The iF DESIGN AWARDS has long been recognized as a symbol of design excellence, celebrating outstanding design and innovation and its relevance for business and everyday life. The 2021 competition received a record-breaking number of entries, with nearly 10,000 products or projects from participants in 52 countries. As 2020 brought hygiene, health, and home to the fore, there was a significant increase in entries for the bathroom category, and the jury process changed in light of pandemic restrictions. In what was an exceptional 2021 result, Kohler and Mira took home 15 iF awards.
The iF DESIGN AWARDS are organized and hosted by iF International Forum Design GmbH (iF), a German institution dedicated to identifying, supporting, and promoting good design. Since the early twentieth century, avant-garde designers in Germany have been developing products guided by the belief that better design contributes to a better life. Several progressive design centers were established in the early 1950s, including what would come to be known as iF Industrie Forum Design Hannover, which organized and hosted special exhibitions promoting well-designed industrial goods. The first show was held in 1953, and the first iF DESIGN AWARDS in 1954. Today it is one of the world’s most valuable design competitions, internationally recognized as a symbol of exceptional design and outstanding quality.
The winners of the iF DESIGN AWARDS 2021 were announced in April, following a year and competition unlike any other, with the largest iF jury to date (98 design experts from 22 countries), the highest number of entries ever, a new judging process, and a virtual awards ceremony and campaign. “Generally speaking, these changes are the biggest makeover in the iF’s history,” says Annegret Wulf-Pippig, Chief Press Officer of iF International Forum Design in Hannover.
The iF DESIGN AWARDS were evaluated via a two-step jury process: an online preselection and a final jury session, held digitally. First, 91 international and independent design experts selected the best 50 percent of submissions, which were then appraised by the final jury. “By only shipping 50 percent of the entries to Germany, this edition was also eco-friendlier and more cost-efficient than ever before,” Annegret says. The iF jury awarded 1,744 designers, agencies, and companies for their creative and innovative achievements, with the 75 most outstanding works honored with iF GOLD AWARDS. These included Giant Bicycle’s Halfway Folding Bicycle for commuting, and the Google Meet Hardware for videoconferencing.
Both of these award-winning designs address and facilitate lifestyle and work changes brought on by the pandemic, which also shed new light on hygiene, health, and sanitation. This was reflected in the significant increase in winning entries in the bathroom category, which this year almost tripled to 226 winning entries. Fifteen KOHLER® and Mira products won awards, including the first of its kind Rivlet (Wudu All-In-One station), and the sustainable Avoir™ tankless toilet. The considered, elegant Struktura hygiene urinal and the convenient Multi-Task hand dryer were also awarded, as were the Moxie™ showerhead and wireless speaker and Exhale™+ shower filter, amongst other groundbreaking products.
“Winning the iF DESIGN AWARDS is a great endorsement for Kohler and a solid affirmation that we are continuing to deliver best-in-class product designs to our customers and end consumers,” says Lun Cheak Tan, Vice President of Industrial Design -- K&B Group. “For the design team, it’s a pat on the back from the wider design industry and motivates us to deliver greater innovation and design rooted in consumer insights and global needs.”
All of the winning designs are a testament to just how important home life has become, a paradigm shift that was also reflected in the architecture and interior architecture categories. Spaces for relaxing have become more important than ever as people seek not only comfort and safety at home, but also a place for working, studying, teaching children, and everything else that modern life entails.
For the second year running, iF celebrated its winners online rather than at the traditional awards ceremony. The winning products and projects were featured online for 24 hours in May, exhibited virtually on the digital platforms of renowned design museums, and will be showcased on international and national design platforms over the next six months
Hygiene and cleanliness have been motives for good industrial design since the early twentieth century, when modernism first emerged. They have also been one of the driving principles as we strive to improve the quality of life for people around the world. “Kohler has been in the business of ‘clean and hygiene’ since the day it was founded,” says Tan, “and we want to continue to deliver innovation in the bathroom space where we can provide our customers with peace of mind and achieve a higher state of well-being.”