Two winners and five honourable mentions were presented and honoured at the VELUX International Design Award's ceremony at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands on 22 May 2014. Hyunjeong Kim from the Berlin University of the Arts in Germany won first prize for her project, 'Ferro Fluid Scales'. The second prize went to Iris van den Brink and Anneloes de Koff from the University of Technology in Delft in the Netherlands, for their project called 'The Swipe'.
The jury awarded the top-prize of 6,000 Euro to Hyunjeong Kim for her "comprehensive and innovative solution for roof windows," adding that her Ferro Fluid Scales is a project that shows a high level of innovation and has vision. Also technically, it is a very clever and sophisticated solution that shows a new way of thinking roof window coverings."
Hyunjeong Kim from the Berlin University of the Arts in Germany won first place in the first-ever VELUX International Design Award for her inventive blind design, titled Ferro Fluid Scales.
"I'm very excited and happy about winning the VELUX International Design Award, says Hyunjeong Kim - the VELUX awards are very famous and important awards. I'm proud to win, hoping it will be excellent for my career."
The inspiration for Ferro Fluid Scales came from the liquid Ferrofluid, which resembles black water in its natural state but becomes condensed when placed between magnetic fields. Ferro Fluid Scales integrate this scientific knowledge into an original design by containing the opaque liquid as well as a clear suspension liquid in each transparent glass blade, and allowing the user to easily increase or decrease the strength of the magnetic field – thereby controlling the amount of light that can enter through the blind.
Kim elaborates on her development process: "After researching many materials to realise my idea, I finally discovered Ferrofluid. The most important aspect of the Ferro Fluid Scales design is that the blind functions not through physical movement, but rather through the organic changes of the Ferrofluid within the thin glass panels, or scales. I added an electromagnetic unit that makes it easy to control the power to increase or decrease the amount of incoming sunlight."
Seven significant projects
The second, 2,500 Euro prize went to Iris van den Brink and Anneloes de Koff from the University of Technology in Delft in the Netherlands. Describing their gradual shading system project, The Swipe, Iris van den Brink and Anneloes de Koff explain: "Besides having a beautiful, aesthetic effect, our design is feasible because of its simplicity. All the different parts of The Swipe are standardised elements, which is why production costs can be kept low. We feel that this is in line with the VELUX vision of making great design accessible to everyone."
The jury found the project to be "a very simple but strong and innovative solution," adding that" the inside/outside solution shows an interesting way of manipulating the light."
Five teams also received honourable mentions for their projects. At the awards ceremony, all seven finalists – from design schools in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland and Hungary – presented prototypes of their designs.
Jury member Peter Zec, who founded the prestigious red dot design award, said, "Among the five projects that were nominated for an honourable mention, there were many interesting solutions. We have seen the use of new and exciting technology – for instance, using natural daylight as a night-time energy source, as well as both sustainable and technical solutions with a lot of inspiration from nature."
Selecting the winner
Settling on a favourite was a difficult task for the jury, which consisted of German Peter Zec, the Danish-Italian design duo GamFratesi and the Dutch designer and architect Petra Blaisse. With so many talented teams and exceptional projects, the jurors often found themselves at odds about the winning choice.
Jury member Petra Blaisse, known for continuously challenging the status quo with her designs, calls every finalist a winner, as they all managed to cast new light on the vast possibilities in the area of blind design – and to make the selection process challenging for the jury.
"In the winning project we saw a combination of technological intelligence, inventiveness and effectiveness. Effectiveness understood in terms of functionality – the solution doesn't force decorative design onto the user" says, Petra Blaisse when explaining the winning solution.
A new design award drives innovation
The VELUX International Design Award was established to offer aspiring design students from around Europe the opportunity to push the boundaries of what is possible to achieve at the intersection of design and technology, for blinds for roof windows. VELUX invited students to submit their ideas on the future design and composition of roof window blinds for a chance to win the VELUX International Design Award. Contestants from more than 20 European countries submitted their work, which was rated based on the criteria: 'innovation', 'improved quality of life', 'sustainability' and 'market potential'.
Kent Holm, Global Director of Decoration and Sun Screening Products at VELUX Group, was impressed with the number of inventive projects the participating teams produced – particularly the designs highlighted at the ceremony.
"When we decided to establish this competition, we had no idea we would be standing here today with such a large number of exciting projects," Holm said at the ceremony. "It is truly admirable how many of these design teams have opted for highly complex solutions, and we are thrilled by the sheer level of dedication and workmanship that have been displayed throughout the competition."
Holm hopes that the students benefited from the process – from inspiration to conceptualisation and from design to prototype. "As a source of daylight, fresh air and an attractive view, the roof window enriches our lives with light and creates better living environments for life, work and play. I am sure that all the participants have gained valuable insight into roof windows and we definitely feel inspired by all the creative concepts and solution that the students have come up with."