Stormzy vest and 3D Covid virus among Designs of the Year nominees

A vegan burger, the 3D rendering of the virus causing Covid-19 and the union flag stab-proof vest worn by Stormzy are contenders in the Designs of the Year, which its curator says tells the story of a tumultuous 12 months before the coronavirus pandemic.

The Design Museum in London has announced the 74 nominees for the 13th annual exhibition and awards, which are drawn from designs created throughout 2019 and up to January 2020.

Other contenders include Lee Ha Jun’s set design from Parasite, the Oscar-winning South Korean film directed by Bong Joon-ho; and the sound design from Bafta, Golden Globe and Emmy winning Sky/HBO series Chernobyl.

Emily King, the prize’s curator said this year’s nominees are all connected by the common theme of “social justice” and provide a snapshot of the world just before the Covid-19 pandemic changed it completely.

“In a sense the theme is ‘the year’, and we’ve arranged chronologically, almost as a sort of countdown to the virus,” she said. “We’ve got quite a few popular entertainment, things like Chernobyl, but even those address social justice.”

Video installation Us & Them projected on gauze, part of the Designs of the Year exhibition at the Design Museum. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

As usual the award is broken down into six categories: architecture, digital, fashion, graphics, product and transport, with other shortlisted designs including the online viral dance crazes of TikTok to the border crossing pink see-saws that bridged the US-Mexico frontier.

King added that the vest worn by Stormzy during his headline Glastonbury set in 2019 and designed by artist Banksy, was one of the stand-out designs in this year’s prize, which was first held in 2008. “That was a major TV moment. It was so striking, you couldn’t miss it,” she said.

Other fashion nominees include Fredrik Tjærandsen’s balloon dresses which were part of the Norwegian designer’s undergraduate degree show at Central Saint Martins, while the Impossible Burger 2.0 – which is made from plant-based proteins – was recognised in the product section.

The final design to be included is a 3D model of the Covid-19 virus, which was commissioned by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January.

King said two other designs that stood out were the the Water Box mobile filtration system, which was used in Flint, Michigan, to purify the city’s polluted water supply and The Uncensored Library, a vast open library contained within the computer game Minecraft.

The Water Box mobile filtration system. Photograph: Felix Speller/Design Museum

Its creators made the library accessible in Russia, Vietnam, Mexico, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in order for people to get hold of information on the gaming platform that would otherwise face censorship.

“People play Minecraft worldwide, but government censorship doesn’t really operate within the game. So [the designers] realised that they could create a repository for documents that are set within their own country,” said King.

Previous winners of the contest include a self-driving shuttle bus, by Muji and Sensible 4, Catch, an HIV detector device by Hans Ramzan, and in 2018, the architect David Adjaye won for his work on the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC.

• The Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition is at the Design Museum from 21 October until 28 March.