Design can shake up conventional product categories and carve out entirely new ones. These award winners illustrate how design can achieve strategic market transformations -- in and out of high tech. Any brand category can be dramatically altered, from boots to guitars. It all depends on how well companies use design strategically inside their organizations.
iRobot Roomba Discovery Floorvac
Designers: iRobot Corp.; Herbst Lazar Bell Inc.
Friendly design increases the appeal of the robot beyond tech lovers to mass-market consumers. The vacuum is simple to use and requires no programming. $249.
"Open Architecture" Electric Guitar
Designers: RKS Design; RKS Guitars
The pickup selector and volume and tone knobs are intuitively located next to the play area. The guitar uses much less wood from the rain forests, is lighter, and sounds as good as the iconic Gibson Les Paul. The bold, colorful design does more with less. From $2,500.
Nike Considered Boot
Designers: Richard Clarke, Mike Aveni, Steve McDonald, Nike Inc.
A single piece of hemp is woven through the boot's three leather parts. The sole and upper body snap together without adhesives. Materials are recyclable and made near Asian factories, helping local producers. No two pairs are alike. $110.