The Bold and the Beautiful


From a tractor in the field to a bagel slicer in the kitchen, the products we use at work and at home are increasingly designed with beauty as well as utility in mind. That is the emphasis in this year’s awards of excellence announced recently by the Industrial Designers Society of America.

Good design is emerging on its own in every possible product category, said jury chair Bill Stumpf, saluting the entries for their confidence and maturity. “Gone was the sense of striving you used to get from design,” he said as the jurors handed out gold, silver and bronze awards to 113 products out of 932 entries. Not only does high-quality industrial design characterize home electronics and transportation vehicles, it is also evident in kitchen appliances, toys and sporting goods, and extends to such humble items as a battery-operated pencil sharpener.

“This year’s winners show that companies are finding industrial design is not limited to high-end products,” said IDSA spokeswoman Kristina Goodrich. “Designers are so good at innovation and some of these are humble products.” She cited the simple baby tub with netting that suspends like a hammock to hold the infant. “It should be easy to make a $50,000 baby tub, but one that Wal-Mart will sell for $20 is a real challenge.”