The screening of the GOOD DESIGN AWARD 2023 was implemented by the "Screening Units", the groups by design category. Here are the review texts by the Units including the trends, features or goals to aim of the category.
Creative Director / Designer
In the case of the GOOD DESIGN AWARD, social good design that has an impact on society is necessary, and it should present people, the environment, and society with originality and richness. In addition, "wearable" products require "functions" that integrate with physicality the most in design, and since they are the most familiar products that humans wear, "emotion" that contributes to human feeling is important in this genre. Therefore, it is not possible to resonate with human emotions and achieve a sustainable design if only the function is reasonably maintained, and it is not possible to achieve a good design if only the emotion is too prominent.
Design is a collection of small things, such as material combinations, sewing, parts, colors, and shapes, and the degree to which attention is paid to the detailed design shows the "perfection" of a thing. Since people's wishes take shape by moving their fingers, the perfection of the design means that the “function" and "emotion," which can be said to be a sign of people's wishes, live in the design in a good balance, and a product whose "perfection" is high and conveys the wishes of the maker indicates a good design. Good design always has the power to guide human emotions in a positive way, and people intuitively feel that something is beautiful when that reason appears in their forms.
As times change, people's minds and lifestyles change. If it does, the product should continue to evolve with the times. Reviewing the products around us and adding just a few ideas could lead to a design like never before, and I felt that there was a lot of room for new designs by updating the archive of technologies and products that companies have developed in-house, which is a collection of information, to keep up with the times. As a result of creating original products with unique technologies cultivated over many years, and constantly innovating, the products to this day remain strong. Designs that are loved by people can be passed down from person to person, leading to a further future and developing into sustainable manufacturing that lives on beyond changes of the times.
UNIT01 Jury Members
Product Designer, Design Producer
As a unit of personal care products, wellness products, hygiene products, beauty equipment, childcare products, and household welfare and nursing care products are subject to screening. First, with respect to the problem of nursing care in an aging society, there were many proposals to reduce the burden on caregivers and lower the hurdles for caregivers, and there were new proposals for people who push wheelchairs, cut care-receivers’ nails, wash their hair, and wash their mouth.
In addition, there were many proposals to reduce the burden on caregivers indirectly by providing independence support and at the same time to raise self-esteem by doing things by oneself, which is psychologically effective. Support for pulling on socks, a walker with place to put a supermarket basket, and a system for more intensive health care by measuring muscle strength are all vectors to support independence. However, as a challenge, there are a lot of designs that look like plainly nursing care products, and we felt like that the CMF design, which attracts even healthy persons to their use, should be adopted to cover one’s self-esteem also from a visual perspective. The same trend was observed for child care products. Specifically, it seems that a system to reduce the burden on parents by using AI to watch over babies in order to deal with mental illnesses, such as postpartum depression and insomnia, is spreading among child-rearing households.
Another trend was the evolution of mature products. In the hair dryer category, there was a time when technology and design evolution were at a standstill due to increased maturity, but after Dyson, as if a dam had broken, technology and design challenges continued. Such cases have also been seen in the shaver and adhesive bandage genres, with a notable effort to reverse the fundamental underlying bugs from the mature conventional wisdom.
The most difficult items to screen in Unit 2 were those for which the effects were unclear and those for which personal preference was a factor. Specifically, with respect to beauty devices, hair care products, supplements etc., we had to make difficult choices about not only their visual design but also the actual effects after use, as well as how to evaluate products that fall into various evaluation categories depending on their individual sensibilities.
UNIT02 Jury Members
The screening subjects of Unit 03 are stationery and hobby-related products in a wide range of domains, including office supplies, education, toys, sports, outdoor activities, pets, gardening, and musical instruments. The Unit's design approach was greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including changes in work styles and a return to nature. The screening was conducted paying attention to how new standards can emerge and play a role in a new society that has regained its composure.
As for stationery, which has reached the maturity stage, we were impressed by the development process of each company carefully observing the environment in which it is used and hearing from users in order to find clues for new designs. While the adoption of DX has accelerated and educational tools have evolved, there have also been attempts to take a proactive approach to improving the environment by looking at old-fashioned conditions at school sites. Like Kokuyo's “Double Clip” (23G030120), it was surprising to see that even classic stationery still has design possibilities. The system of Japanese awareness, which is sensitively sensed from everyday observation, is building the value of design in this field that we are globally proud of.
The designs for children and students were also impressive. Sports equipment for students also showed signs of updating old practices and concepts through scientific approaches and evolution of tools. The screening also showed that the stationery and hobby product designs have the potential to function as "physical learning" that can be obtained through experiences. Memories of the smell of cypress every time you sharpen a pencil or the experience of starting a fire using animal dung as fuel will help foster a sense of understanding of nature and humans in a continuous alignment. There were also a number of designs that reminded us of new sensations and sense through pursuing functions in a professional use environment and an inclusive development process.
With the advent of a mature society, leisure and hobbies must have a different value than the pursuit of convenience. At a present time when the virtual digital world is becoming an increasingly common part of our daily lives, one of the social roles of this Unit’s designs might be how we can create opportunities for fresh experiences connected to the real world while regaining the balance of our natural bodily senses.
UNIT03 Jury Members
When asked about the scope of Unit 04 “Household Goods,” “all the daily necessities at home, from chopsticks to Buddhist altars” is my answer. The Unit gathers kitchenware, cleaning supplies, bedding, emergency goods, Buddhist altar fittings, and other products that support many people's daily lives. In a place where all designs of individual units subject to screening are gathered together, along with social initiatives and medical/industrial equipment, the "Household Goods" may sometimes seem modest. However, they are life partners that support food, clothing, and shelter for many people and create a comfortable and prosperous time. Given the number of people involved in a product and the amount of time it can be useful, I am very proud to be involved in the "Household Goods" Unit. Focusing on the products selected for the BEST 100, this year the bold challenges and innovations of their spirited makers received high praise. Most household goods are in the mature category. In an age where not only manufacturers but also sellers and users are actively engaged in manufacturing, it seems that most "bugs" have already been eliminated. However, the solution teaches us that there were acts and unconscious stresses that we gave up as difficult to solve. It was such a surprising and moving screening panel. Marna's “Shupatto Umbrella” (23G040209), which successfully eliminated the practice of folding a wet umbrella by hand, and Ichibishi Kinzoku’s “Otegaru Tong” (23G040178), which can be operated like an extension of the fingertip with less force, are both good examples of innovation in household goods. After a considerable amount of time and trial and error, the products have arrived at the point where they can clearly resolve "bugs" in the usage scene, leading to comfortable and smooth operation. Another striking example of a different (from above) approach to innovation is Hotta Carpet's “Hand Woven Court” (23G040219). With the spirit of "bringing Japanese handwoven rugs to the world," it is a tapestry product that has been completed after seven years starting from material development. Aiming to be developed not as arts and crafts but as household goods, in addition to the rich expression that only handwoven fabrics can provide, it was also full of consideration in terms of delivery time and maintainability to remove multiple hurdles before it could be handed over to users. This bold approach to manufacturing and the highly completed design of the product, including its surroundings, are sure to bring about inspiration and courage to not only users but also many people involved in manufacturing.
Looking back again, we can see the common denominator of "design with a sense of mission" among the highly acclaimed products. In this screening, we were deeply impressed by the way in which the manufacturers considered the significance and necessity of making their own products by thinking broadly and deeply about the relationship between daily life and tools.
UNIT04 Jury Members
Unit 05 is intended for home appliances and cooking appliances that everyone always has. It has been 50 to 60 years since appliances became popular in the home, and in that time, they have helped people do domestic work and made life richer and easier for users, allowing them to dedicate their time to work and leisure. Appliances were a symbol of family wealth and happiness and a source of pride. As a tool to change people's lives, appliances have evolved to be more capable and easier to use, but now it feels like they need to move in a different direction facing the changing lives and values of users. What we saw in Unit 05 this time was not an evolution of the so-called specs of functions and capability, but rather a new evolution utilizing technology for "optimality," "richness," and "fun" in accordance with the current lifestyle.
For example, highly capable products are often difficult to operate and not everyone can make full use of them. However, the small embroidery machine “Skitch PP1” (23G050236) creates a new market by making it intuitively fun and "lowering the threshold," allowing use by many people. In the market for high-performance embroidery sewing machines used by a limited number of semi-professional users, Skitch is changing the focal point of its technology in the direction of "anyone can embroider easily," like drawing. As a result, the product can be easily and pleasantly experienced by novice users who have never embroidered, lowering the hurdle for those interested but who have found it difficult or high in cost. It is observed that, in order to achieve this, the maker listened to users and developed the product based on values different from those of the past to achieve a new evolution according to current times.
Also, while targeting the year-after-year growing number of single-person households, proposals that offer optimal functionality and compatibility with users' lifestyles instead of high capability and luxury features, such as the “LiFERE Compact IH Rice Cooker” (23G050250) and the personal dishwasher “SOLOTA” (23G050262), were notable.
The “Mijia Flame Simulation Electric Heater” (23G050264) is a fan heater with minimal functionality, but it emphasizes warmth with an image of the flame projected onto the steam. The image of the flame brings various visual effects, such as comfort and healing, as well as warmth. This is a good example of utilizing not only physical but also sensory functions.
After completing the screening, we would like to ask the question again. Have we made up our mind about evolution with preconceptions? Have we made up our mind about abundance with preconceptions? There is no single axis for evolution in response to changing values. I believe that the “Designs with Outcomes” seen in Unit 05 were award-winning works that sincerely faced the changing times and invested all their energy in creating new value.
UNIT05 Jury Members
The evaluation criteria of the GOOD DESIGN AWARD have changed with the times. Today, design is defined as anything created to fulfill an ideal or purpose, regardless of whether it is tangible or intangible, and anything that enriches people, society, and the future is selected as good one. In recent years, however, there has been a sense that in addition to the evaluation of things, the evaluation of the upstream ideals and purposes themselves has become much more important, and there have even been occasions where we are concerned that it is no longer in the category of design awards.
Under such circumstances, Unit 06, which screens video/audio equipment, has many categories with high maturity. It is also a unit that requires us to properly look at the perfection and beauty as products with high technology and functionality. In this respect, it can be said that this year’s screening has been conducted with an emphasis on the perfection, beauty, and attractiveness of things. As a result, among the highly rated objects, we were able to find a number of objects that may not create a significant change in society or the future but that are so attractive and inspiring that all the judges say "Nice!" in the same tone. And certainly, there was the intent, passion, and professional “prowess” of the designers.
Today, with the rapid evolution of generative AI and its widespread use, it is becoming less difficult for AI to design desired text, images, and videos. In the near future, AI will be able to understand people's ideals and purposes and propose designs based on them. Then, what is the value of human design? This year's screening reminded us that people feel and are moved by someone's intention, passion, and prowess, and then they try to make something else from it. That may be what the true value of human design is.
Also in the future, it will be necessary to review the evaluation criteria and screening method of the GOOD DESIGN AWARD while responding to the evolution of technology and social changes. However, good designs made by people for people always inspire us, and we would like this award to continue to be able to recognize such inspirations even when times change.
UNIT06 Jury Members
Design Director / Product Designer
Unit 07 covers PCs, smartphones, peripherals, printing devices, etc. The screening here asks how an attitude of "looking at and thinking about people" can lead to a beautiful future ahead, while coming to terms with technology and the environment. Like last year, in addition to tackling environmental issues with sincerity and not just seeking novelty and convenience, this year we saw companies that specifically sought to cater to people's sensibilities, and companies that declared the realization of an inclusive society while taking multiple perspectives. It is fair to say that the correct functioning of the design strongly pointed to the direction of our society. We would like to explore the themes of the next generation from the following three perspectives.
"Technology that brings out innovation"
Even if the technology created for human sensitivity is still in the process of being completed, there is a strong sense of the possibility of a rich world ahead, such as in a camera that does not depend on eyesight, which was born to realize a world where everyone can share the fun and excitement of creating (DSC-HX 99 RNV kit; 23G070508), and a device that enables music sessions online without discomfort, which was previously difficult (Zoom S6 SessionTrak; 23G070511).
"Never stop asking questions”
It often happens that we accept the status quo and stop asking questions. However, we can find a stance here of never-ending questioning: a mobile battery developed with the aim of achieving further safety (lithium iron phosphate battery; 23G070414), laser printing machines that have achieved a significant reduction in waste by enabling the supply of toner only (HP LaserJet Tank Series Printers; 23G070519), and an innovative system that has eliminated the commonplace existence of a battery (AirPlug™; 23G070510).
“Inclusivity and Design”
We would like to think that an inclusive view of "for anyone" is essential because electronic devices have a high degree of freedom. (Access Controller; 23G070507) In the process of developing a controller that can be used by anyone without acquiescing to those who cannot play games, we might learn something from designers who listened to the voices of small users who wanted something cool.
All of the products and services that have been evaluated by many judges have been carefully designed with a clear idea of the world they want to realize in the future based on the intention behind them or with respect to human sensibilities. Efforts to realize a recycling-oriented society have become commonplace, and we are in the phase of refining them. The world is still filled with a vague sense of unease and constant conflict, but this is why design must play a role in creating a world where each other's individuality and sensibilities are respected. We look forward to products with the intention to continue to observe people and the times, ask questions about their true nature, and show us the direction in which we should be heading.
UNIT07 Jury Members
In Unit 08, highly specialized equipment and facilities, such as medical equipment and manufacturing equipment, are subject to screening.
During last year's screening, we felt the spirit of the people in their proposal to use technology to combat the COVID-19 disaster. This year, on the other hand, there were many proposals for "initiatives" that go beyond just products and address increasingly diverse social issues. The difference in distance, which allowed them to see the issues from a larger perspective, was impressive, giving the impression of a post-COVID-19 event.
Even if the subject of the screening was a product, when we deciphered the design intention, we felt that the major trend this year was that true objective is to solve various social issues behind the product and that the product played a role as a means. Therefore, the screening focused not only on the evaluation of color and shape but also on "how to approach the issue," "how to solve the problem," and "the possibility of changing the future." Conversely, just being solidly finished as a product does not necessarily lead to a high evaluation. This is something that we have felt not only this year but also at screenings in the past three to four years.
During the screening under such perspectives, proposals that show signs of a "new normal" in the future society were recognized, and seven proposals from the Unit were selected as the GOOD DESIGN BEST 100 this year.
The discovery of a new inspection method called pharyngeal image analysis with the AI throat camera “nodoca” (23G080605) for infection judgment is solving a problem for both patients and health-care professionals and is fostering a new concept of open medical care through the use of AI in contrast to medical care that relies on previous expert knowledge.
The indoor photovoltaic device “LC-LH” (23G080598) not only creates a future that eliminates the need for dry-cell batteries used in various IoT devices but also regenerates factories using existing manufacturing facilities, providing valuable hints for Japanese companies to promote innovation in the future.
In today's world, where social and environmental issues are becoming more urgent, the demands on design have been changing. Beyond creating goods and services, how do people create sustainable value for their lives, society, and the environment, and what kind of results do they bring? We think it is becoming more and more important to look at creating “a new normal” for the future.
UNIT08 Jury Members
Due to the nature of Unit 09, which screens housing fixtures and equipment, there are not so many cutting-edge technology introductions or projects that significantly overturn common sense.
Conversely, there are proposals to find new perspectives on the "normal" that is usually overlooked in daily life, and we once again felt that the "new normal" would eventually become the "common normal" in order to push society and life up a notch.
In addition, as the number of applications from overseas has increased in recent years for the Unit, it is necessary to understand the diverse cultural, geographical, economic, and religious backgrounds of overseas countries, rather than to evaluate only based on Japanese values. On the other hand, we thought that the provision of guidance in presenting global standards for designs that remain based on local values, including applications from Japan, is also an important role in the screening.
The screening criteria are as follows: Does the product or service provide new value to people living in the house? Can the proposal benefit not only the people living in housing but also society as a whole? Can the proposal stand up to changing times in the long-running consumer good of housing? Is there a turning away from environmental issues? Emphasis was placed on those points.
I believe that the proposals that attracted the attention of the judges were those that started by identifying problems that are often overlooked, worked diligently to solve them, and provided new value through design not only for individual consumers but for society as a whole. In addition, the judges were all moved by certain proposals that made them smile and share a common feeling.
As the disasters caused by climate change and ideological conflicts stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine spur food and energy issues, and as the world is shaken by differences in values, we would like to encourage companies to work on their next products and services to help solve such issues through the value of design.
UNIT09 Jury Members
Product Designer / UX Design Researcher
This unit screens the value of "better comfort" proposed for people's living spaces and social spaces and "solutions to make things better" for the future. This domain has faced a lot of pressure to respond to the pandemic, but this year has seen some changes. There has been a renewed focus on the “ideal state” that aligns with people and the environment by developing existing ones, such as awareness of traditional living cultures and working styles, efforts to revitalize local industries and resources, the application of corporate know-how, and normal evolution. Sincere "monozukuri" (manufacturing) brought forth by the voices of users, the voices of development sites, and the technologies specific to manufacturers showed the maturity of a strong sense of technology and design, not biased by new technologies.
In the office domain, we were impressed by the changes in "goals," from the support for work from home/individual work and community proposals in past years to the substantiation of identity by utilizing each company's unique awareness and processing technology for design and molding, resource conservation and environmental response, and the construction of resource procurement cycles. It is assumed that the impact of social conditions, such as the recent rise in materials and energy prices, is also a factor, but the high level of design, finish, and technology/quality of each company made us realize the potential of “monozukuri” inherent in this domain. In the public domain, in addition to recent trends, such as universal consideration and communication support, proposals for solving current problems utilizing existing facilities have left an impression. Even in modern times, when infrastructure and environment are in good condition, it is necessary to update them according to the aging of various places, and it is expected that more and more design solutions to ease and solve the burden of resources, financial resources, and labor will be developed.
In the case of public facilities, the level of quality and perfection that manufacturers aim to achieve with regard to "consideration for people and the environment" is excellent in outdoor lighting, where energy-saving LEDs have already advanced. In addition, for the store equipment, space-saving, functionalization, and beautiful appearance have been implemented in accordance with various store types and miniaturization of stores, providing new value and market potential as "equipment to be displayed."
Finally, many of the items screened in this Unit have a structure that is itself a function, and the power to complete the structure itself with design and technology in a "beautiful, gentle, comfortable" manner is evaluated. This year, we were impressed by such sincere "power of monozukuri," and at the same time, we deeply felt at this screening that the mission and charm of design is the consciousness and willingness to take on the challenge of sustainability in the future.
UNIT10 Jury Members
The trend of prioritizing new technologies and concepts, such as electrification and MaaS, has settled down, and viewpoints of how let them be used by mobile people and contribute to communities and lives have received attention. In other words, there were many proposals of transportation with consideration for people.
By genre, proposals for personal mobility, such as bicycles and electric kickboards, were abundant. As the world continues to build walkable cities, the idea that last-mile mobility is essential seems to have taken root.
Electric kickboards are difficult to differentiate by design due to their simple structure, but there are still proposals to improve comfort and safety. While electric assist is becoming a standard for bicycles, there has been an ambitious effort to use smartphone applications as a control system to meticulously respond to how bicycles are run and used.
Three- and four-wheeled vehicles designed for universal use have also caught our attention. Under the revised Road Traffic Act, which went into effect in July this year, specified small motorized bicycles can have three or four wheels if they meet the dimension and performance requirements. Various proposals can be expected to be made in the next fiscal year and beyond as a means of transportation close to home for people who have returned their driver's licenses.
With regard to automobiles, there has been a desire to enhance the value of transportation based on feelings rather than numbers, while taking into consideration the basics of environmental and safety capability. We felt that design has become even more important, as some products mastered the universal theme of “beauty of movement,” whereas others focused on a comfortable working environment.
With respect to public transportation, the case placing importance on connections with local communities was impressive. The LRT, as well as the limited express trains for sightseeing spots, incorporated regional characteristics into the theme colors and used them not only for rolling stock and infrastructure but also for public relations activities to clearly show that mobility is an important tool in town planning.
There were also several collaborations with different industries, such as automobiles and welfare, and railways and housing. Both welfare and housing are fields closely related to life, but it is also true that mobility is essential to life. These are also examples of mobility with consideration for people.
The increasing proportion of foreign products is also a trend in recent years, and fresh concepts and designs can bring awareness. On the other hand, there has been an increase in the number of proposals for Japanese products for overseas markets, taking advantage of the company's long track record, and there have been concrete examples also this year. We recognize that it is an important initiative to demonstrate the significance of Japanese mobility design in the world.
UNIT11 Jury Members
Unit 12 is mainly for detached houses and small-sized housing complexes. The entries include a wide range of housing types, including those provided by house builders, those designed and constructed by housing contractors, those designed by design offices, and small apartment complexes as housing for the elderly and rental housing, and overseas housing, for which applications have been increasing year by year, as well as housing construction materials. We approached the screening from the viewpoint of to what extent these housing-related designs challenge proposals for improving life and society in their respective fields.
This year's trend has been marked by a growing number of housing initiatives aimed at creating harmony with diverse people and a sustainable society. Among the BEST 100, "52 Ken no Engawa" (23G120977) and "Group Home on Hilltop" (23G120976) are proposals aimed at creating a society where diverse people can live together while helping each other. In particular, "52 Ken no Engawa" was evaluated for its architectural embodiment of the wonderful concept of caring for everyone in the community, all together at one place, from babies to the elderly. The "Group Home on Hilltop" is a proposal to create a place where people with intellectual disabilities can live in harmony with local people.
As examples of efforts to create a sustainable society, there were challenging proposals including “Minimum House in Toyota” (23G120954), which achieves top-class housing capability, such as earthquake resistance and energy conservation at very low cost; “CLT Cell Unit” (23G120981), which aims to contributes to the revitalization of Japanese forestry by making CLT easy to use; and “Meguru-ma” (movable space; 23G120947), a house that can be dismantled and rebuilt with building materials that can be purchased at a hardware store. All of them attracted attention because they were proposals that reviewed the component material of houses from the viewpoint of preserving the global environment. "Yadokari Project," which tackled the problem of vacant houses, is also a proposal of a house with the theme of reuse.
In the development of relatively small residential subdivisions, there were many proposals to establish easements to create common-use venues. In such cases, too, special attention was paid not only to the establishment of easements but also to whether the land to be shared was an attractive place to help foster communities or whether the plans and designs encouraged the active cultivation of such places.
We think it is important to aim for a place where people can bring rich possibilities to the community and nurture them, even if they live in a single house, such as a detached house or small multifamily dwelling.
UNIT12 Jury Members
In this year's screening of medium- to large-sized housing complexes, we felt that there was something remarkable about environmentally friendly ones. “Suzumori Village” (23G131034), which is an example of low-rise, split building in a suburban location, was the first property in Japan owned by a private owner to receive LEED for homes certification, reducing the primary energy consumption of residential units by 55% compared to typical residential units. In addition to energy saving through high air-tightness and high heat insulation, they have also reduced the burden on the global and local environment both during construction and after completion by refraining from the use of south-sea timber and avoiding the planting of exotic species. The green common areas through which neighbors can pass are like pocket parks in the city.
Meanwhile, “Yoyogi Sangubashi Terrace” (23G130999), a five-story apartment complex located in a quiet residential area in the city center, is the first apartment complex in Japan to receive Nearly ZEH-M certification. It has high building envelope performance with the use of wood sashes and triple glass and achieves both a comfortable living environment and design.
What is common in both cases is that they are not for sale but for rent, which is a trend worth noting because it captures the importance of the environment in a broad sense, from a long-term perspective rather than focusing on short-term income and expenditures. Outdoor spaces surrounded by greenery also contribute to the development of communities inside and outside houses, suggesting the next generation of eco-friendly housing.
There were also many development examples of developers creating new forms that are not bound by conventional concepts by having outside architects involved in the design of exterior and common areas. While the main theme of the development was to appeal to other people, such as reducing the feeling of oppression to the surroundings and the relationship with local communities, it is hoped that future collaborations will bring innovation to the way living spaces are designed.
Finally, we would like to mention the "awa Mokuyon Project" (23G131035), which was the first four-story wooden frame apartment building in Japan. In recent years, wood construction technology for medium- and large-scale buildings has been evolving year by year, but it is not yet a general construction method. The wooden frame construction method, in which columns and beams of large-section laminated timber (330 mm square) are exposed inside and outside, does not require special skills and can be constructed by local construction companies. It also serves as a preparation for reconstruction after a major earthquake, and it can be said that it is a method that is both universal and regional. We would like to express our respect for the efforts of the local government officials and the architects who made it possible for the construction of the wooden structure to take full advantage of its appeal in planning, such as the installation of a buffer zone called "Ainoma" and the ability to accommodate future renovations.
UNIT13 Jury Members
Unit 14 covers architecture and interiors of "industrial/commercial facilities." From the first screening stage, the judges shared a common awareness of selecting "Designs with Outcomes" as it is the theme of this year. The key here is what an “outcome” is. Projects that have found answers to social issues or that have produced results that will serve as role models for other people and communities in the future are quite easy to evaluate. On the other hand, for luxury hotels and some commercial establishments, finding outcomes as solutions to social issues can be difficult. But are social elements essential for outcomes? The judges also discussed this issue and decided to proceed with the screening based on the policy of properly evaluating as outcomes spaces or places that have beauty, surprise, and design features that resonate with everyone, even if it does not necessarily solve social problems. The reverse is also true, and we consider it important not to compromise on design quality just because it addresses social issues.
I would like to introduce two points that were discussed during the screening.
The first is about local and recycled materials. The use of such materials has been recognized in previous GOOD DESIGN AWARDS for strengthening ties with local communities and for environmental considerations. Perhaps because of this, there were also many entries this year that used these materials, and the question of whether it is enough that they were just used was debated. When we carefully looked at the entries, we found that some of the designs were realized at a high level using such materials, and these entries were inevitably evaluated accordingly during the screening process.
The second is about medium- and high-rise wooden buildings. In recent years, wooden buildings have been attracting attention from the perspective of decarbonization, and it appears that the efforts of various companies have cleared the technical hurdles and yielded many examples. Some judges said that in the future they would like to see examples that not only compete in height and scale but also offer unique charm and design qualities that can only be achieved with wooden buildings.
UNIT14 Jury Members
Researcher in Urbanism
Unit 15 is unique in that it covers a somewhat wider range of areas, such as architecture, civil engineering, landscape design, and sign planning, but also evaluates the state of the public realm. From that point of view, as a general review of Unit 15 in FY 2023, we would like to describe two points that we noticed during the screening process.
One is voluntary participation. Not to mention co-design, modern public-related design involves various people at various stages. It seems that a project in which the desire of the people participating in the design comes to fruition is emerging as an excellent design. Here, participation refers to the involvement in the design process with a sense of ownership and commitment, rather than to formal "citizen participation." Among the BEST 100 works, some of the examples include "Higashi Yuenchi" (23G151202), which was developed from a voluntary social experiment by residents to use the park; "QURUWA Strategy" (23G151224), in which a residents' association actively engaged in "small renovations"; "Mizuho Town Library" (23G151149), in which the designer continues to engage in dialogue with the town residents and reflect their opinions in the space and operation; and "Operation of community bases through food and books” (23G151184), in which young people propose ideas and play the role of community managers on site. It is not just about “everyone participating in design”; rather, good public design would probably emerge when both designers and users take a proactive approach with intention.
The other aspect is a global perspective. This year, for the first time in a long time, foreign judges were allowed to participate in the second screening. In Unit 15, many insights came from discussions with overseas judge Ms. Jian Liu. The discussion began with the obvious "simple questions" for her, such as why, for example, there are almost no entries that focusing on reducing greenhouse gases, which is a top priority in the world, and why there are so many applications for childcare facilities and so few for facilities for the elderly, despite Japan being the world's most aging society. Then, we went on to discuss the awareness as a global citizen, which is often lacking in design in Japan, and the unique public support system. The number of applications from overseas is also increasing in Unit 15, and there is much to learn from them.
Public nature is diverse. On the other hand, there is also a sense of a common goal “beyond.” We will not forget to look from multiple angles, and we would like to conduct screening so that we can find the beginnings of "beyond" and support it.
UNIT15 Jury Members
The Unit 16 Media and Content division screens everything from product packaging, books, TV shows, websites, and events, giving us an early taste of the times. As the world moves in 2023 to make up for the long hiatus as the long COVID crisis winds down, there were three design trends in the Unit.
One is a design that addresses social issues and aims to solve them. This is a domain that has accelerated during the pandemic, but it is notable that the level has increased significantly. Label-less plastic bottles for drinks and containers for cosmetics that can be refilled no longer have an impact on their own. Concern for the environment is a prerequisite for corporate social responsibility, and it should be naturally assumed by a company. On top of that, the core of evaluation is whether there are any noteworthy points, such as beauty, function, and comfort. That restriction makes for an even better design.
Another is the design that technology enables. For example, “Kimi Dictionary” (23G161281), which allows you to put your child's name on it, is an idea made possible by the widespread use of print-on-demand, which does not require a letterpress. NHK's “Citizen Lab” (23G161277), a project that invites many people to participate and collects huge amounts of data for use in research, was born out of the widespread use of smartphones to collect large amounts of information. It seems that ideas that break the “convention” are the power of design and serving as stepping stones for each industry to evolve.
Further, this year, what was discussed during the screening process this year was the aspiration for beauty and fun, which are the roots of design. When the world stagnates, people tend to appreciate problem-solving designs, but in reality, people are looking for designs that aim at fun and beauty because of such times, isn’t that the case? The world that has continued to demand stoicism since the pandemic has clearly begun to shift. We tried to conduct screening that fits today when the atmosphere of the times is changing.
Historically, after major crises, such as wars and epidemics, there were always simultaneous creative explosions. As we move through the global crisis of the pandemic, we feel we are entering a new phase. The essence of design is to enrich our lives. The screening reminded us that there is still much more that design can do because of an age full of issues.
UNIT16 Jury Members
The screening of Unit 17 in 2023 was encouraging in that it was felt that various design initiatives that had been implemented in recent years as solutions to social issues were being implemented in society as systems and services, taking root, and spreading. At the same time, we realized that the screening process is becoming increasingly focused on sustainability and continuity, rather than simply evaluating the excellence of the vision or one-off or experimental efforts.
This is exemplified by “Kuradashi” (23G171304), an e-commerce platform that combines food loss reduction with the need for consumers who want to buy products at low prices, which achieved both its initial public offering (IPO) and B Corp certification. In addition, cases that were also highly evaluated in terms of demonstrating the possibility of both solving social issues and achieving business feasibility from the above viewpoint include "Yahoo! Shopping Otoku Designated Delivery" (23G171303), which realizes benefits for three parties—delivery companies to reduce their workload, EC stores to decentralize their shipping work, and users to enjoy economic benefits by earning points; “SANU 2nd Home” (23G171368), which offers a new lifestyle to live a daily life while visiting nature from a city and makes users and fans enthusiastic; and “WEAZER Nishi-Izu” (23G171367), which is a completely off-grid accommodation facility.
In recent years, there have been many applications that promote the co-creation method between designers and users, but as a result, the adoption of co-creation methods alone is not sufficient to receive a high evaluation. The substantial contents of the co-creation method, such as to what extent and with what stakeholders such method is used, and whether it is really beneficial for users, have been questioned more in the screening. The "YYSystem" (23G171353), a speech recognition system for the deaf, is a highly evaluated work mainly from that point of view.
In addition, while the quality of digitalization of financial services, which has been a trend for several years, has leveled off, there have been new trends in response to the policy challenge of shifting from savings to asset formation. Some proposals, such as systems and services utilizing blockchain like crypto-assets and NFTs, mindfulness, and genome analysis and editing technologies, were still technically and ethically difficult to evaluate, but we appreciated the works and initiatives that consciously addressed such issues. Although generative AI, which is currently attracting the most attention, also faces ethical and legal challenges, the fact that the image generation AI “Stable Diffusion XL” (23G171351) and race play-by-play generation AI for blind and visually impaired people “Voice Watch” (23G171352) were among the first to enter and win the award this year were enough to give us a sense of the momentum of systems and services incorporating generative AI in the coming fiscal year and beyond.
UNIT17 Jury Members
Under the theme of "Initiative and Activity for Region," Unit 18 brings together many projects that reflect social, economic, and industrial changes and reexamine the nature of the region itself. This year again, we received applications for various projects that address local social issues.
In this Unit, which screens the design of initiatives, it is necessary to evaluate how seriously to confront social issues, whether the content and mechanisms for solving them have originality and regional characteristics, and whether the initiatives themselves are beautiful, sustainable, and can be promoted with the sympathy of society. Through this year's screening, the following trends seem to have emerged.
The first is an activity that takes a long view of the time axis and addresses solving local issues and fostering local culture. How will the region itself remain and continue for 100 years? Efforts to foster local culture and industry continuously raising this question were highly evaluated. Such examples include “Organic Base Taneto” (23G181411) and the arts festival "One Thousand Names of Zeng-wen River, 2022 Mattauw Earth Triennial" (23G181416), which was created after three years of fieldwork in a 138-km watershed.
The second is an activity to design relationships with various parties. We highly evaluated the efforts of companies, residents, governments, and collaborators in other regions to co-create and work together to solve problems. These include “JRE Local Hub Tsubamesanjo” (23G181395), a business creation hub that works with more than 100 factories in the Tsubame-Sanjo area, and Taitung Mambo Project (23G181422), a city governance program in Taitung, Taiwan.
The third is an activity that creates places where people live, gather, and take on challenges. At "Community Park coconova" (23G181388), the former medical clinic has been transformed into a park, where the creation of a place to pursue the new public nature is being practiced. “Edible KAYABAEN” (23G181414) promotes community development as a place where everyone can connect and have a place by using a rooftop vegetable garden in a building district.
What is common among the highly rated projects, including those listed above, is that they move the local community through a series of actions, starting with the beliefs of each individual. Their small wish has created a north star for the region, which contributes to this year's theme of "Design with Outcomes," and is creating a future with empathy. At a time when it has become difficult to chart the future of a region based on economic rationality alone, we, judges, were strongly encouraged by the fact that efforts are spreading nationwide to change the region by envisioning the future over a long period and transforming its structure and design.
UNIT18 Jury Members
The number of applications for the design of initiatives and activities for the general public, which Unit 19 is responsible for, is increasing with increased recognition year by year. Among them, we would like to point out three trends that are noteworthy this year. First, there were high-quality designs from domains where no applications had been received before. One of these is the “Oneness Foundation” (23G191473), which provides life and career support for people seeking to reintegrate into society in prison or after release. Mechanisms and management are skillfully designed to address the challenges of difficult reintegration from the perspective of the actors. Other examples are the educational institutions of “Kamiyama Marugoto College of Design, Engineering and Entrepreneurship” (23G191485) and “Akita International University” (23G191482). What these two institutions have in common is the establishment of a comprehensive learning system aligned with a unique vision, as well as an elaborate system that leaves no one behind when it comes to school fees. Their high quality is achieved through design thinking from the conceptual stage, with systematic and consistent design.
Second, there is a new trend of creating design organizations in large companies and governments that did not have design elements formerly to change corporate culture and solve social issues. We hope that the systematic injection of design in companies and governments that did not have design elements previously will have an impact within companies and on society.
Third, the concept of recycling and upcycling has permeated society, and environmental considerations in development have become the default. The number of applications based on these themes has increased over the years, and there have been quite a few cases where recycling or upcycling is the goal. In the good initiatives that have been evaluated, environmentally friendly mechanisms, such as recycling, are not the goal but a method, and a concrete and high-quality vision of "Whose and what kind of happiness are we moving toward?" is being advocated. In addition, communication design is carried out so that stakeholders "personalize" the value of the vision, and the systematic planning from the viewpoint of the actors is carried out consistently to the output. This means that the quality of the process enhances the outcome.
In this day and age with so many challenges, design plays a key role in reaching a point where people are expected to live in an inclusive and spiritually rich manner in all domains.