From South London to Germany: Celebrating our Red Dot Design Awards

This year, two Cambridge Audio products – Melomania 1+ and Evo – have won the prestigious Red Dot Award for Product Design. We travelled to the Red Dot Museum to celebrate with other winners during Red Dot Design Week 2022.

From South London to Germany: Celebrating our Red Dot Design Awards

As we’re on the train from Dusseldorf to Essen, Ged Martin admires the functional design touches of our seats – the fold-out bin tucked under the small table, the plug sockets next to the seats. Also, the fact it’s a double-decker train. There’s a tidiness and smartness to the layout of everything, which doesn’t escape his notice.

As the lead product designer on Evo, one of our two Red Dot Design Award winners this year, Ged has achieved a career milestone, having imagined winning one of the prestigious awards while at university. Evo is now listed alongside Melomania 1+ in the Red Dot Yearbook, both online and in physical copies. A statement from the jury states that Evo “impresses with carefully selected materials. They reference the past and at the same time point to the future.”

As someone who takes his design inspiration from everything from Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles for Design to kitchen countertops, getting to explore the Red Dot Museum and the 2022 Red Dot Design Award winners ahead of its opening to the general public is an exciting prospect. We wander around for hours, as Ged takes in everything from smart home control panels (he prefers those with buttons that give a tactile response) to Ferraris. Everything, and the kitchen sink.

Ged taking a photo of a green sink

The Red Dot jury is correct that the materials used in Evo were very deliberately chosen. Ahead of designing Evo, Ged and the team attended design and interiors shows, with a deliberate intention of designing an all-in-one streaming amplifier that would look at home in a wide range of living rooms. Sustainable material Richlite – also used as an alternative to ebony in guitars – ended up being one of the two choices of side panel, alongside the walnut wood that references our first ever product, the P40 amplifier.

Ged adds: “From the very first concept of Evo, we were focused on trying to make the form simple enough that we could use the kind of sheet materials you would on a high-end interior design project, or a piece of furniture. We were looking at materials such as Corian, Durat, and Fenix NTM, which are often used for countertops, and then we found Richlite. I love it and would like to do more with it in the future.

“Often during a project you investigate further and sometimes find a critical reason why a material isn't suitable, but Richlite just passed every hurdle. We wanted Evo to complement and fit in with people's tastes and having swappable side panels allows this.”

Ged shares how a draft brief for a product will develop as they research existing products, current design trends and identify customers’ needs and wants. “We basically try to empathise with the end user,” he says.

It’s that process that leads Evo’s front to have a large display alongside a dual concentric knob, which Ged says “was a major challenge to get right”.

“So for example, the second dial of the knob is not physically attached to a pot. We chose to do this so we could get the exact click feel we wanted. Instead, it has a laser printed set of lines on the rear that is read by a photo reflector, which is set back slightly in the unit. As the knob goes through one click, the information is communicated to the unit and then shown to the user by the source symbol moving concentrically on the display. To get something like this working well is quite complex, but hopefully worth it to the listener.” 

He adds: “We made a conscious decision to invest in the physical parts that people still interact with, although a lot of interaction is done with our phones now. I think it's important that when you do touch the knob or the remote, that it gives you the reassurance that this is a quality product, and that you enjoy using it.”

Ged pointing at the Evo on display

Alongside Dieter Rams’ principle that “good design is as little design as possible”, Ged is also inspired by the likes of designers Naoto Fukasawa, Jasper Morrison and Jacob Jensen, all of whom have won Red Dot Awards of their own over the years, for products including watches, spectacles and kitchenware. Now, he gets to be an award-winning peer of his muses.

Congratulations Ged!