Johnny Apple SandalWith the Johnny Apple Sandal, San Francisco-based LIFT converts New Age earnestness into stealth ecology. Seeds implanted in the sandals are dispersed through their soles, making a virtue of wear and tear: The older the shoe gets, the more plant life it spreads. Kennedy liked the “perverse yet witty idea of spreading seeds like urban burrs.” The sandals bring a poetic approach to the idea of land reclamation that is slow, random, and highly personal. The jurors agreed that, ideally, consumers should be able to choose the seeds their sandals would sow. That way they’d be able to trace their own pathways as they flower, transforming the shoes into what Rockwell fantasized as “a delightful, low-tech GPS system.”
Design Design LIFT (San Francisco): Eric Bergman, Karson Shadley, Pichaya Puttorngul, Nick Cronan, Amit Mirchandani, Tory Cross, designersMaterials Crepe natural rubber outsole; cork midsole; leather upper and footbedSoftware Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop; Alias Studio
Net WorthNet Worth plays with the idea that your most powerful trait isn’t your hair color, height, sharp wit, or devastating good looks: It’s the magnetic stripe on your debit card. A twist on keeping up with the Joneses, Santa Monica designer Osman Khan’s installation doesn’t actually compare your financial assets with your global neighbors’, but it does use the credit card to gauge your status in cyberspace. A swipe of plastic and you’re “Googled.” The number of hits your name elicits determines where it will appear on the Net Worth screen—the 21st-century Social Register where you find yourself ranked among politicians, celebrities, professional competitors, and friends. The jury liked the way Net Worth co-opted the cash machine as the trigger for its deadpan data projection. “The clever thing is that it speaks to the utility of ATMs,” Kennedy remarked. Rockwell observed that the project’s “strength is its critical idea, not its formal design.” But its physical blandness serves to highlight the critique of Internet exhibitionism, and of a culture where information rules over verification.
Design Osman Khan (Santa Monica, CA)Software Custom software
Relax to Win SensorThe counterintuitive notion of using technology to calm down, not rev up, drew the jury’s unanimous praise (and thinly disguised longings). The Netherlands think-tank-cum-design-company Philips created a scenario in which a skin sensor picks up emotional signals and sends diagnoses wirelessly to your cell phone. Players compete with their own adrenalin and win by lowering stress levels. Obsessive-compulsive technology mates with the wellness culture to become the new odd couple in the gaming universe. That the arranged marriage is embodied in a pink hourglass-shaped sensor was duly noted. “It has a Gummi Bear quality—great form, great color,” observed Sellers, who likened the device to a “technological rabbit’s foot or worry beads.” And where other games offer bonus points, this one doubles as jewelry when it’s not monitoring endorphins.
Design Jack Mama, creative director, Philips Design (Eindhoven, Netherlands)Client Orange Personal Communications Services (London)Software Rhinoceros 3D; proprietary computerized looms
Devo Underwear and PackagingSmall and intimate, this entry “solves a high-volume, everyday problem,” Sellers noted. Designed by Yves Béhar of Fuseproject, Devo is a symbiotic suite of underwear and packaging. T-shirts come in T-shirt-shaped packages; briefs and boxers in packages shaped like briefs and boxers. Not only do you see what you get, but you get to wash away the outer wrapper. Made entirely from cornstarch, the sheath also contains a small amount of detergent so the entire purchase can be washed. You have the satisfaction of knowing your underwear is clean and that you dissolved its packaging instead of throwing it in the trash. As Kennedy punned, “It puts a little humor into the spin cycle.”
Design Fuseproject (San Francisco): Yves Béhar, founder, principal; Johan Liden, Angie Tadeo, designersMaterials Biodegradable cornstarchSoftware Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator; Alias NT station