When it comes to design, Apple may be the gold standard, but these winning companies may well go platinum.
Selected by the Best In Class judging panel from a field of more than 150 nominations, each of these seven products demonstrates exceptional functionality, a top quality design ethic, superior workmanship, and an innovative approach to solving problems--both eternal and modern.
DESIGNER Mike St. Pierre, CEO
PRODUCT LAUNCHED June 1, 2013
WHY? For backpackers, 1.25 pounds of reduced weight means they can carry 1.25 pounds of something else--food, water, but probably just more beer. The shelter doesn't absorb rain, which also reduces carry weight, more music to backpackers' ears.
DESIGNER Robin DeFay, president; Erik Groset, director of operations; Justin Liu, director of technology
PRODUCT LAUNCHED November 20, 2013
WHY? How do you tie the world's strongest knot? Put your headphones in your pocket and wait five minutes. Headphones snarl. Sometimes, it seems as if that's what they're designed to do. Zipbuds's design is simple and obvious in retrospect, and that's what the judges liked about it.
Sales of stereo headphones in the United States amounted to $2.3 billion in 2013. It's unclear what portion of that was driven by the need to replace headphones whose cables had become impossibly tangled.
DESIGNER Pensa, Brooklyn, New York
PRODUCT LAUNCHED May 15, 2013
WHY? After a disaster like Superstorm Sandy, the need for accessible phone-charging stations became abundantly clear. Combine that with the low carbon footprint, social design, and off-the-grid technology of Street Charge, and you've got an amazing device that can enable both mobile communication and face-to-face human interaction.
DESIGNER Eric Fairbanks, KOR industrialdesigner, and the KOR Water team
PRODUCT LAUNCHED October 5, 2013
WHY? Plastic bottles are contributing to a worldwide waste problem. KOR designed a water bottle that filters water to improve taste and reduces plastic-bottle consumption.
DESIGNER Brandon Williams, co-founder
PRODUCT LAUNCHED February 15, 2014
WHY? Everyone likes an outdoor fireplace, but Solfire's design takes the typical outdoor fireplace to a new level. Solfire's steel ring is perforated to let light and shadow dance in the environment, encouraging people to gather round, share a story, and stay warm.
DESIGNER Martin Keen, co-founder and CEO
PRODUCT LAUNCHED February 1, 2014
WHY? Recent studies have shown that sitting at a desk for extended periods of time has serious effects on one's health, but standing all day is really tiring. Enter the Sphere Workstation, which solves the problem by allowing you to perch instead. The design relies on an adjustable-height desk and a specially designed stool that doesn't allow you to fully sit.
DESIGNER In-house design team
PRODUCT LAUNCHED September 3, 2013
WHY? In the past, greening a commercial fleet generally meant purchasing new vehicles. The XL3 Hybrid Drive changes that. The system helps companies meet sustainability goals and lower operating costs. The XL3 drive system delivers an impressive 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption, 19 percent to 24 percent increase in vehicle power, and 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions. Big customers such as Coca-Cola and FedEx have added the technology to some of their fleet vehicles.