Designs on a simpler life

Image of Tyler Brûlé

Just when you thought you were safely out of awards season (have you actually met anyone who’s seen Lincoln yet?), along comes another round of recognition for all those people who go that extra mile to help remove the frustrations that somehow manage to damage daily life.

That’s right, gentle reader, the Fast Lane is launching “Lids” – or the Life Improving Design Awards. Due to be announced this time next year, the Lids will honour all those companies, designers, governments and policy folk who work tirelessly to remove obstacles, enhance routines and get you moving faster.

While darting around Asia over the past week I drew up a list of categories and potential nominees who might have made the cut, had the awards been up and running this year. Some quick scribbling came up with the following:

Best innovation for keeping up appearances The skincare industry doesn’t make very much money out of me, as I’m not that convinced by the powers of lotions and potions, but I have to admit that the clever folk at Fujifilm are on to something with their Astalift series of preservation products.

Smoothest shuttle for getting around town and catching up on lost sleep Toyota’s Alphard or its Vellfire. Most of the time I’ll opt for a Mercedes or BMW to get around New York or Milan, but when in Hong Kong or Tokyo I’ll opt for an Alphard with business class-style reclining seats to grab naps between appointments.

Magazine with the mostest While there are plenty of magazines I look forward to every month, the renewed and hugely improved Popeye is the one title for which I count the days until it next thumps down on my desk.

The people who make my morning My days are always better when they can start with a coffee and a brief chat with Blandford’s Café owner Jessica and her famiglia in Marylebone. I’m now trying to find equivalents in my most frequented ports but it’s proving a challenge.

Winning weekender Cloudless days at Bagni Fiore. If you’re also of the opinion that deserted beaches are vastly overrated because they lack basic services (a well-stocked bar, tidy toilets, loungers and cabana boys) and usually involve too much sand, then you’re probably an ideal guest for the Bagni Fiore – one bay over from Portofino. Full of leathery old dears who play cards all day in their jewels while puffing away on dainty cigarettes, it’s not everyone’s idea of life on the Med and I’m absolutely fine with that.

Looking ahead to the official launch in 2014, I’ve worked up a series of categories built around the challenges most of us face directly or indirectly as we go about our daily drill. In no specific order, some of the key areas where the judging panel will be looking for innovators:

Lighting With no end in sight for shocking, hugely unflattering energy-saving lighting (no amount of Fujifilm products will help), the Lids judges will be looking for someone to develop a personal lighting device that will allow individuals to create their own private ambience in the office, on the plane or at dinner. It could be an app that transforms light settings or a bulb that projects its own attractive glow to fight the cold glare of LEDs.

Babies on board The Lids committee noted earlier this week that Japan is a much nicer place to move around by foot because parents tend to carry their children rather than push them in supersize buggies. Judges will be looking to award prizes to governments that introduce congestion charges for jumbo-size buggies or bonuses for parents who carry their offspring rather than wheel them about.

Brushing up Why is it that so few hotels have toilet brushes in their rooms? Is it a cost thing? Should it be the job of the housekeeping staff to keep bowls clean? We think not. The Lids judging panel will be looking to award a prize to a chain that puts tidy bowls first.

Public undress system The French are supposedly trialling a mass X-ray-style system that will be able to scan thousands of commuters/ travellers/concertgoers at once to see who might be carrying potentially lethal material. This is an invention that can’t hit the market soon enough.

Power projection The Lids would like to recommend a Nobel nomination for anyone who will design a projector that always works the second that it is switched on and a laptop is connected. As troublesome projectors are among the most stressful hiccups of daily worklife, we might even lobby the new pope for a possible sainthood for said saviour.

Tyler Brûlé is editor-in-chief of Monocle magazine

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