2011 GOOD DESIGN AwardsEvery year, around this time, we begin checking our emails with a little bit more urgency and excitement because it’s right around the end of December, beginning of January that the esteemed Chicago Athenaeum’s Museum of Architecture and Design presents its prestigious GOOD DESIGN award to those manufacturers who have shown excellence in product design across a number of categories. As a luxury brand marketing and PR agency, we work hard at DRS and Associates to make sure our clients’ products are seen in the right light by the right people at the right time. This means the right editorial, the best publications and the award designations that are the most meaningful. The GOOD DESIGN award bestows international recognition upon the world’s most prominent designers and manufacturers for advancing new, visionary, and innovative product concepts, invention and originality, and for stretching the envelope beyond what is considered ordinary product and consumer design.

The award, presented annually, has been given out for excellence in design since 1950, when it was first founded – by iconic architects Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames and Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. These pioneers recognized that good design didn’t happen in a vacuum, and their initial awards ceremony has grown exponentially since its founding. Companies such as 3M, Alessi SpA., Apple Computer, Inc., BMW, Steelcase, even Tupperware (who doesn’t count Tupperware as ‘good design’) have all won awards for their exemplary designs.

“From its modest start in 1950 at The Merchandise Mart in Chicago,” states Christian K. Narkiewicz-Laine, Mu­seum President, The Chicago Athenaeum, “GOOD DESIGN has become the world’s most prestigious barometer for the most innovative consumer and domestic products, branding, and graphic design on a global scale.”

Well over 500 GOOD DESIGN Awards were given out in 2010, and in 2011, the number was even larger. Record numbers of submission were sent by thousands of design firms and corporations. So when not one, but three of our own clients received notice that their products had been chosen – you can imagine the pride we felt.

We hope you can forgive us if we crow just a bit about the products under the DRS ‘umbrella’ that have earned their place in the pantheon of other great GOOD DESIGNS:


Laufen Tuna Washbasin


Who wouldn’t love working with a client who not only has amazing design sensibilities but also enough of a sense of fun to name a product after a fish? LAUFEN’s TUNA washbasin, borrowing from the graceful curves of its namesake, is an imaginative and timeless piece that holds just the right touch of sensuousness and eccentricity combined in its sleek and contemporary design. TUNA offers a marriage of soft and fluid lines, a clean white finish, and an ample counter – it’s yet another example of LAUFEN’s creative use of ceramic design. And did we mention that it’s named after a fish? We did, didn’t we?

Zephyr’s Next Generation Range Hoods with DCBL Suppression System

Zephyr Milano Range Hood

Zephyr’s Next Generation Range Hood with DCBL Suppression System

Our client Zephyr, already known as the innovators of design-forward ventilation hoods, unveiled revolutionary new range hood technology in 2011 with their DCBL Suppression System (pronounced DeCiBel.) Aside from the already award-winning contemporary design of the hoods themselves, this ‘Next Generation’ of hoods is equipped with the industry’s first direct current (DC) brushless motor, Bloom HD LED bulbs which have a 25,000 hour lifetime, and an on-board computer that optimizes the range hood’s performance. Need we say more – I mean we can – we can talk about how, Zephyr hoods requires 77% less energy, and we can tell you that the Bloom HD bulb never gets hot…never, and this part is music to many ears – Zephyr’s DCBL hoods are 77% quieter than other hoods! Oops…I guess we were gushing again!

Vola’s Round Series, imported by Hastings

Vola Round Series

Vola’s Round Series

We can also go on and on about Vola’s iconic faucet design – itself the winner of awards too numerous to mention. To us, the measure of a company’s ability to maintain that strong design aesthetic throughout its entire line is really what separates the wheat from the chaff. The new Round Series is pure Vola: sleek, minimal and uncluttered. Available in black or white, the waste bins and tissue dispensers sit flush against the wall — framed only by a metal ring in polished chrome or brushed stainless steel. So clever — updating products that to some might be given short shrift. Nothing is too small to be re-imagined. While Hastings is not the manufacturer of this product, they certainly must be given credit for being clever enough to be the exclusive importer and distributor of the Vola line here in the United States…and they have been for many years. Someone’s paying attention to good design!

Let’s face it, DRS and Associates is fortunate enough to represent some of top manufacturers in the world of architectural products marketed in North America. We feel it’s just a matter of time before each one of these industry leaders are recognized for their excellence.

Congratulations to our current winners and thanks for giving us more to talk about. To learn more about these products, please feel free to contact us — because we are bursting with pride!