Gorillaz animator is in the running for the prestigious designer of the year award

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The Independent Online

Gorillaz have already won prizes and sold millions of albums and now the animator behind the virtual band is in the running for the design world's equivalent of the Turner Prize.

Jamie Hewlett, 37, who conceived and designed the artwork,

website and animated performances for Gorillaz since their launch in 1999, was shortlisted yesterday for the £25,000 designer of the year prize.

His competition for the prestigious award will be Tom Dixon, the furniture de-

signer, The Guardian newspaper, and Cameron Sinclair, an architect who works in disaster-struck communities. Announcing the list yesterday, Christopher Bailey, the creative director of

Burberry who is a judge, said it was a "true indication of the breadth, depth and creativity of design in the UK today. Though often not immediately apparent, design affects everything we do. The shortlist reflects this, and the strength of the UK's design talent."

Alice Rawsthorn, director of the Design Museum, London, which organises the award, said Gorillaz were a huge phenomenon in music and entertainment.

Hewlett, who had previously created the comic book anti-heroine Tank Girl before joining forces with Damon Albarn, had produced a "really compelling and engaging collection of characters". But with the album Demon Days, he had taken the project "many steps further," she said. "His use of technology in the last year has been quite extraordinary in terms of imagination and innovation, both on the website, which is updated daily, and in performances. It took 30 animators and music-makers over three months to create the performance for the MTV awards."

Tom Dixon, 46, was shortlisted for furniture and lighting designs for his company, Tom Dixon Ltd, and for other companies including Artex, the Finnish furniture-maker. He has also championedyounger designers at Habitat such as Ulrika Jarl.

"He's obviously been a very influential British designer for many years but 2005 was extremely prolific for him," Ms Rawsthorn said. "He has started to do a lot of work in sustainable design, working with recyclable materials. He has produced some really ingenious exemplars of that which are as gorgeous and engaging as his other work."

The Guardian, which followed The Independent this year in moving to a smaller format, was shortlisted for "one of the most ambitious corporate design projects in redesigning a newspaper from scratch," Ms Rawsthorn said.

The final contender was Cameron Sinclair, 33, a London-born and educated architect who now works in America where he co-founded Architecture for Humanity.

This has established a global network of humanitarian designers and architects who use sustainable design solutions to help crisis-hit areas.

They have constructed schools, medical clinics and community centres in the south-east Asian countries that were hit by the tsunami a year ago, and are now involved in tackling the problems caused by Hurricane Katrina in the United States and the earthquake in Kashmir.

Ms Rawsthorn said: "They really do work on the frontline of design. They're like design's Médecins Sans Frontières. Wherever there's a disaster, they move in and they work with local people to find the most appropriate solution. It's really nice to reclaim Cameron for Britain."

An exhibition of the contenders' work will run at the Design Museum from 4 March to 18 June. A public vote will count towards the choice of a winner which will be decided by a judging panel including Kevin McCloud, the television presenter, and Hilary Cottam, who won last year for her use of design in the public sector.