Earlier this month Leica Camera had the distinct pleasure of accepting the Travel + Leisure Design Award for the Leica D-Lux 5 Titanium Set, a special edition in the D-Lux line. Honored in the category of “Best Camera,” the D-Lux 5 Titanium Set was selected as one of 19 winners in the eighth annual competition and joins an elite group of standout new products, buildings and destinations that embody the many ways in which thoughtful design enhances and defines the travel experience.

“We are thrilled that the D-Lux 5 Titanium Set, which was created for connoisseurs of excellent design, has been selected for this honor. The ideal camera for those who love to discover inspiring moments when exploring the greatest cities in the world, the D-Lux 5 Titanium is the quintessence of style and is crafted from the highest quality materials,” said Christian Erhardt, Vice President of Marketing at Leica Camera, Inc. The winners of the Travel + Leisure Design Awards are featured in the magazine’s March issue and they can also be viewed online. We had the opportunity to interview Luke Barr, News Director of Travel + Leisure, about the annual awards.

Q: What’s your role with the 2012 Travel + Leisure Design Awards?

A: I oversee the design awards program and edit the story that runs in our March issue, in which the winners are presented. I also launched the awards back in 2005.

Q: What qualities were you looking for when you assembled the jury?

A: We always try to put together a diverse group of design-focused people, making sure that we have architects and interior designers, fashion and product designers, museum curators and others. This year’s jury was no exception, and included architect Billie Tsien, artist Michelle Oka Doner, fashion designer Derek Lam, interior designer Muriel Brandolini, Friends of the High Line founder Robert Hammond, and multi-disciplinary designer Paul Priestman.

Q: What criteria did the jury base their decisions on?

A: The jury looks for both innovation and functionality. Whether it’s a hotel room or a camera, the nominee in question really has to work. It may be fine for a hotel room to feel avant guard – like it came from somewhere in the future – but if you can’t figure out how to turn on the lights then it may not be the best example of good design.

Q: How have the design awards evolved from when they were first introduced in 2005?

A: We have added categories over the years, responding to what gets submitted. And five years ago we introduced the T+L Design Champion, an award given by the editors of the magazine, in consultation with our jury, to someone who has had significant impact on the worlds of design and travel. This year’s award went to H.E. Mubarak Hamad Al Muhairi, head of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and a moving force behind the many architectural developments there.

Q: How, in your opinion, does the D-Lux 5 exemplify practical and beautiful design?

A: Like all Leica cameras, the D-Lux 5 is a beautiful object to hold in your hand. It is also a state of art, professional quality digital camera.

Q: How does design impact travel? Can you give us a personal example of how design plays an important role when you travel?

A: In big ways, design impacts travel when we are mesmerized by a new museum or an amazing bridge; in small ways when we notice how smoothly our roller luggage rolls without tipping over.

Q: What is your favorite travel destination to photograph?

A: The Swiss alps!

Thank you Luke!

-Leica Internet Team

You can read more about the jury and other T+L Design Awards winners at travelandleisure.com.