Prescott and I went to the Red Dot Design Museum yesterday, home to all things related to the Red Dot Design Award. This international product design and communication award has been around since the 1950s, when it was founded by the Design Zentrum in Essen, Germany. They have had a Red Dot Design Museum in Essen for nearly as long — and in 2005, the organization opened its second museum right here in Singapore.
This smart home robot (a 2016 award winner) gives a short speech that welcomes visitors to the museum:
Unfortunately, the museum does not have the space to house many actual objects (or maybe it just doesn’t have a very large collection — it looks like most of the fun stuff is in the Essen museum). Instead, the Singapore museum largely consists of big posters that show you 2-D versions of the award-winning artifacts.
Seeing posters does not have the same effect as standing in front of the real thing. So when we did have the chance to interact with objects — like this electric violin — we were pretty happy.
A few of the other objects on view include compressed grass that can be used to make egg cartons …
… a “monolithic axe” and a model of a “sharing luggage transportation system” …
… and this “versatile lighting concept” (which won Best of the Best in 2018):
Some of design innovations at the museum look pretty significant, like a robotic aperture that helps stroke victims learn to walk and a remote control system for commercial marine vessels. We found other award-winners somewhat more puzzling. These included:
- A “wisdom spoon” that intelligently identifies the type of tea to suggest the best brewing method (though there were a surprising number of design awards devoted to the proper brewing of tea);
- A strap-on vest with an LCD screen (Prescott called this a “digital sandwich board”); and
- A wearable device that prevents the user from eating too much by amplifying the sound of chewing (really???).
Some award winners made me laugh, like the Angry Bottle Cap:
And others made me smile, like this design for a Ferris wheel that would take its riders under water:
The museum is very small — you can easily get through it in under an hour, and the gift shop takes up nearly as much space as the displays. There’s also a cafe that serves waffles with ice cream and beautiful little cakes:
It’s not a great sign when you find yourself enjoying the cafe and the gift shop more than the museum itself. Still, the museum was a nice enough diversion, and it’s fascinating to see what’s going on at the forefront of the design world.
Once the rain subsided, Prescott and I left the cafe and headed out for a walk along Marina Bay …
… where we stopped for a while to play at the giant mirror-balls in front of the Asian Civilizations Museum.
We also paid a visit to this piece of art, but Prescott was unimpressed (he called it the car dealership statue):
Our walk ultimately took us to The Proof Flat by EC Proof, the first real liquor store I’ve found in Singapore.
The store is set up in the second floor of a shophouse, and they’ve set up the front space like you’re actually in someone’s living room. It’s all very refined — and very, very expensive.