Spire, a wearable personal health-tracking device, took home the trophy for the 2014 People’s Design Award at Cooper Hewitt’s National Design Awards gala in New York Oct. 9. National Design Awards jury member Bruce Mau announced the winning design and presented the award to Spire CEO Jonathan Palley and designer Zhao Zhao. Spire analyzes an individual’s emotional and physical state with the goal of improving people’s daily lives through greater health, balance and productivity.
“With an emphasis on transforming people’s lives through regular feedback about their health, Spire truly captures the essence of the People’s Design Award—revolutionizing our everyday experiences through innovative design,” said Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. “Increasingly, the noise and distractions of daily life have the potential to keep us from being productive and healthy, and the selection of Spire by the American public shows the importance of keeping stress levels in check while also inspiring new ways of maintaining a healthy balance.”
Designed by Zhao Zhao, Spire is worn on the hip or torso and determines patterns of breathing, movement and activity through a group of sensors that provide feedback in real time to a user’s smartphone. Based on set personal goals and the data it collects, the device sends messages throughout the day to shift one’s state of mind to improve mood and reduce stress, or inspire activity if one is sedentary. Described as a “mini yogi in your pocket,” Spire was introduced to the market in October 2014 after three years in development with a team from Stanford University’s Calming Technology Lab.
This year’s contest, organized by Cooper Hewitt and Smithsonian.com, invited the public to vote for their favorite design from a pool of 20 works. From Sept. 10 to Oct. 6, more than 20,000 votes were cast from across the country. Nominees included inventive consumer products (Drift Light, Lumio, Soma Water Bottle), medical devices (Cue, Stick-On Circuit Board), eco-friendly construction materials (Mushroom Building Blocks), emergency tools (SAM Junctional Tourniquet) and design solutions for improving human and environmental problems (Deka Arm, Ecozoom Stove). Previous winners include Pack H2O Water Backpack; Marianne Cusato, designer of the Katrina Cottage; Toms Shoes; the Zōn Hearing Aid; the Trek Lime Bicycle; the Braille Alphabet Bracelet; and Design Matters, a show about design and culture.
The People’s Design Award was the final award given out at the 2014 National Design Awards Gala, which was held at Pier Sixty in New York and recognized recipients in 10 categories, including Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar for Lifetime Achievement, Witold Rybczynski for Design Mind, and Etsy for Corporate and Intitutional Achievement. (View list of all winners.) Aaron Koblin, on accepting the award for Interaction Design, dedicated his award “to anyone who has contributed to an open source project,” while Narciso Rodriguez, after being presented with his award by Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo, noted the difficulties in pursuing a creative career but that “it also comes with great rewards, such as tonight.” An esteemed group of presenters included Milton Glaser, Kurt Andersen, Ben Stiller (via video), Scott Stowell, and Walter Hood. During the evening, guests, including Anna Sui, Maria Cornejo, Clodagh, John Maeda, and Celerie Kemble dined at tables decorated with 3-D printed Carnegie mansions, before heading to a performance area to watch an excerpt from Locomotor (2014) by members of Stephen Petronio Company, who wore costumes designed by Narciso Rodriguez. View photos from the gala in the Press Image Gallery.
National Design Week is made possible in part by the sponsorship of Target.
National Design Awards are supported in part by Procter & Gamble and Design Within Reach. Additional support is provided by Facebook. National Design Award trophies are created by The Corning Museum of Glass. ndagallery.cooperhewitt.org is powered by Behance. Media sponsorship is provided by Smithsonian magazine.
National Design Awards and National Design Week professional supporters include AIGA | the professional association for design, American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, American Society of Interior Designers, American Society of Landscape Architects, Council of Fashion Designers of America, Industrial Designers Society of America, Interaction Design Association and International Interior Design Association.
ABOUT COOPER HEWITT, SMITHSONIAN DESIGN MUSEUM
Founded in 1897, Cooper Hewitt is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. The museum educates, inspires and empowers people through design, presenting compelling educational programs, exhibitions and publications. International in scope and possessing one of the most diverse and comprehensive collections of design works in existence, the museum’s rich holdings range from Egypt’s Late Period/New Kingdom (1100 B.C.) to the present day and total more than 210,000 objects.
Cooper Hewitt is located at 2 East 91st Street at Fifth Avenue in New York City. The museum is currently closed, and will reopen to the public Dec. 12, following a three-year renovation project.
For further information, call (212) 849-8400, visit Cooper Hewitt’s website at www.cooperhewitt.org and follow the museum on www.twitter.com/cooperhewitt and www.facebook.com/cooperhewitt.