This year, you couldn't be blamed for getting caught up in design that's all surface with no substance. As the world makes it easier for anyone to cheaply prototype and market their seemingly brilliant idea, the link between what looks good and what works well seems to be weakening. In this way, the role of the designer—as craftsperson, as storyteller, as fabricator—becomes even more important. Today's products and experiences have to look attractive enough to entice consumers in a saturated market, but the best ones also manage to solve big systemic problems around materials, manufacturing, and efficiency. These 2011 innovations all feature the perfect marriage of design and technology, reminding us that the greatest design is not only beautiful, but functional as well.