Whether it’s scrubbing the bathtub, computing on the go, or saving a life, winners in the 19th annual Industrial Designers Society of America’s Industrial Design Excellence Awards have come up with a simpler or more efficient approach. The competition recognizes design firms and corporations for excellence in form, features, and interactive qualities of products, exhibits, and software. Thirteen judges based their decisions on five criteria: design innovation, benefit to user, benefit to client, ecological responsibility, and aesthetics and appeal.

In this year’s contest, 33 gold, 34 silver, and 59 bronze awards were given. IDEO took home six awards, and Black & Decker won five. Volkswagen, IDEO, Fitch Inc., and Ziba Design each received two gold medals for their designs.

“It was exciting to see so many terrific entries. It was clearly another year of rapid change and opportunity for designers,” says IDEA 98 Jury chair Michael Gallagher, director of Crown Design, New Bremen, Ohio. “Looking at the entries gives a broadbased glimpse into the future of design and societal trends.”

Following are several cream-ofthe- crop entries. They are gold winners unless otherwise noted, and prices are manufacturer’s suggested retail.

Stylin’ jet boat
The challenge of accommodating up to seven boaters and maintaining a sporty, dramatic style at a low price inspired the Bombardier Sea-Doo Challenger 1800 jet boat. It cruises into the 18-ft recreational boat category with the style, performance, features, and safety of more expensive boats. The Challenger has twin 800-cc engines and formula jets with quick acceleration for waterskiing. The Sea-Doo maxes out at 52 mph, but has plenty of room for a family and gear. Bolstered bucket seating for five occupies the main cockpit area, and seating for two is available on the open bow. The sunpad/spoiler has a lockable storage area and a retractable ski pole. A weedless system activated from the driver console cleans the intake grate. The boat comes equipped with a digitally encoded security system and jet-pump water flow for lowspeed maneuvering. Designer/Client: Bombardier Recreational Products, Montreal, Canada. Price: $16,995.

Go away, you scum
When Black & Decker Inc. discovered that quite a few people spend hours scrubbing bathroom mold and mildew with a toothbrush, it called on Anderson Design Inc. to develop a rechargeable powered scrubber for the bathroom. And hence the silver-award-winning Scumbuster cuts the elbow grease out of soap-scum removal.

The Scumbuster can be dunked safely in a bucket of water. Overmolding the preassembled product with an elastomer gives a watertight look, dispelling fears of using an electric scrubber in a wet area. A palm grip over the brush lets extra pressure be applied to tough stains and mildew. And a long handle with a protective guard, which keeps hands from banging against hard surfaces during hard-core latrine details, helps with overhead areas and large surfaces.

The internal components — a drive motor, step-down gearing, and battery contacts — are assembled into two ABS housings. The parts are screwed together and the entire device is covered with injection-molded Santoprene. A rechargeable battery is put in place, and the scrubber is ready to clean. Each Versapak battery runs 25 min. Designer: Anderson Design Inc., Plainville, Conn. Client: Black & Decker Inc., Shelton, Conn. Price: $59.

All necks are not created equal
Since only a limited amount of medical equipment can be carried on an emergency call, patients who require a neck collar to limit spinal movement are often stuck with the wrong-sized collar. But with the Stifneck Select adjustable collar, one collar accommodates four neck sizes.

With time at a premium on an accident scene, medical personnel using the Stifneck Select measure the patient, adjust the collar accordingly, set the chin support to the appropriate height, and lock the collar. Caregivers don’t need much training, as sizing techniques are similar for a one-size-only collar. The Stifneck has an oversized tracheal opening for easy access during advanced airway procedures, and a rear-panel opening for easy patient assessment. For safety reasons, the collar cannot be locked or adjusted while on the patient. All surfaces are textured for easy grip and the edges are contoured to prevent glove damage.

Stifneck select is the first injection-molded adjustable collar. It is made from HDPE, nylon, and a die-cut-cell polyethylene foam, with a Velcro hook and loop. The entire device snaps together. Even though many collars are designed for one-time use, they are often disinfected and reused several times. Knowing this, Laerdal designed the collar to endure harsh cleansers and up to 20 uses. Yellow emphasizes the user interface area and reflective red Mylar helps guide users in dim lighting. Designer/Client: Laerdal Medical Corp., Wappingers Falls, N.Y. Price: $17.

Protective backpack
Traditional soft backpacks don’t protect breakables in case of a spill, and leave an unsightly “sweat spot” on their toters’ backs. The Speed Pac eliminates these problems with an aerodynamic, hard-shell, lightweight design. Strategically placed foam pads lift the pack, letting the wearer’s back breathe, and help distribute weight. The pads also prevent the bag from swinging back and forth. And the aerodynamic shape of the hard shell reduces drag for bikers. The rigid structure acts as a splintlike back support, improving posture rather than pulling down on the back as soft packs do. And say good-bye to squashed lunch sacks, as the shell also protects soft objects and breakables. And in case of a fall, the shell protects the back. The pack is also designed to accommodate a large drinking water bladder and tube for active users.

The water-resistant Speed Pac comes in molded carbon fiber or vacuum-formed ABS plastic. The interior is lined with Velcro fabric and straps to secure contents anywhere inside. The latch is also Velcro, and the shoulder straps are nylon. Reflective graphics add visibility. Designer/client: Shook Design Inc., Palo Alto, Calif. Price: $130 to $175.

Baby carrier doubles as seat
Parents who want to tote their babies in front-end carriers, but easily unhitch, can now use Fisher- Price Inc.’s Prop ’n Carry infant carrier (silver award). The soft front carrier’s lightweight internal shell supports the baby while worn by an adult. The carrier converts to a seat for feeding, playing, and so forth by removing the harness and shell and unfolding a built-in kick stand and footrest. A soft, machine-washable padding covers an injection-molded plastic shell. Designer/ client: Fisher-Price Inc., East Aurora, N.Y. Price: $40.

Polish while you walk
With galoshes considered passé, the New England Overshoes Commuter lets business men face slush and ice in style. The waterproof NEOS Commuter pulls easily over a man’s dress shoe and has traction for slick surfaces. The wing-tip outer styling is appropriate for business wear while the molded-rubber bottom resembles that of a hiking boot. The Commuter has a quick-release Duraflex buckle, a compression-molded PE/EVA-foam three-layer toe cap, a PVC outer skin, and polyester nylex lining for water proofing and insulation. As a bonus, the lightweight polyester nylex inner toe lining polishes dress shoes while walking. The overshoes also conveniently stow away in a briefcase. Designer/client: NEOS, Charlotte, Vt. Price: $60.

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