The six winners in the Pinkoi Design Awards’ “Stylish” and “Designed” categories discuss the meaning of design.
What is design?
Some say that design is “solving problems by finding the optimal solution,” “a way of conveying a message,” or “the relationship between content and form”. As a platform, Pinkoi shoulders the task of connecting designers, brands, and the market, and believes that the purpose of design is to enhance the quality of life, and that quality can be divided into “beauty” and “function”.
Pinkoi believes that quality is not just a description of a product, but also represents its branding power. Therefore, we hope to find brands that can infuse their spirit into customers’ lives through style and ambience, creating beautiful connections between designers and customers. In light of this, we brought the “Stylish” and “Designed” Pinkoi Design Award categories to life in 2022.
Although their branding and products differ in spirit, it is clear that all three winners are masters at finding needs in the market by locating pain points within themselves and transforming those pain points into their brand’s goals and style.
Pinkoi Design Award—Stylish Grand Prize winner, HARU [photo: Pinkoi]
HARU: Bringing Sex Into the Light
HARU’s founder, Mancy, believes that “sex should be able to be discussed in the light of day”. Starting with a line of lubricants, HARU is using stylishly designed packaging to challenge the taboo around adult products and the status quo of sex products designed primarily with male users in mind. Ultimately, HARU aims to help women develop healthier modes of understanding themselves and discussing their bodies. Although HARU intended its main customer base to be young women, many men, couples, older women, and mothers have also become loyal customers.
Representing Hong Kong as a Pinkoi Design Awards judge, Javin Mo wrote of HARU: “Aesthetic excellence in packaging design is definitely the most attractive aspect of this brand. HARU’s ability to beautify sex products through design elements won them the highest award in the Stylish category and successfully drew the interest and acclaim of our panel.”
Pinkoi Design Award—Stylish First Prize winner, HMM [photo: Pinkoi]
HMM: Capturing the Beauty of an Ordered Life
HMM believes that a utensil is itself a kind of expression; each person’s choice of utensil represents their life philosophy and personal aesthetic tastes. All ideas for HMM’s stationery, household utensils, and coffeeware designs begin from the designer’s own observations. Thus, HMM creates visually timeless and durable products that can make spaces more orderly as a direct answer to genuine human needs. The judges all agreed that originality and a clear direction are among the brand’s greatest strengths.
According to Michael, the co-founder of HMM, “No matter how good the product design is, a maker with an artisan’s spirit must be there to implement it. Only then can a design’s beauty be fully realized in the product.”
To Michael, it is imperative to consult experienced craftspeople at all stages of production, starting from the product design and development phases and continuing all the way to the mass-production phase. With the craftspeople’s input, the brand can predict and address problems that may arise at each stage of production and maintain product quality to achieve ideal results.
Hong Kong’s Javin Mo has been keeping an eye on brands in Taiwan’s cultural and creative industry for quite some time. He wrote of HMM: “This brand has a fully international perspective, and is outstanding in concept, design, function, and marketing strategy.” Javin remarked that he noticed HMM products in several boutique shops while he was in Taiwan on vacation. Laughing, he admitted that he’d even purchased some of their products during his visit.
Pinkoi Design Award—Stylish First Prize winner, Le Brewlife [photo: Pinkoi]
le brewlife: Start Your Day in Color
le brewlife began their business by bringing the world’s best coffees back to Taiwan and sending customers to explore landscapes of flavor via colorful espresso packets.
However, le brewlife’s founder, Noelle, found that truly excellent coffee is hard to come by, and the most easily obtained coffee is often not the tastiest. After tasting the best brews from many countries, le brewlife shifted their focus to roasting their own premium coffee beans.
le brewlife uses patented coffee concentrate extraction technology to retain the flavor and aroma of specialty coffees so that anyone can enjoy a cup of delicious coffee anytime, anywhere.
le brewlife’s coffee beans, drip bags, and espresso concentrate packets provide better options for those who care about flavor and convenience. Thus, le brewlife has cultivated a loyal following of customers who enjoy le brewlife’s espresso concentrate during the workweek and brew their own coffee during weekends and holidays.
Mainland China’s Pinkoi Design Awards judge, Ark Hsieh, gave le brewlife the following praise: “le brewlife has a unique style and a defined niche.” Going forward, Hsieh recommended that le brewlife “host activities or pop-up shops so that more people have the opportunity to engage with their products.”
For our “Designed” category, we looked for brands that draw from real-life experiences to design indispensable lifestyle necessities. Though the competition in this category was fierce, uanuan, Simple Lab Experience, and BnnBee emerged as the three victors.
Pinkoi Design Award—Designed First Prize winner, Simple Lab Experience [photo: Pinkoi]
Simple Lab Experience: Natural Brewing Made Easy
Simple Lab Experience is a Hong Kong brand that studies contemporary tea culture and develops new tools and accessories for savoring tea, coffee, and wine to match the rhythm and tastes of modern life. To create “a more enjoyable drinking experience”, Simple Lab Experience observes natural processes and integrates concepts from physics into its brewing equipment designs to optimize the process of making tea and cold-brew coffee.
The transparent borosilicate glass used in Simple Lab Experience’s brewing accessories is both safe to use and beautiful. With Simple Lab Experience, customers can relax as they view the calming and visually fascinating process of their favorite beverage bubbling to flavorful fruition.
Pinkoi Design Award—Designed Grand Prize winner, uanuan [photo: Pinkoi]
uanuan: Sustainable Tableware with a Sense of Warmth
Challenging the contract manufacturing trend so popular in Taiwan’s industries, uanuan has developed a sustainability-minded designer tableware brand built on the latest stainless steel processing technology that incorporates elements of the Taiwanese lifestyle into its designs.
Thanks to their smart one-piece molded design, uanuan’s stainless steel lunch boxes have no sharp seams that could scratch hands and no pesky crevices that could hide dirt. Additionally, multiple compartments allow users to separate different dishes. The height difference between the compartments keeps flavors from mixing.
Taiwan’s Pinkoi Design Awards judge, Johanson Lo, said of uanuan: “uanuan has made small but powerful innovations on a definitive Taiwanese staple which have paved the way for new and exciting directions in design. To bring customers a better dining experience, they have taken the classic lunchbox and increased its washability, portability, and reheatability, as well as the quality of its surface material. Though these adjustments might seem slight, they’ve brought traditional tableware design to the next level. Instead of innovating for the sake of innovation, they’ve made the needs and experiences of users their priority. In this way, uanuan has designed table sets fit for this era.”
Contrary to the icy cold impression that stainless steel can give, uanuan regards their customers with the utmost warmth. They strive to create practical, friendly products to fit into their customers’ daily lives. In maintaining socially responsible and sustainable relationships that connect designers, manufacturers, and customers with the environment, uanuan leads people to adopt more eco-friendly lifestyles.
Pinkoi Design Award—Designed First Prize winner, BnnBee [photo: Pinkoi]
BnnBee Makes Honey Your Buddy
BnnBee has learned from 100 years of experience in the beekeeping industry that in order to change honey’s reputation of stickiness and inconvenience, they must package it accessibly.
Bnnbee created the “Drop Me” honey bottle with this in mind and were rewarded with the 2019 Red Dot Design Award Taiwan for the design’s innovation and creativity. The design’s brilliance is in its ease of use. The user simply points the opening of the bottle toward the ground and gives it a slight squeeze to activate the flow of honey. As soon as the user stops squeezing, the patented nozzle reseals instantly and keeps any stray drops of honey from escaping. This unique bottle design prevents messes and makes sure that your kitchen and the bottle itself remain clean and dry.
The “Back Up Me” honey refill pack solves the common problem of leaky refill packs with a small opening sealed with a twist-off cap closure. For this design, Bnnbee won the silver award in the packaging design category of the Muse Design Awards (a creative competition organized by the International Awards Associate).
Yu Yamada, the Pinkoi Design Awards judge representing Japan, remarked that he had never seen a honey product with such novel packaging design on the market before. Through design, BnnBee hopes to make the natural sweetness of honey a preferred alternative to artificial sweeteners and impress the world with the taste and quality of pure Taiwanese honey.
With their unique products, the above six brands lead us to consider the definition of design. Design is an aesthetic sense, a message, a tool for coming up with ideas, and a solution to problems. When we understand and choose a design for ourselves, it is as if we also send a message to the world. In the wise words of Anna Lappé, author of Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
Click here to learn more about our Pinkoi Design Award 2022 winners.