This was a great year for product design. From the release of new smart home kits to the launch of iPhone 12 and everything in between, there were loads of incredibly inspiring products to buy, admire and learn something from.
And though the smart home revolution keeps going and there’s absolutely no stopping it, we can still indulge in new creative lighting sets, chairs and furniture which push the boundaries of sleek and modern design.
What are the most inspiring product designs of 2021?
The most inspiring product designs of 2021
Smart coffee machines, salt-water-powered electric generators, luminaires, smart hobs and even masturbation toys – this year was incredible for design all round. If you’re looking for some inspiration to get you started in 2022, here’s an overview of the 20 best product designs of 2021.
Pictures below courtesy of the Red Dot Awards.
Lavazza Voicy - Alexa-powered Coffee Machine
The old joke saying that voice assistants will someday be able to make us coffee is old business now. Lavazza created a ground-breaking Alexa-powered coffee machine which literally responds to your voice. We even did a Behind the Idea on the campaign by VMLY&R.
WaterLight - Salt-water Electricity Generator
A device that provides electrical power using only salt water. WaterLight doesn’t need any more explanation – and its concept by Wunderman Thompson Colombia is so powerful that it was able to secure a Gold and a Silver in this year’s Annual 2021.
Siemens glassdraftAir iQ700 - Worktop Ventilation
Representing the state of the art in worktop ventilation, the Siemens glassdraftAir features a minimalist look and an extractor glass panel fan which sucks away steam from all cooking zones, quickly and efficiently. It’s especially designed for open-plan kitchens, and it’s so beautiful I had to resist the urge to buy one straight away.
Ambitus - Pendant Luminaire
If there’s no visionary luminaire or piece of furniture in the space of 12 months, that year was probably a failure for product design. The Ambitus luminaire is a circular LED luminaire with sleek ring-like design and appealing to a great harmony of form. And with the technical equipment staying hidden from view, the result is an elegant and modern office light which is perfect for smaller spaces.
Google Meet Series One - Video Conferencing System
Especially relevant to this day and time, the Google Meet Series One system is perfect for digital meetings and was designed to guarantee a seamless experience, streamlining the process without distractions, cables or other hardware required – all with a built-in Google AI. It supports exclusively Google Meet, but with soft round edges and minimal style, it makes the act of video conferencing incredibly aesthetic.
Sony BRAVIA X95J - 4K LED TV
Pairing the unparalleled visual quality of Sony BRAVIA TVs with the brand’s impressive sound system, the BRAVIA X95J Series is as thin as Sony could make it, so minimal it reduces every single element to its bare bones to ensure the viewing experience is never distracted by anything around the frame. Smaller stand, thinner screen, speakers and tweeters and a subwoofer – this series of screens is a masterpiece of hardware manufacturing.
Apple iPhone 12 - Smartphone
Being one of the intermediate model before the next step in Apple’s hardware line-up, the iPhone 12 was met with mixed response, but still features state-of-the-art design from the Cupertino house. A Super Retina XDR OLED display, the innovative A14 Bionic chip, and the usual aluminium body frame paired with support for the 5G technology make this one of the best, most excellently designed smartphones currently on the market.
DIALOGO - Modular Kitchen
Manufactured in Italy, the DIALOGO system is sophisticatedly modular, with every element pieced together to ensure the most efficient use of space and the perfect balance between harmony and functionality. Available in five colours, the system was created in aluminium, silicone and polypropylene, compact in design to optimise organisation in the kitchen.
Philips GoZero Smart - Smart Water Bottle
With cars, refrigerators and coffee machines going smart, it’s no wonder our water bottles would do so too one day. The Philips GoZero Smart sets out to solve an issue which has been plaguing water bottles ever since they were invented: the more water stays in a bottle, the smellier and less fresh it becomes. With innovative UV-C LED technology activated every two hour from the cap, GoZero eliminates up to 99.99% of bacteria from water, keeping it fresh and safe to eat at all times. Comfortable to hold, stylish to carry around, it’s a bottle anyone should consider purchasing.
Yamaha YDS-150 - Digital Saxophone
Flexible, warm and iconic, the saxophone is one of the most famous musical instruments popularised in the golden age of jazz. Incredibly sophisticated and created by Yamaha to be as close to the acoustic saxophone experience as possible with only two-thirds of the weight, the YDS-150 captures the player’s breath passing through the body of the instruments and makes it vibrate in response, emulating the natural resonance of a true acoustic saxophone. As it features the same structure, shape and key layout of a normal saxophone, musicians won’t have to spend time to get used to it and they can enjoy quiet practice in the comfort of their room.
TENGA GEO - Masturbation Egg Toys
Unassuming in shape and design, the TENGA GEO is the sex toys manufacturer’s response to younger generations growing more interested in the field, with an artistic appeal and unique design to heighten pleasure and help users approach the toy in full peace of mind. The forms on the egg were conceived to adapt to a globe form, which can be inverted for hygienic washing and then stored away in a clear case, which doubles as a drying stand.
Maserati MC20 - Sports Car
Cars, luminaries and furniture – that is the sacred triad of product design. With sleek elegance and the iconic Maserati confidence in form, the MC20 is stronger, safer and faster than previous models, conceived with innovative patented technologies and a monocoque design. This futuristic car is made entirely of carbon fibre and composite materials, with functional butterfly doors to enable easier access, allowing a stunningly light weight of less than 1,500kg.
Bose Frames Tempo - Smart Audio Sunglasses
Who needs headphones when your sunglasses can play music for you? The Bose Frames Tempo make use of the innovative Bose Open Ear Audio design to let people listen to music whilst still paying attention to their surroundings. The speakers are placed against each temple to play louder and deeper than most other audio sunglasses, and they are especially indicated for fast sport activities, such as cycling and running, connecting via Bluetooth to mobile devices.
Illan - Luminaire
Yet another sleek design manufactured in Italy, the Illan is a lamp emerged from intensive research to ensure the best use of materials and laser cutting. With simple concentric circles allowing for a three-dimensional feel, the Illan reacts to the faintest breeze and oscillate as waves in the wind, making for a beautiful visual effect. Made with sustainable design at heart, the Illan can be dismantled and its ecologically grown wood can be separated for disposal. And of course, it uses warm LED lights.
Acer Book RS - Laptop
Born out of a partnership between Acer and Porsche Design, the Acer Book RS is an ultra-light laptop with complementing mouse, uniting Acer’s approach to manufacturing with Porsche’s design philosophy. Motor-sports motifs wrap the carbon-fibre covers, which in turn, paired with the aluminium frame under the cover, grant the laptop a mind-blowing 1.2kg in weight. One of the most visually appealing and high-end pieces of hardware you can find in the market.
Step-by-Step - Vertical Radiator
A wall-mounted radiator coming in a large variety of colours and options, Step-by-Step is a high-end and modern radiator with slim design and elliptical modules, incredibly minimal in approach, and beautifully decorative for any modern home. With a modular approach and a concealed mounting structure and connections, Step-by-Step is, for all intents and purposes, a piece of furniture to decorate your home with, blending the beauty of design with the much appreciated functionality of a normal radiator – with increased heating efficiency.
CanReseal - Resealable Cans
Literally something so simple you will wonder why it hasn’t been done this way before. As the world turns its attention to the climate crisis and the over-abundance of plastic waste, cans are recognised as a big part of the problem and resealable cans are there to solve it. Since they’re made in the same material as the cans themselves, CanReseal can caps can be made along with the can lids, which makes it easy for manufacturers to adopt this innovative approach to can production.
Slim in Motion - Luminaire
Another round, another sleek luminaire - this time from Cologne, Germany. This impressive lighting set creates design in motion with the help of variations in light rings, which can be positioned flexibly to make for different configurations of lighting. The rings can be controlled via an app and their configuration changed at the touch of a button, with the core technology hidden in the ceiling to make for a seamless home design experience.
Tampliner - Tampon/Mini-liner
Simple name, simple concept: the Tampliner merges a tampon with a mini-liner (a thin pantyliner) to revolutionise the original concept of the tampon, which has remained largely untouched since 1931. This hybrid product provides the perks of a mini-liner with an organic cotton tampon to protect against the leak, and with a design conceived for comfort and hygiene, it helps keep the fingers clean both when inserting and throwing away the tampon when removed. A successful merge between two products, the Tampliner is an overdue upgrade of a much useful period product, designed to heighten functionality and provide safer, more sustainable solutions to menstruating people.
MeHandA - Bionic Prosthesis
Lastly, we wrap up this list with a bionic hand prosthesis from MaxBionic, an innovative product for people with amputations providing more than 100 patterns of hand gestures. Supported by software and triggered by the biochemical processes in muscle cells, the myoelectrics-powered prosthesis requires only 1.2 seconds minimum to move from open hand to clenched fist, and it is easily customisable to adjust sensors remotely via a Bluetooth connection. MeHandA further bridges the gap between technology and people with an amputation, with unique innovations in the scene providing state-of-the-art advancements for a bionic prosthesis.
The most innovative product designs of 2021
Despite being yet another year spent mostly in isolation, 2021 was, indeed, a great year for product design. Did we forget anything that you would like to see in a future list? Let us know in the comments below!