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Brits bring home the Red Dot of design excellence

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Creative Industries, Design, Germany, Giftware, Innovation

In some cases it was the tuxedos, in one case a kilt, but the Brits were easy to spot at the Oscars of the design world this week.

The dress code for the Red Dot gala dinner in Essen was 'Black tie' which to us Brits means dusting off our tuxedos.

In Germany, black tie actually just means formal suits - if they want you to get the bow ties and cummerbunds out, they ask you to wear 'Smoking'.

But British people don't need much of an excuse to put on a tux, particularly for a prestigious awards night, and particularly when there would be a chance to meet Jimmy Choo - the designers' designer and a judge and presenter of the Red Dot awards.

So, resplendent in their finest penguin suits, many British companies and designers flew in to Essen to earn well-earned recognition and praise for their work.

Whether it was ultrasonic flaw detection equipment, a folding e-bike, an alarm clock (which you turn off by simply turning over) or even a kitchen sink - British designed products were being awarded their prestigious Red Dots.

Although I didn't meet all of the UK winners (you can't dance at every wedding, as the Germans would say) I met enough to get a sense that the skill and art of design is something we are exporting all over the world.

There was a healthy mix of both British designers either working for or in British companies as well as overseas companies hiring Brits to help them realise their products.

There were also British judges in the form of Jimmy Choo and Martin Darbyshire, the man behind British Airways business class flat bed among so many other things.

Don't get me wrong, it was far from a British night - there were winners from more than 30 countries present and the Design Team of the Year were from China - but there certainly were enough Brits for us to be proud of the state of this sector of our economy.

And you only have to walk around the magnificent Red Dot Museum in Essen, this week a party venue but the rest of year a tourist attraction, to see the influence of British design.

Their collection of winners' products from past years includes a good selection from Dyson, Kenwood and Grohe, a German luxury bathroom fittings manufacturer with a British chief designer. In the past Mini has won three awards.

For those who have not heard of Red Dot - and I confess I was such a person until I met their founder at the launch of the Dyson Airblade Tap recently - they really are a global award to be proud of and aspire to.

Glance through the websites of some of this year's winners - Franke (the kitchen sink manufacturer who worked with a Scottish company who also design whisky cartons), Mark Sanders (the designer behind the e-bike but also who tutored at the Royal College of Arts and proudly saw a former Swedish student win his red dot this week) and LA Design (don't worry, they are based in Berkhamstead) -  and you will see Red Dot widely and clearly highlighted as an endorsement.

Although he didn't get an official award for it, the prize for best 'Smoking' at the awards ceremony didn't go to a Brit - host and red dot founder Professor Peter Zec wore a white tuxedo complete with sparkling black shoes. Not even a kilt can top that.

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