Person designed to survive car accidents is Designs of the Year nominee

Grotesque star of a road-safety campaign is nominated for Designs of the Year award

An interactive lifelike sculpture called Graham, the only "person" on earth designed to withstand a car collision, has been nominated for this year's Designs of the Year awards.

Commissioned last year by The Transport Accident Commission in Victoria, Australia to demonstrate human vulnerability in traffic accidents, Graham was made by Melbourne artist Patricia Piccinini in collaboration with leading trauma surgeon Christian Kenfield and crash investigation expert Dr David Logan.

Graham by Patricia Piccinini

Made from a combination of silicone fibreglass, concrete, human hair and steel, and weighing in at approximately 200 kilograms, Graham's unusual enhanced physique imagines what humans might look like had we evolved to withstand low-impact car crashes.

His enlarged skull is filled with extra cerebrospinal fluid and ligaments to protect the brain, while the neck – one of the most vulnerable body parts in a collision – has been removed entirely. Sacks have been placed between each of his ribs to create airbag-like cushioning and extra joints in his legs allow him to jump out of the way quickly.

Graham by Patricia Piccinini

Since his unveiling last year, Graham has been on a roadshow around the state of Victoria, which will conclude in February next year.

"The reaction to Graham has been overwhelmingly positive both in Victoria, nationally and internationally," Samantha Cockfield, TAC lead director of road safety, told Dezeen. "There were 31 million video views, 80,000 shares online, 1.9 million website views within the first few hours of launch, and Graham was the number-one trending topic on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit."

Graham by Patricia Piccinini

Cockfield said audience feedback showed that 99 per cent of those who saw Graham online and in-person believed that the human vulnerability message was important, and 77 per cent reflected on their own fragility when thinking about road safety and viewing Graham.

"He was the catalyst for conversation around the forces involved in common car-crash scenarios and highlighted just how vulnerable our bodies are to high speeds – a concept often complex and hard to communicate," she said.

Graham by Patricia Piccinini

As part of the campaign, the TAC developed and launched an online interactive educational tool that allows users to look under Graham's skin and understand the workings of his body.

Graham by Patricia Piccinini

Nominated in the digital category at the Designs of the Year awards, Graham is up against seven other projects, including augmented-reality game Pokémon GO by Niantic Inc and Google Noto by Google and Monotype – one of the biggest typeface projects in history.

The annual awards programme, for which Dezeen is media partner, celebrates the "world's best design". For 2017's Beazley Designs of the Year awards, there are 62 nominations split across six categories – architecture, digital, fashion, graphics, product and transport.

More images

Graham by Patricia Piccinini
Graham by Patricia Piccinini
Graham by Patricia Piccinini
Graham by Patricia Piccinini