DESIGN

2014 Best In Class Awards: Meet the Finalists

The competition in this year's first ever Design Awards was downright fierce. See which products made it to the finals.

Editor’s Note: Vote for your pick among the winners of Inc.'s Best In Class Awards for today's best-designed American-made products. Inc.com announces the Reader’s Choice winner Friday, May 30.

Inc.'s first ever Best In Class Awards, honoring beautiful design and brilliant solutions, received more than 150 nominations, an astonishing number considering the short nomination window and the fact that this was the first year for the Awards. The finalists you're about to meet were selected by the design and editorial teams here at Inc. during several rounds of voting. In April, the finalists in each category were presented to our distinguished panel of design industry heavyweights, who chose the category winners. We congratulate all the finalists on their hard work, creativity and especially their insightful, beautiful designs. 

1 / 21
Office
Stop hunching over your desk. This ergonomic workspace from Focal Upright finds the halfway point between sitting and standing, substituting the traditional chair with a special seat designed for leaning against. The 78-inch desk is both height and incline adjustable to fit the user’s needs, making it easy to optimize comfort while working.
Headquarters: Portsmouth, R.I.
Product: Sphere Workstation
Price: $3,099

2 / 21
Accessories
This six piece shaving kit is specially engineered to fit the health and grooming needs of people of color. While the standard multi-blade razor cuts hair beneath the skin, often causing coarse, curly hair to become ingrown, Bevel’s single-blade razor cuts close to the surface, providing a clean shave without the bumps and irritation. An array of balms and creams complete the package, helping users to protect, hydrate and repair their skin.
Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.
Product: Bevel
Price: $59.95
3 / 21
A reusable alternative to bottled water, the KOR Nava Water Bottle comes with a built-in filter to improve ordinary tap water's taste. Its sleek design includes a one-handed push-button cap to protect the mouthpiece from outside germs. By opting into a subscription service, Nava users can have new filters delivered to them automatically, making it easy to always have fresh tasting water on the go.
Headquarters: Aliso Viejo, Calif.
Product: KOR Nava Water Bottle
Price: $29.95

4 / 21
For an overnight bag that’s stylish, durable and American-made, look no further than the Kennedy Duffle. The 18-ounce duffle bag is crafted from water-resistant canvas and its handles are leather-reinforced for extra comfort. Each bag comes with a lifetime warranty so that quality is always guaranteed.
Headquarters: New York, N.Y.
Product: Kennedy Duffle
Price: $105
5 / 21
This phone case eliminates the need for cords and adapters, allowing users to plug their smartphones directly into an outlet for on-the-go charging. The PocketPlug is made of durable polycarbonate with a rubber finish to help protect phones against damage, with retractable plugs that fold inside the case while not in use. Though the case is currently only available for iPhones, a version fitted for the Samsung Galaxy III is coming soon.
Headquarters: New York, N.Y.
Product: Prong PocketPlug
Price: $69.95

6 / 21
Research has shown that carrying your cell phone in your pocket exposes you to a form of radiation that can allegedly cause infertility and other reproductive health problems. EM Shield aims to deflect harmful radiation with its protective Pocket Patch. The patch can be easily ironed into the lining of any pocket, making it possible to carry your phone without risking your health.
Headquarters: Culver City, Calif.
Product: EM Shield Pocket Patch
Price: $19.97

7 / 21
Recreation
Hyperlite Mountain Gear specializes in producing ultra-light outdoor equipment that weighs half the industry standard. The Ultramid tent is no exception, with its four-person size weighing in at just over a pound. With fabric made of non-absorbent Cuben fiber, this durable pyramid shelter is 100 percent waterproof, guaranteeing lightweight protection against the elements.
Headquarters: Biddeford, Maine
Product: HMG Ultramid 4 Tent
Price: $825
8 / 21
Need to charge your phone while off the grid? Just add water. Half thermoelectric generator, half cooking pot, the PowerPot V can power any USB device without the hassle of gas or batteries. For a reliable source of outdoor electricity, just boil liquid over a stove or fire and let the PowerPot V do the rest.
Headquarters: Salt Lake City
Product: PowerPot V
Price: $149

9 / 21
This set of twenty-six sand sifters is designed to help preschoolers learn their ABCs in a way that’s fun and engaging. Each sifter is double-sided with an upper- and lower-case letter appearing on one side and an image on the other. Children can flip their sifters over to learn that "A" is for Apple, "B" is for Boat, "C" is for Car and all the rest.
Headquarters: Carson, Calif.
Product name: Alphabet Mystery Sifters
Price: $59.99
10 / 21
Home
Modfire is reinventing the outdoor fireplace with designs that epitomize form without sacrificing function. Its latest model, Solfire, surrounds a stainless steel burner with a patterned fire screen that plays with light and shadow. Crafted from durable plate steel and available in seven different colors, this propane and natural gas fireplace is both pretty and practical.
Headquarters: Phoenix
Product: Solfire Fireplace
Price: $1250
11 / 21
Cocktail parties are made for mingling, but when you have a plate in one hand and a drink in the other, it’s an awkward juggling act just to eat, let alone shake anyone’s hand. The Holdaplate makes it possible to hold your cake and eat it, too. Designed with a groove for your index finger, this innovative cocktail plate provides an effortless method for one-handed food-and-drink holding, freeing up the other for eating and greeting.
Headquarters: New York, N.Y.
Product: Holdaplate
Price: $6.99-$19.99

12 / 21
A whimsical spin on traditional porcelain dinner plates, this Kickstarter-launched dishware series disrupts the classic tranquil countryside image with scenes of impending doom. Flying monkeys hover in the corner of one Calamityware dish, while a giant robot approaches in another. The plates are food safe, microwave safe and dishwasher safe, so that the only calamity is the one occurring in the design.
Headquarters: Pittsburgh
Product: Calamityware
Price: $30-39
13 / 21
Audio + Visual
CHIPS is Outdoor Tech’s solution for snow enthusiasts who want to use their mobile devices while on the mountain. The hands-free wireless Bluetooth audio system fits easily into any ski or snowboard helmet with an audio liner, making it possible to listen to music or talk on the phone without ever having to remove your gloves or take your phone out of your pocket.
Headquarters: Los Angeles
Product: CHIPS
Price: $129.95
14 / 21
Stop wasting time untangling earbuds. Zipbuds Juiced 2.0 headphones substitute traditional, easily tangled wires with innovative zipper cabling that can be zipped up or down to fit the user’s needs. The earbuds are specially shaped for a secure and comfortable fit, minimizing ear pressure while maximizing sound quality. The fun design comes in four different colors including glow-in-the-dark.
Headquarters: San Diego
Product: Zipbuds Juiced 2.0
Price: $24.99
PHOTO: Jonathon Kambouris

15 / 21
Smartphones are increasingly becoming the go-to means for snapping photos, as amateurs and professionals alike opt for the ease and convenience of iPhone photography. Olloclip's four-in-one camera lens ups the ante, making it possible to capture beautiful images without lugging around large equipment. The lightweight lens, which clips easily onto the phone, includes wide angle and fisheye options to allow for a realm of creative possibilities--and a lot of likes on Instagram.
Headquarters: Huntington Beach, Calif.
Product: olloclip
Price: $69.99

16 / 21
Gadgets
The Keyport Slide 2.0 reinvents the keychain, consolidating keys, flash drives and bottle openers into a single device about the size of a box of Tic Tacs. Small enough to fit in your pocket, the Keyport provides easy, one-handed access to keys and tools with just the slide of a thumb. The compact, lightweight gadget is available in a variety of colors and can be personalized with a custom logo or text.
Headquarters: Las Vegas
Product: Keyport Slide 2.0
Price: $29
17 / 21
The Street Charge is exactly what it sounds like: A station for pedestrians to stop and charge their phones outside. These community-charging stations are entirely solar-powered, making for easy installation at venues ranging from parks and beaches to college campuses. Equipped with built-in USB cords, the Street Charge provides a fast and free method of powering mobile devices on the go.
Headquarters: Bluffdale, Utah
Product: Street Charge
Price: $10,000

18 / 21
This portable power pack from Goal Zero is a battery, inverter and solar kit combined in one lightweight device. The solar-powered Sherpa 100 can be used off the grid or plugged into a traditional outlet to store power for later usage. With its versatile array of ports, the power pack can fuel laptops, cell phones and other devices outdoors or in.
Headquarters: South Bluffdale, Utah
Product: Sherpa 100 Power Pack
Price: $349.99
19 / 21
Transportation
Standard motorcycle brake lights only flash when cyclists use the brake levers--not when bikers decelerate by other means, like engine breaking or downshifting. This can be dangerous, as it does not provide sufficient warning to drivers behind you that you’re slowing down. Vololights flash whenever bikers decelerate, however they decelerate. The easily installed license plate frame improves upon existing brake lights with bright LED illumination for a safer ride.
Headquarters: Oceanside, Calif.
Product: Vololights
Price: $99
20 / 21
This versatile fat bike is truly all-terrain, taking on stairs, gravel, dirt, sand, snow and ice with ease. The FTB trades out traditional gears and bike chains for a carbon-belt drive and internally geared speed hub that make it capable in even the most challenging cycling conditions. With a handmade titanium frame, it weighs in at just under four pounds, making it one of the fastest and lightest bicycles on the market.
Headquarters: Burlington, Vt.
Product: Budnitz FTB
Price: $6,990
21 / 21
The XL3 Hybrid Drive system is a sustainable way for commercial and municipal fleets to lower operating costs by incorporating electric fuel into their existing transmissions. The system leverages the driver’s normal braking and acceleration to create, store and release power to propel the vehicle. By increasing miles driven per gallon by 25 percent, the XL3 simultaneously reduces fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions for travel that’s both green and efficient.
Headquarters: Boston
Product: XL3 Hybrid Drive
Price: $8940



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