microchips lined with human cells named design of the year 2015
image courtesy of design musuem




‘human organs-on-chips’, a project designed by donald ingber and dan dongeun huh at harvard university’s wyss institute, has won the design museum’s design of the year award for 2015.


the microdevices are lined with living human cells that mimic the complex tissue structures, functions and mechanical motions of whole organs, promising to advance personalized medicine, accelerate drug discovery and decrease development costs. this is the first time that a venture from the field of medicine has been awarded the top prize in the design of the year competition, awarded annually by the london-based institution.



video courtesy of wyss institute




the winning project was chosen from over 70 nominated designs by a jury chaired by the established sculptural artist anish kapoor. ‘a really big idea,’ commented kapoor. ‘it incorporates technology and design to eliminate the problem of having to use animals to test a product. it feels like one of those questions of the future.’


‘one of the most important things about the designs of the year award is the chance that it gives the museum to explore new territory,’ explained design museum director, deyan sudjic. ‘the team of scientists that produced this remarkable object don’t come from a conventional design background. but what they have done is clearly a brilliant piece of design. they identified a serious problem; how do we predict how human cells will behave, and they solved it with elegance and economy of means, putting technology from apparently unrelated fields to work in new ways. they have perhaps unintentional created something that for a lay man seems to symbolize the essence of life and also happens to be beautiful to look at.’

design of the year 2015 design museum human organs-on-chips donald ingber dan dongeun huh designboom
the human organs-on-chips were nominated by paola antonelli
image courtesy of design museum




the human organs-on-chips were nominated by paola antonelli, MoMA’s senior curator of architecture & design and director of R&D, who called the project ‘the epitome of design innovation – elegantly beautiful form, arresting concept and pioneering application.’


all nominated projects, which span the fields of architecture, digital, graphics, fashion, product and transport design are displayed at the design museum until march 31, 2016.


the 2015 designs of the year category winners are as follows:


architecture: UC innovation center – anacleto angelini / designed by elemental
digital: the ocean cleanup / designed by boyan slat, jan de sonneville phd and erwin zwart
fashion: thomas tait aw13/14 / designed by thomas tait
graphics: inglorious fruits & vegetables / designed by marcel for intermarché
product: human organs-on-chips / designed by donald ingber and dan dongeun huh
transport: google self-driving-car / designed by yoojung ahn, jared gross and philipp haban


see here for designboom’s previous coverage of the shortlisted projects.