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B as in Boffo
LeapFrog Phonics Desk and Phonics Traveler
Designer IGNITION Inc.
Client LeapFrog
Phonics Desk was the first electronic toy to help children learn to sound out words. It was introduced in 1995 by LeapFrog, a company set up by Mike Wood, who was having trouble teaching his son to read. It incorporates a Texas Instruments voice chip. The toy has big, bold letters, a wide screen, and lots of color. LeapFrog's revenues have grown from $4 million in 1995 to an estimated $70 million in 1999. "Good ideas are sometimes very simple and very successful," says juror Stefano Marzano.
On a Roll
Designer Teknion Furniture Systems design staff
Client Teknion Furniture
In a work world where teamwork is everything and flexibility is the key to innovation, mobile furniture is the answer. Toronto's Teknion repositioned itself in 1997 with the new Ability line, sharply increasing its market share. "Teknion is a 'design- driven' company, and it shows in sales and overall success," says juror Lorraine Justice.
The Winning Vote
AVC Advantage Electronic Voting Machine
Designer Bleck Design Group and Sunrise Labs
Client Sequoia Pacific Corp.
The AVC Advantage Electronic Voting Machine, introduced in 1990, is now a standard. Voting machines are usually set up by older people, so designers developed an easy-to-assemble unit. People in wheelchairs can vote without problems. "It helped the company go from almost bankrupt to achieving excellent profit margins," says juror Stefano Marzano.
Call of the Cellular
Nokia 6100 Series
Designer Nokia design staff
Client Nokia
The 6100 series, introduced in 1997, has a good interface, range of colors, and ring tones (or silent vibrator for theater)and long standby and talk times. In 1998, it made Nokia the world's leading mobile phone company. "Through a clever understanding of pop culture, user needs, and design, Nokia was able to enter a market dominated by Motorola and take it," says juror Charles Jones.
Heart Smart
Sequoia 512 Ultrasound System
Designer Acuson Corp. design staff and Lunar Design
Client Acuson Corp.
Ultrasound examination of the heart is a life-and-death matter. The Sequoia Ultrasound System enhances the ability of doctors and sonographers to see subtle tissue differences. Designed to be more modular, use fewer parts, and be less expensive, the Sequoia, launched in 1996, boosted Acuson's market share and raised profits. "It has helped to set the design standard for medical products for the latter half of the decade," says juror Lorraine Justice.
Stealth Speaker
DesignerBleck Design Group
Client Polycom Inc.
Some products have a shape that sticks in the mind. Polycom's SoundStation is like no other audio-conference phone on the market. A futuristic, three-point star shape allows people sitting around a large conference table to share a speaker-phone at the same time. Introduced in 1992, it now has 80% of the market and has become a brand icon. "This is a good example of design distinction used to make and defend a brand," says juror Stefano Marzano.
Keep on Truckin'
Volvo's VN Series
Designer Volvo Trucks design staff and Phares Associates Inc.
Client Volvo Trucks North America
This is some truck. It has captured 10% of the owner-operated big-truck market. The cab contains a TV-VCR, microwave, refrigerator, sink, compact-disk changer, pc workstation, and nine-speaker audio system. "Back from the brink with this product, Volvo is poised for growth into the next decade," says juror Lorraine Justice.
Designer Ergonomi Design Gruppen
Client BabyBjörn ab
The BabyBjörn Soft Carrier lets parents have their hands free while holding a baby. The sleeping baby is easy to remove together with the carrier. The Swedish company spent three years of research before the launch in 1991. Now, some 120,000 BabyBjörns are sold in the U.S. each year. "This product promotes a comfortable, healthy, safe child-bonding experience," says juror Luis Pedraza.
Little Blue
IBM Thinkpad
Designer IBM and Richard Sapper
Client IBM
The first clamshell ThinkPad was introduced in 1992. Since then, ibm has maintained the original concept of simplicity while integrating new technology. In the first quarter of 1999, the brand had 12% of the market. "With its ubiquitous ThinkPad, Big Blue just keeps on evolving and adding features," says juror Noel Zeller.
A Laptop Unlike Any Other
Apple PowerBook
Designer Apple Computer design staff and Lunar Design
Client Apple Computer Inc.
Apple's first portable computer wasn't a big hit. The PowerBook, however, was an instant winner. Launched in 1991, it was Apple's first successful entry into the laptop market. The centered trackball, tilting display, and palmrest were all new laptop design features at the time. The PowerBook became a billion-dollar business for Apple in its first year. Its look and its interface reinforced the computer maker's image as a trailblazer. "Innovation, user-friendliness, and bold leadership made the PowerBook what a portable laptop should be," says juror Luis Pedraza.
Picture Perfect
DSC-F1 Digital Still Camera
Designer Sony design staff
Client Sony Corp.
Sony's first digital still camera was designed with a special rotating lens that makes picture-taking easier. People can take pictures of themselves while viewing a liquid-crystal-display screen. Digital cameras have a huge range of functions, but Sony was smart enough to make the dsc-1 simple, transparent, and fun. "The tactile qualities are excellent and contribute to an experience of quality," says juror Stefano Marzano. "I have one myself."
Sharp Copier
Xerox DocuTech
Designer Xerox design staff
Client Xerox Corp.
The DocuTech, introduced in 1990, was Xerox' first attempt at digital technology in its mainline copier business. It made mass customization possible. Product design made the screen easier for people to learn to use. A sophisticated interface permitted users to get the most advanced functions in no more than three simple steps. The DocuTech created a new brand for Xerox that had grown to $2.3 billion in 1998. "The DocuTech is a strong idea supported by outstanding engineering and a thoughtful design," says Marzano.

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Introduction: A Decade of Design

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