.
Pandemic Design System | Manufacturer: Peter Schmidt Group, Hamburg, Germany

The Pandemic Design System communicates the most important everyday recommendations in the fight against the pandemic in a clear and simple way. Because international characters are used, the instructions can be understood by anyone.

The Wearable Air Purifier Mask combines the latest technology with the highest safety standards and modern design: the mask is electronic and is able to block out viruses and other disease-causing agents. Rechargeable sterilization case is included!
Wearable Air Purifier Mask | Manufacturer: LG Electronics, Seoul, South Korea

The Wearable Air Purifier Mask combines the latest technology with the highest safety standards and modern design: the mask is electronic and is able to block out viruses and other disease-causing agents. Rechargeable sterilization case is included!

Thanks to its simple design, the Avoir Tankless Toilet is easy to clean and not having a tank also makes it particularly easy to install. With no need for power from the grid, this battery-powered toilet can be set up virtually anywhere.
Avoir Tankless Toilet | Manufacturer: Kohler Company, Kohler, United States

Thanks to its simple design, the Avoir Tankless Toilet is easy to clean and not having a tank also makes it particularly easy to install. With no need for power from the grid, this battery-powered toilet can be set up virtually anywhere.

TOQUE is an innovative design that enables direct care in an otherwise isolated quarantine unit: thanks to UV sterilization and the latest communication elements, nursing staff can easily and safely interact with COVID-19 patients and even hand over necessary utensils.
TOQUE | Manufacturer: KAIST CIDR Lab., Daejeon, South Korea

TOQUE is an innovative design that enables direct care in an otherwise isolated quarantine unit: thanks to UV sterilization and the latest communication elements, nursing staff can easily and safely interact with COVID-19 patients and even hand over necessary utensils.

The LG 360 Air Purifier is an advanced air purifier that filters pollutants from the air and provides better indoor air quality – not only in times of Corona.
LG 360 Air Purifier | Manufacturer: LG Electronics Inc., Seoul, South Korea

The LG 360 Air Purifier is an advanced air purifier that filters pollutants from the air and provides better indoor air quality – not only in times of Corona.

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Designers are used to thinking creatively and designing innovatively. During a pandemic, however, it comes down to finding solutions to problems we probably never expected. And there is no time for years of trying and testing. Quick and, above all, safe solutions are what is needed!

In addition to the rapid spread of the virus, the pandemic brought the many different problems in the healthcare system to light: in addition to the lack of qualified nursing staff, these include not enough intensive care beds and an overall outdated medical infrastructure in many countries. To contain the pandemic, the motto from the beginning was: Keep your distance, observe the rules of hygiene, wear a mask every day.

The first design trends in the wake of the pandemic are already emerging from these medical recommendations: Wearing a hygiene mask, operating things without touching them, and effectively cleaning indoor air are important components of a successful hygiene concept.

YURI induction urinal | Manufactures: Guangdong Lehua Intelligent Sanitary Ware, ARROW Home Group Inc., Foshan, China  This gold awarded urinal is specially designed for public toilets where easy cleaning and maximum hygiene are top priorities. The porcelain surface is treated with a self-cleaning glaze, which gives it an antibacterial effect (see image above).


Hygiene is one of the most important design topics in the year 2021 in the category of Product Design. Never before have there been so many entries that deal with nursing care and health. This year’s iF design winners include not one, but several mask projects, such as the "Philips Kids Fresh Air Mask" or the "Honeywell 3D Knit Mask", and a total of 27 air purifiers.

The design projects differentiate between preventive care and the care of patients who are already ill: Pioneering technologies are the basis for such creative products as "Hydroxyl Aura", an air purifier that can be worn on the body, or the electronic mask, the "Wearable Air Purifier Mask".  Innovative projects like the mobile isolation unit, "MAC WARD", an air-tight system with a negative pressure function, and the "Kare Mobile Clinic Module", which can be shipped by airplane, help to treat patients as quickly as possible and relieve intensive care units. No one knows how long the pandemic will last. One thing is certain: The latest technologies and a heightened awareness of hygiene will continue to play a major role in product design in the future.

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(published in May 2021)