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And the award for WORST design goes to…: Prize to honour inventions that have HARMED the planet is launched

Inventions for a greener world, life-saving medical devices and soaring skyscrapers are often seen as the pinnacle of achievement for engineers, designers and inventors.

But until now there has been no recognition for the people that created iconic guns or effective gas-guzzling machines that harm the environment.

Now, The Dead Prize has set out to highlight the individuals and companies that have created objects which have a detrimental effect on the planet, whether the fruit of their labours was a harmful success or an epic commercial failure that has left the world a worse place.

Set up by Cameron Sinclair, the cofounder of the nonprofit Architecture for Humanity in London, which uses design to address humanitarian crises, the harmful objects and botched projects in the running for an award will be nominated by the general public.

‘We often critique the surface of a design solution. Is it pretty? Is it cool?’ he told Quartz, ‘But rarely do we take a pragmatic view on whether a design solution has improved life. Has it caused harm?’

Nominees for The Dead Prize will include bad architecture, industrial design and engineering, which has ‘created a negative impact on either the user or the community as a whole.’

This means that well designed objects that cause harm, such as guns and tanks could be in the running alongside useful inventions with unwelcome side-effects – such as aeroplanes or clothes that support bad working conditions – and badly designed, essentially useless projects, such as sprawling concrete housing estates that people hate living in.

‘In the past decade we have seen an explosion of honours and awards for the most innovative and forward thinking solutions,’ he writes on the prize’s website.

‘Yet no one recognises the projects that have caused harm to the environment – designs that are helping shorten our existence on this planet. This is why we created The Dead Prize.

‘Let’s recognise the bad, honour the failures and hopefully do something to rectify these designs against humanity.’

People can nominate inventions until November 1 on Twitter, using the handle @deadprize. So far no designs have been submitted.

‘When a gem comes in we might ask you to write a blog post as to why you deem it a failure,’ the prize’s website says.

Mr Sinclair insists that the prize is ‘not meant to be disparaging,’ but sets out to highlight poor and harmful design so that inventors will think about the consequences of their creations.

‘We don’t believe in being negative, our focus is to discover what the benchmark is to design against or getting a better understanding of how a design failed or was intentionally harmful,’ he said.

‘It is our hope that like-minded designers see these failures as a challenge to create something new, to correct the mistakes of the past or to find the antidote for the project in question.’

Mr Sinclair said that he will try and reach out to nominated designers and companies to ask what went wrong, or why they engineered such a harmful product. He said that designers can even nominate their own creations.

A team of judges from the fields of design, health, education and the media will shortlist nominations, before an overall winner is selected in early 2015.

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