Asif Khan, Mischer’Traxler, and Studio Juju Win W Hotels ‘Designers of the Future’ Award

Asif Khan’s “Harvest” (2010), which used London’s flowering foliage as a raw material for furniture production.

With less than two months to go before the Swiss blitz of Art Basel, the organizers of Design Miami/ Basel have announced the winners of the 2011 W Hotels Designers of the Future Award: Asif Khan (London), mischer’traxler (Vienna), and Studio Juju (Singapore). The three up and coming design firms will each create a new object or series based upon this year’s designated theme of “Conversation Pieces.” Expect works that “encourage people to overcome social barriers while also sparking conversations between strangers.” After making their debut at Design Miami/ Basel, the commissioned projects will get people talking at W Hotels worldwide.

“With this year’s award, we wanted to highlight the young design vanguard while exploring works that are intentionally interactive,” said Design Miami/ director Marianne Goebl in a statement announcing the winners, who share an experimental and multi-disciplinary approach demonstrated in projects ranging from flowering furniture and laser-cut stationery to a Spirograph-like cake decorating machine and a cell phone with an undulating surface inspired by fruit trays. The 2011 Designers of the Future were selected by an international jury that included Aric Chen (Beijing Design Week), Li Edelkoort (Edelkoort Inc.), Konstantin Grcic (KGID), and Zoe Ryan (The Art Institute of Chicago). Qualifying candidates must have been practicing for less than 15 years and have produced a body of work—in the fields of furniture, lighting, craft, architecture and/or digital/electronic media—that demonstrates originality in the creative process, while also exhibiting an interest in working in experimental, nonindustrial, or limited-edition design.