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Here Are All 56 Finalists In Our 2012 Innovation By Design Awards

At last, here are the results you’ve been waiting for.

Design isn’t the gloss applied at the end of the innovation process. Design is the innovation process itself. It begins with a keen insight into how people live and what they need; ideally, it ends with a product or service that’s so intuitive that it seems inevitable.

It’s in that spirit that we present our first Innovation By Design Awards. The 56 finalists you see here were culled from the over 1,700 entries we received. (Each was released in some form over the last year.) It’s a startlingly diverse group: Many projects shine a light onto the myriad problems that agile companies and hungry entrepreneurs are battling to solve. Others improve our lives in tiny, marvelously thoughtful ways. Some provide beauty in places where it’s seldom seen. And still others are designed to literally save lives.

Culling this group wasn’t easy. But we had outstanding help from a panel of 27 judges, each of them a star in their field. For now, the group you see represents only the finalists. (You can also see them in a feature package in our October issue, which is out today.) The winners of each category—as well as two Business Impact winners chosen by Fast Company—will be announced at a celebration on October 16. We hope you’ll join us, the judges, and the finalists.

And as you dip into the projects that follow, we hope you’ll be as inspired as we were. Thank you to all that entered, and made the awards possible. We hope to hear from you next year, and to see your work before then.


The finalists range from an electric bike by Ideo to the new Ford Fusion.

Consumer Products

Many of the finalists suggest entirely new sorts of product ecosystems, such as the BioLite CampStove and the Nike+ Fuelband.

2-D Design

Our judging panel leaned heavily away from traditional branding and 2-D design, and put a focus on disruptive innovations in data visualization.

Service Design

The finalists range from a clever hack that converts charity into impulse buys to the UPS package-delivery overhaul we’ve always wanted.

Interactive Design

Some of these are amazingly fun, like the Numberlys by Moonbot Studios. Others, like the Painsquad app, solve pressing problems in ingenious ways.


The entries here were superb, and included a masterpiece by Steven Holl, in collaboration with Solange Fabião, and a novel data center for Facebook.

Industrial Equipment

A tour of some of the hidden design feats that make our economy tick.


Ideo imagines a future when bioengineering will be reduced to a household appliance, and Snohetta reimagines Times Square.


Could we rebrand bugs to make them palatable for Western tastes? And what is the future of the cubicle?

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  • Designkreaton

    seems kind of crazy that you can't just see the list of nominees... you have to go through another level of figuring out their category and can't see all nominees together. would've been nicer to have a master list with categories etc rather than knowing the person you are looking for is in 2-D design (which is pretty abstract) rather than consumer products (or whatever)

  • Yael Miller

    Too bad the design of this article (at least in print) totally sacrificed content for context. I had a hard time scanning the awards.

  • Lise Newell

    If they used the font 'Dyslexie' it would be a much better article.

    I have changed my whole machine to use it as default - it's awesome. Even the head of English at the college I work at says it's easier to read. I am dyslexic and he is not.

    Time to move with the times of genius and leave the letters that cause confusion in the past along with the Runic alphabet.

  • Morgs

    I agree - terrible design in the print article.    You would think that an article about the best in design would be designed in the best way possible.  But this presentation was hard to read and visually messy.