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The designers and manufacturers of this year’s iF DESIGN AWARD have a sharp eye for putting the user first. Their human-centered designs solve real-world problems for people.
Making people’s lives easier with practical yet beautiful designs is one of the highest goals for designers. And it is precisely in times of crisis that practical solutions are more in demand than ever before. The corona pandemic is probably the best example of our society’s demand to innovate as quickly as possible to stop exponential growth in the numbers of citizens infected by the virus – after all, health and economic systems can collapse under a virus spread easily.
So how do you innovate quickly and
appropriately when people’s behavior and expectations are changing fast and
much? Human-centered design offers a solution: It’s a "user first" approach, a
design process mindset that is based on an explicit understanding of needs,
motivation and problems which people experience in everyday life. This year’s
edition of the iF DESIGN AWARD offers a wide range of products and projects
across disciplines and categories that boost holistic human-centered designs.
The awarded designers and manufacturers have a sharp eye for not just only innovative but readily acceptable solutions. They are driven by the idea to satisfy customers in a way that when people leave a product a positive “human” experience should remain and they should tell their friends and family about it. In the end, this approach leads to a better product that solves relevant problems for people through which they built trust and loyality in this brand.
There has been a strong shift from analog to digital, particularly in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, which is likely to stay. The number of technology users increased throughout all age groups due to social distancing and containment measurements. Future-oriented designs that are practical during this time of the pandemic, when hygiene is of essence, are small gadgets such as the "miniJ H1" disinfection device and the "Infinite circle", a sterilization concept that lets you disinfect the surface of an e-scooter.
Companies are already investing vast amounts of money to bring tomorrow's technology to the world. As a result, expectations for inventions are high, and the tolerance level for physical workarounds decreases. Human-centered designs deliver hybrid solutions and may save time and money in many cases. Particularly in the view of tensions between people and health systems, innovative technology eliminate the need for lengthy health tests and elaborate procedures. Take, for example, the "OMRON NightView" blood pressure monitor: a minimal device that takes away the stress of an otherwise uncomfortable night. When human-centered designs can even stigmatization and isolation, a lot has been achieved for patients. For instance, the gold awarded "Female Brace" is a medical brace that helps teenage girls with pectus carinatum correct their posture for better physical and mental health.
While intelligent technology and impeccable design are crucial, safety always comes first. Especially in the area of mobility, there’s a significant disadvantage for elderly and disabled people. Enhancing users’ confidence so they can go about their daily lives with peace of mind is what human-centered design is all about. Among the many exciting products featuring futuristic elements is the "UNAwheel Maxi", a wheelchair power add-on that makes it easier for disabled people to navigate. It also features a welcoming modern and sleek look. Steering entirely away from the usual design of a wheelchair is the "Intelligent Mobility Scooter". Every day, we face many challenges – holistic, human-centered solutions meet our most pressing needs while enriching our lives.
(published in May 2021)