Tomorrow's world: Crazy, odd, utterly brilliant – it's all at the Designs of the Year show

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The Independent Online

As anyone with a good, old-fashioned 1970s childhood knows, in the future we are all wearing silver catsuits and zooming about on jetpacks. We know this thanks to Tomorrow's World, which ran for 38 years but ended when faced by a generation armed with the Nintendo Wii and no curiosity.

Fortunately for children of a more credible age, there is a new place to go to see the future. The Brit Insurance Designs of the Year exhibition, now in its second year, has brought together eccentric genius from all over the world. There is oddness in every genre: architecture, furniture, fashion... with paper chairs, mushroom palaces, and shoes that seem to be made of sugar lumps.

The exhibition was launched last week at the Design Museum, London, and award winners will be announced on 18 March. Tomorrow's World showed us glimpses of a sci-fi future (the breathalyser, ATM, compact disc) that seemed crazy then. And these exhibits are just as hard to judge. Will the remote control orchestra be 2050's digital watch? Will doggy dialysis become as passé as Teletext? A biodegradable dress? No chance. We'll be wearing tinfoil by then.

A storming umbrella

They can put a man on the moon, goes a familiar complaint, but they can't make an umbrella that doesn't blow inside out. The SENZ XL storm umbrella promises to change all that –and has specially patented eye protectors.

Hats (and coats) off to Dutch cloakroom

The museum cloakroom meets chair-o-planes in the new foyer at the Rotterdam's Boijmans van Beuningen Museum. It operates using an elaborate system of winches and pulleys.

Opera House raises the roof

The Oslo Opera House, seat of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, was designed with "social monumentality" in mind. The sloping, white, Carrara marble roof can be used to sunbathe, skateboard or ski into the Oslofjord.

Water ride makes a clean splash

The Aquaduct is an inventive solution to water sanitisation issues that could help billions of people around the world. It purifies water while you pedal, using only magic piping and the motion of the bike.

Animal magic

Respiratory Dog is, according to its designer, a mutually convenient alternative to euthanising retired greyhounds, and a step towards symbiotic bliss. The dog is a medical aid, sharing lung capacity with its owner.

Green politics

This is not Jonathan Ross's latest suit but a subversive mechanism for political protest. Using Hollywood Green Screen technology, you can project any message on to this backdrop. Its designer, Tony Mullin, hopes lime green will become the colour of dissent.