Designs for Good at the Design Museum’s Design of the Year 2018

The Design Museum has always been a source of inspiration for me, and a chance to document current cultural focuses in design. This year’s Design of the Year 2018 exhibition saw a notable increase in sustainable work, and design for good. Below are my favourite four entries for this year’s award.  

Trash Isles 


Trash Isles won the Graphics award – and for good reason. They took the UN’s legislation on what defined a country and completely spun it on its head. Their aim: to make an area of trash in the sea, the size of France, a country. By doing so, there would then be a legal responsibility for other governments in the UN to clean it up. 

Trash Isle, the group responsible for cerating the “Trash Isles” campaign, used their graphics to give a strength to their project, giving the isles its own stamps, passport and currency.  

This campaign used humour to its strengths, with the seemingly impossible task of turning a pile of rubbish into a country, the campaign was popularised in the media and gained interest and awareness in the public domain.  

See their interview with the design museum.

Small is Meaningful by  Design Trust Futures Studio

This project by Design Trust Futures Studio incorporated micro-parks in Hong Kong, as a response to the lack of public spaces.  

The Microparks ranged from portable seating which hung from railings, to a childrens’ playground built from a converted skip!  

I was moved by the cheap use of resources and the idea that small campaigns can still have a large social impact. The micro-parks became public points of interest which in turn allowed the public to rest, recharge and reengage by talking to new people.  



Surgibox won the people’s choice award. It was a portable operating tent with the aim of being used in remote areas which had limited access to healthcare situations. The base of the tent had a flap which opened onto the area of the patient’s body which needed to be operated on.  

This piece stuck with me going forward in the exhibition, for its possibilities to improve healthcare in remote areas. There is something poignant to be said about the fact that a majority of the public felt this way too.  

ENEA walking stick 


The ENEA walking stick was created by Shiro Studio in collaboration with Arup UK and MHOX. It aimed to give dignity to those who might need assistance with walking. The stick, 3D printed in an elegant design, is designed to be beautiful and increase the mobility for the user. It can also support itself standing, making it a stand-alone object to be admired as well as a functional piece.  

It is now becoming more and more essential for designers to consider the social and environmental impact of their work. The most meaningful and memorable designs in this year’s show were the ones which were easily integrated into everyday society. This exhibition shows us that designs for good can also be visually strong, meaningful and award winning. Designs for good are good! 

Sophia Luu