Best of DesignBuzz 2011

The year 2011 is almost at an end now and its time to look back at a fabulous year gone by that was significant for the whole world in more ways than one. The year 2011 saw some great innovations in terms of design and we had some breath-taking concepts and breakthroughs in home decor, auto and gadgets. They certainly made the world a better place just by having been conceptualized and innovated. Here’s our list of the best designs and concepts that set DesignBuzz on fire in the year 2011:

Bionic Arch

Representing the emergence of an eco-friendly consciousness within the architectural community, the Bionic Arch proposal by Vincent Callebaut Architecture was created to mark the 100th anniversary of the creation of Taiwan R.O.C. The innovative building concept is significant not only in terms of the tribute it pays to the growing power of the east Asian nation, but also in terms of the emphasis placed on green architecture and incorporation of sustainable elements within upcoming buildings that would be a part of the future of the city’s skyline. The futuristic new concept was commissioned by Taichung City Government to celebrate and promote the accomplishments of the country and the developmental goals it achieved over the last century. The building would be used as a future urban center representing the modern lifestyle of the metropolitan nation and the innovative and groundbreaking architecture looks to promote bio-diversity within the fabric of the city’s architecture itself.

Tornado Proof House

The year 2011 also sadly saw an astonishing number of tornadoes that ravaged the American Midwest and killed people by the hundreds. Since the number and intensity of these tornadoes have been steadily increasing over the past few years thanks in no part to global warming, a concept like the prototype Tornado Proof House could be a real lifesaver if it can be actualized in the coming years. Created by architects at 10 Design, the futuristic tornado-proof house is fitted with a clever set of hydraulics that allow the house to go underground automatically within minutes when a tornado is detected by its sensors. The house will rely on sensors placed throughout the community to detect tornadoes and potentially devastating levels of wind flow and would use automatic triggers to warn residents about a potential tornado. The house combines innovative architecture and sustainable building design that makes it wind- and water-proof as well as completely energy efficient and sustainable.


With real estate prices skyrocketing to new highs in the year 2011, a concept like the MORPHotel can become fairly commonplace in the years to come. Conceptualized by former IAAC student Gianluca Santosuosso, the building concept lies somewhere between a cruise ship and a water-based resort in its design and functionality. Drawing from the shape and structure of the human vertebrae, the MORPHotel would serve as a cruise ship as well as a fully-loaded hotel with individual suites being made out of glass. The hotel will also boast of luxury suites that would be able to float off from the main structure allowing guests to explore the ocean on their own. The water-borne hotel would cruise the waters of the world stopping at various locations briefly. If realized, the MORPHotel can revolutionize the way cruise ships looks and function in the years to come.

Parking lot for Abu Dhabi

For years, urban parking lots have been monopolized by dull, drab, industrial-looking buildings that look humongous on the outside, but offer parking space for a limited number of vehicles. To allow parking structures to be more flexible and more efficient, the California College of the Arts-based Exotic Variables and States of Change studio has come up with a parking lot named Compressive. The cutting-edge futuristic structure has been conceptualized for Abu Dhabi and boasts of futuristic features like a structure that actually reacts to the weight of vehicles parked in it. By allowing the building to react to the number of vehicle parked in it, the structure makes parking lots more interactive and intuitive. The multi-storied lot is also super energy efficient and optimizes the use of natural ventilation and daylight to keep power bills to a minimum.


Designed to look like a giant, amorphous algae vine, the ‘Saprophyte’ turns everything we know about office buildings on its head. The design follows in the current trend of envisioning buildings that would be living organisms in their own right thus being less harmful to the environment like the current concrete masses. Created by Justyna Krupkowska, Paweł Dudko, Emilia Dekarz and Karolina Czochańska, the concept asks us to envision a future in which buildings grow and evolve like living beings in response to human needs. The proposal also envisions a future in which the workforce of the world would like to keep the time spent on commuting to work to a bare minimum and the majority of the world’s population would in effect work from home. Though the Saprophyte would not feature futuristic time portals to help folks zap from their homes to work in a moment, it will boast of design elements that would allow the building to literally grow new structures on demand. The skyscraper would first be build (or grown) to specified dimensions. Then, if the need arises, additional levels and wings can be, er, grown to accommodate more storeys!

Shell-shaped MP3 player

Anybody’s who’s ever been to a beach has surely picked up a sea shell and held it close to their ears to listen to the wave-like sounds that they produce. The almost magical phenomenon has fascinated one and all for ages and designer Erick Sauxedo has used the thrill of the same to create this astonishing concept for an mp3 player. Shaped like a small seashell, the Shell MP3 player is a neat little innovation that would fit closely to the users’ ears just like the current lot of Bluetooth headsets do. With built-in headphones, the mp3 player would also be offered with a pair of wireless earphones allowing users to interact with the petite gadget in handsfree mode.

LG Cubeboard Concept

While touchcreens have been the talk of the town in the past few years, there still is a dedicated fan base for the good old keyboard. For users who need to work on computer systems for longer duration, the whimsy of touch-enabled monitors just doesn’t cut it. Sadly, innovations in the segment remain far and few in between which is why we are greatly thankful for novel concepts like the Cubeboard Keyboard Concept. Created by designer Nitin Mane, the futuristic keyboard makes use of heat sensitivity in combination with an OLED touchscreen interface which upgrades the current functions of a regular keyboard to an extend. Though the keyboard retains the functionality of that is expected of a standard keyboard, it does provide a few additional perks and offers attractions like a main panel which displays the modes of the keyboard. An in-built lock panel helps users keep error and accidental input to a minimum which undoubtedly boasts users’
productivity as well.

Communicaid design concept

Making the public space more easily accessible for people with disabilities has been one of the most interesting segments in the design world in the past few years though most concepts that emerge in this field are targeted at people with more obviously identifiable disabilities like a physical handicap or blindness. However, for people with hearing impairments, signing or texting remains the only way they can communicate with others. To make the public space for people with hearing impairments, South Korean designer Jaepyung Lee has created the Communicaid design concept which allows them to communicate with non-signers with ease. The main attraction of the gadget however, remains the fact that the concept allows the deaf to also “listen in” to conversations and sounds around them via MEMS microphones that can capture conversations and display them in text an LED screen. The concept could help incorporate the hearing disabled into a hearing environment more seamlessly if it can be made into a fully-functioning device.


The Medirobot is a brand new medical lift and wheelchair combo that looks to cut down the steps needed in the process of transferring patients from hospital beds. The concept looks to cut down on the requirement of an intermediate lifting device or an extra wheelchair to lift and transfer patients in hospitals. Based on research conducted in collaboration with Taipei Municipal Yan Ming Home for Disabled, the Medirobot Medical robotic assistant is created by Pilotfish Taipei in collaboration with the Pilotfish Munich Team. Primary concept for the device was conceptualized by Nancy Nguyen and Jules Parmentier. The Medirobot would also be fitted with an infotainment terminal that would provide crucial information about the patient to the caregiver and cut down on patient discomfort during the process of transferring them to other locations.

Floating Phone

If you thought your iPhone 4S was the epitome of smartphone technology, you might not wanna read on. The Floating Phone created by the design team of Zhu Yunlong, An Pengcheng, Liu Linghan, Yang Fan, Li Ke and Messizon Li is a revolutionary new concept that would essentially change everything we know about touchscreen smartphones. With a floating screen based on FSM plan by Microsoft, the 3D-ready phone will auto-correct input errors while its Screenfloat and E-ink technique-fitted structure would stand out from the current lot of capacitive and resistive touchscreen tech. The phone would be manufactured using silicon, carbon, oxygen and a host of other metals that would make it one of the most unique creations available in the industry. What’s even better is that the designer intend for the concept not just to remain a clever concept, but plan on launching it in the market as early as 2015!

Mercedes Benz ELA

The Mercedes Benz ELA 2011 (MGDS) is an ultramodern electrical energy and solar cells-powered vehicle by Iranian design student Mohammad Ghezel. The concept aims at serving as an all-purpose vehicle that can be used as a family car and a cab. The innovative shape of the vehicle provides commuters with additional security while its butterfly wings provide easy entry and exit.

Mercedes blackbird

The latest movie from the Tron series created quite a stir in the design world and Hungarian designer Peter Vardai’s Mercedes-Benz “Blackbird” pays quite a fitting tribute to the genre. Inspired by the Lockheed Blackbird Sr71 which is the fastest manned aircraft, the concept comes with all the appropriate Tron brandings which make it a fab addition to the concept car segment.

The BMW flash concept 08

Created as a response to the BMW X9 Concept that made waves around the blogosphere earlier in the year, the BMW Flash by Tunisian designer Khalfi Oussama is a sporty new concept which surprises and pleases with its fabulous scissor door and sporty exterior. Based on the BMW M6, the vehicle will offer a choice between V8, V10 or V12 engines and will boast of a luxuriant interior trim that would be fit for Saudi princes and mid-age-crises-y gents alike.

Chevrolet Ngo electric car

Riding high on the green car wave, designer Cristian Polanco’s Chevrolet N-Go concept has been one of most well-received concepts of the year. With a sporty exterior, the high-riding concept promises to reduce carbon emissions and keep our environment clean while its compact shape allows cities to save up on parking space!

BMW 328 Hommage Car Concept

A tease to end all teases, the contemporary version of the BMW 328 Hommage concept was launched by BMW to mark the 75th anniversary of the launch of the BMW 328 racecar. Boasting of extensive carbon fiber elements, the 780 kgs-heavy vehicle is a modern take on the classic vehicle and comes powered by an inline 6-cylinder 3.0 liter engine. Sadly, BMW has no intentions of putting the car into production. Bummer!

Concoon by Wasserbetten

Created by Wasserbetten in collaboration with design studio Liebmann, the Concoon takes home wellness solutions to a whole new level. The day-bed like home spa uses the ancient art of color therapy and promotes relaxation to enhance rejuvenation. The soothing therapeutic ambiance allows users to refresh themselves by simply taking a calming nap in the Concoon which uses an array of therapeutic colored light to ease physical and psychological pressures.

Presence XL Speakers

Created by Bodor Audio+, Presence XL Speakers make the otherwise drab and industrial-looking entertainment unit look antique-like and elegant. Made to cater to each individual’s taste and décor theme, the set of detailed hand-made equipment serve as standalone pieces of interior décor as well.

Desk lamp by Jesse Lee

Inspired by the humanitarian efforts of Scott Harrison, founder of Charity:Water, the ‘Powered by Sport’ Desk Lamp by designer Jesse Lee looks to provide underprivileged children of the third world with a source of physical activity by and a source of sustainably-powered lamp by night. The soccer ball that forms on half of the design comes with a Faraday rechargeable battery that gets recharged when children play it. This battery can be removed and used to power the LED desk lamp that is provided with it to help children study or do other work by night.

Dock Speaker by Sung uk Kim

For retro music lovers, Sung uk Kim’s Dock Speaker set is a must have. Designed to resemble the reel used in audio cassettes of yore, the piece is the ultimate statement in minimalism and nostalgic design.

Self-righting Alarm Clock

Created for people who hate getting up in the morning and struggle to switch off the alarm, the buoy-like self-righting alarm by designer David Locke doesn’t flip over which makes it perfect for folks who tend to knock alarm clocks off the nightstand. The ergonomics of the design introduces an element of playfulness into classic watchmaking designs making the interesting timepiece even more fun.

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