Dezeen Magazine

Dezeen's 10 biggest architecture and design stories of 2015

In the final instalment from our review of the year, we've collected together our most-read stories of 2015 – including self-lacing trainers, the "end of fashion", driverless cars and a drip-free umbrella (+ slideshow).

1. Nike plans to launch Back to the Future shoes

Back to the future Nike Mags shoes in NYC

Sports brand Nike kicked off the year by revealing plans to release real-life versions of the self-lacing trainers that originally appeared as a prop in the 1989 film Back to the Future II.

It was the first in a slew of announcements to mark Back to the Future day on 21 October 2015 – the day that the film's main characters travel to from 1985 in their Delorean time machine.

A pair of the Nike shoes did appear on the day, on the feet of actor Michael J Fox who played the main character Marty McFly in the film, but the design has yet to go on sale. meanwhile, Designers told Dezeen that Back to the Future had created a "self-fulfilling prophecy" for today's interactions and objects. More about Nike's Back to the Future shoes »

2. "It's the end of fashion as we know it" says Li Edelkoort

Li Edelkoort

Lidewij Edelkoort, one of the world's most influential fashion forecasters, declared that fashion was dead and described the fashion industry as "a ridiculous and pathetic parody of what it has been".

Edelkoort used her annual presentation at Design Indaba in Cape Town to fire a strongly worded broadside at the industry. "Fashion is insular and is placing itself outside society, which is a very dangerous step," she said in an interview with Dezeen after her presentation. More about the "end of fashion" »

3. Driverless cars could spell the end for domestic flights, says Audi strategist

Audi's RS 7 driverless car

Sven Schuwirth, vice president of brand strategy and digital business at German car brand Audi, told Dezeen that self-driving cars could disrupt the airline and hotel industries within 20 years.

If the technology is approved for public roads, people will be able to sleep in their vehicles while travelling, meaning short-haul and domestic flights and hotel stays will become unnecessary. More about the impact of driverless cars »

4. "Drip-free" umbrella encloses wet canopy on the inside

The KAZbrella drip-free umbrella by Riann Kazim

This design for an umbrella that folds inside-out – keeping water droplets inside as well as allowing it to open and close in confined spaces – captured the imagination of Dezeen readers.

The KAZbrella's popularity online has helped the designer Jenan Kazim put the KAZbrella into production, with preorders now being taken for 2016. More about the KAZbrella »

5. Glass-bottomed swimming pool to be suspended 10 storeys above south London

Glass-bottomed swimming pool to be suspended 10 storeys above south London

In August we revealed plans for a glass "sky pool" to be suspended between apartment blocks in London's new Nine Elms quarter, close to Battersea Power Station.

The 25-metre-long transparent glass pool will link two blocks of apartments that form part of the 2,000-home Embassy Gardens development by London architects HAL, allowing residents to swim between the two buildings. Since the design was unveiled, more tower-connecting swimming pools designs have been unveiled in India and Paris. More about the Nine Elms "sky pool" »

6. Beyoncé-inspired skyscraper to be built in Melbourne


In July, Australian officials granted planning permission for a curvy 226-metre-tall Melbourne tower with an unusual design inspiration.

Architects Elenberg Fraser told the world that the curving and bulging form of the skyscraper was an homage to the undulating fabric-wrapped bodies of dancers in Beyoncé's music video for Ghost. More about the Beyoncé-inspired skyscraper »

7. 21 Grams is a sex toy that contains the ashes of a dead partner

21 Grams by Mark Sturkenboom

Sex and death have traditionally been controversial subjects when it comes to design. Mark Sturkenboom managed to combine the two in his "memory box" containing a glass phallus designed to encase 21 grams of the ashes of a dead loved-one.

The box would also contain mementoes like a ring, a scent diffuser for perfume, and an amplifier to allow its owner to play the song that most reminds them of the deceased. More about 21 Grams »

8. Kanye West debuts first Adidas collection and Yeezy Boost trainer


After months of speculation, musician Kanye West finally unveiled his debut fashion collection with Adidas, which he described as the world's "first solutions-based" clothing line.

The garments ranged from flesh-coloured body-hugging outfits for women to baggy sweatshirts for men, and included West's hotly anticipated Yeezy trainers. The trainers sold out almost instantly when they went on sale. More about the Yeezy Season 1 collection »

9. Grillagh Water House by Patrick Bradley is made up of four stacked shipping containers

Grillagh Water House architecture dezeen

Shipping-container architecture remained popular in 2015, and this Northern Irish house built from four used storage units was the most-read completed building project on Dezeen.

Designed by architect and farmer Patrick Bradley for a site on his own farmland, the house took advantage of a loophole in planning laws and was featured on TV show Grand Designs. More about Grillagh Water House »

10. Pornhub's Wankband "creates dirty energy"

Pornhub Wankband

It might have only been a jokey concept, but this wearable tech idea for a wristband that would create energy from masturbation sparked a huge amount of interest.

The Wankband would harvest the kinetic energy generated by repetitive up and down movements. It was dreamt up by online pornography resource Pornhub, which described it as "the first wearable tech that allows you to love the planet by loving yourself." More about Pornhub's Wankband »