If there were any doubts that design is going global, the 2004 awards quashes them. We have a Dutch company, Philips (PHG ), designing a clock radio in China for the Chinese and Asian markets. We have a Korean corporation, Samsung, designing microwaves for Americans who like their pizzas big -- too big, in fact, to fit in most microwaves. We have a South African firm helping design an automatic pool cleaner for the U.S. market. And yes, we even have a small New York design firm, Built NY, creating an easy way to carry two bottles of wine to any party anywhere in the world. That's cool.
Big pizzas don't fit into microwaves. Samsung added a rounded door, and now they do. It also put the controls on the door itself at a 15-degree angle to make it easier to use. $99.
Designer: Philips Design, China
Targeted at young Asians, this baseball-shaped clock radio has bright orange colors and wake-up sounds that include frog, buzzer, sonar, and music/news. The front rotates to tune in radio stations. $20.
Designers: Zodiac Pool Care; Henk & I, South Africa
Specially designed rudders and sails and only one moving part make this automatic pool cleaner simple and longer-lasting than competitors. Bright colors make it stand out. $449.
NY BYO BAG
Designer: Built NY
Take bonded nylon/neoprene, to provide insulation and shock absorption, add fun colors, stitch the material so it carries two wine bottles in separate pouches so they don't clink but do stand up, and you get a great product. $16.50.