INDEX Award Roundup: Invisible Bike Helmets, Design for Change, Social Housing, Design Seoul


Winners of the 2011 INDEX:Award take the stage at a ceremony held yesterday at the Copenhagen Opera House. (Photo courtesy INDEX: Design to Improve Life)

Having whittled down 966 entries from 78 countries to 60 finalists, an esteemed jury (chaired by Arup’s Nille Juul-Sorensen, it includes designer Hella Jongerius and Paola Antonelli of the Museum of Modern Art) has selected the five life-improving design projects that are the recipients of this year’s INDEX: Award. The top picks in five categories—body, home, work, play, and community—were announced yesterday at a gala ceremony held at the Copenhagen Opera House (not only was it designed by Henning Larsen, it’s on an island), where the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark were on hand to congratulate the winners, who each received €100,000 (approximately $144,000).

You may recall that Yves Béhar emerged victorious in the Body category for See Better to Learn Better, a program he and his fuseproject team created in partnership with Augen Optics and the Mexican Government to design and distribute free eyeglasses to schoolchildren in Mexico. Coming out on top in the home category was another Mexico-based project: Elemental Monterrey, a new model for social housing. Along similar lines, Design Seoul bested the rest in the community category with its pioneering design-based approach to improve life in a very large city. Design for Change, a competition that gives children an opportunity to express and implement their ideas for a better world, won in the work category. And novel biking gear triumphed in the play-ing field, with Malmö, Sweden-based Hövding taking the prize for its airbags for cyclists’ heads. The sensor-embedded, invisible helmets are worn as collars and wouldn’t look out of place on the runways of Alexander Wang (when deflated) or Alexander McQueen (when inflated).