Stuff Gadget Awards 2014: The BMW i8 is the Design of the Year

Out of all the tech eye candy that arrived in 2014, you felt it was BMW's sleek eco-mobile that looked the sweetest
The BMW i8 is the best designed product of the year

Call us shallow aesthetes, but we like our gadgets to strive towards icon status.

The trouble is, only a select few are blessed with the necessary sprinkling of stardust. And of the easy-on-the-eye products that we came across in 2014, one stood out above the others: you've voted the glorious BMW i8 the best-designed product of the year.

READ MORE: See all the Stuff Gadget Awards 2014 winners

Winner: BMW i8

Stuff Gadget Awards 2014: Design of the Year

It’s very rare for a concept car to make it to production without all the interesting bits getting hacked off, but BMW’s designers were obviously so taken by their efforts that the differences between 2009’s Vision EfficientDynamics prototype and the i8 are remarkably hard to spot. And who can blame them? Whether it’s the scissor doors, the rear cutaways or the way its instruments turn red when you put it into sport mode, the i8 is a car designed for the future that exists today. And all with the (almost) guilt-free emissions of a boring five-seater.

READ MORE: BMW i8 review

Runner-up: Apple Watch

Stuff Gadget Awards 2014: Design of the Year

Great design is as much about fine detail as a lust-worthy whole. So while you've probably seen smartwatches that look like the Apple Watch, you won't have used an interface as elegant as the 'Digital Crown'.

It's subtle, unobtrusive and lets you move things around the screen without using your stupid fat fingers. The Watch's nuanced 'taptic engine' has bags of potential too.

READ MORE: Apple Watch hands-on review

Runner-up: HTC One (M8)

Stuff Gadget Awards 2014: Design of the Year

From a distance, the HTC One (M8) doesn't look like a radical break from smartphone school of rectangular design. But look a little closer and you'll find it's packed with geek-pleasing details. From the cool, smooth aluminium build to the meticulously machined speaker grille, it's that rare thing – a gadget that out-Apples Apple.

READ MORE: HTC One (M8) review

Runner-up: Motorola Moto 360

Stuff Gadget Awards 2014: Design of the Year

Top of most people's smartwatch feature wishlists is 'looks like a watch'. Where its bulky, square-faced rivals have failed, the Motorola Moto 360 succeeds. Its classic round face is matched by premium build quality and the choice of stainless steel or leather straps. It might even be good enough to replace our Fossil Wrist PDA.

READ MORE: Motorola Moto 360 review

Runner-up: Ninja Sphere

Stuff Gadget Awards 2014: Design of the Year

No Design of the Year list is complete without an entry that looks like an imposter from the set of Prometheus. This alien artefact more than fits the bill, mixing Flight of the Navigator chic with the rather useful ability to act as the hub for your smart home. With gesture controls and compatibility with the likes of Sonos and Philips Hue, the Ninja Sphere is as futuristic as it looks too.  

READ MORE: Ninja Sphere is set to take over your home

Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

Stuff Gadget Awards 2014: Design of the Year

Since the demise of Nokia there's been a noticeable lull in crazy phone design. Fortunately, the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is here to pick up the baton with its wraparound display, which acts as a second screen or contextual tool bar. Whether it's just a novel stepping stone to truly flexible smartphones is debatable – either way, the Note Edge is a refreshingly original slab of phone design. 

READ MORE: Samsung Galaxy Note Edge review

Runner-up: Volkswagen XL1

Stuff Gadget Awards 2014: Design of the Year

Other electric cars might offer more driving excitement, but none are more futuristic than the XL1. From the covered rear wheels to the wind tunnel-honed trailing edges, every line has been sculpted to reduce drag. It even replaces airflow-disrupting wing mirrors with cameras. Now that's attention to detail.    

READ MORE: See all the Stuff Gadget Awards 2014 winners