“It was quite obvious to me after seeing all the entries this year that we are definitely in a new era of modernism in design,” said Dan Ibarra of Minneapolis-based Aesthetic Apparatus. “I’m really excited to be part of this time, when message trumps execution and simplicity in communication trumps some of the past standard consumerist misuses of ‘style.’”
“I did see a good deal of work that tried to be clear rather than stylishly remote (although there was still plenty of that),” added Rick Landesberg of Pittsburgh-based Landesberg Design.
“I found myself examining some pieces in the first rounds out of sheer amazement of how well crafted and difficult it must have been to bring some of the projects to completion,” said Tom Brown of Tom Brown Art+Design located just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
“I saw many designers returning to hand drawing and hand lettering, often combined with photography and fine typography,” said Jeff Matz of Lure Design in Orlando, Florida. “Many of those designs stood out from the traditionally slickly-produced pieces.”
The judges also provided some justifiable criticism. “I was really annoyed that many entries were presented so horribly or in the wrong category,” said Noreen Morioka of AdamsMorioka in Beverly Hills, California. “Isn’t our profession based on thoughtfulness and intelligence, that is well presented? It’s hard enough going after a job against three other design firms. Think about trying to get noticed in a crowd of 13,000.”
“The great brands of the future will not be brands but interactive cultures around which people resonate.” —Janine James
“I was surprised by the absence of serious consideration for environmental issues,” said Janine James of New York-based The Moderns. “Due to the extensive printing and packaging associated with the graphic design industry environmental awareness is not only relevant, it is of the utmost priority. Graphic design as a category is behind others in the industry in terms of ecological innovation. This must change.”
I asked the judges how designers can improve their position with clients as a collaborator rather than a service provider. Jeff Matz felt many designers have already developed a better understanding of how to communicate with their clients. “They seem to be as astute about business as they are about color, composition and typography. That is crucial in becoming marketing and positioning partners with our clients rather than vendors selling a commodity.”
Brian Boyd of Dallas-based RBMM disagreed. “True collaboration on business processes is about the last thing a designer should do. It would be like having a corporation’s top lawyer collaborate on the next TV spot (which they do). Most designers spend their lives in a netherworld somewhere between business reality and artistic idealism. This is what makes them great designers.”
“The designer sometimes needs to take a stand for what they are providing and if that is through battle, so be it,” said Dan Ibarra. Noreen Morioka agreed. “All of us need to be willing to lose work or challenge the client to go farther. Until then, our profession will just be another pair of hands.”
When asked about how graphic design may evolve in the future, Ann Willoughby of Kansas City, Missouri-based Willoughby Design Group expects to see a shift in what is needed from designers. “Our current trend of over-producing look-alike products and services in the developed world is not sustainable economically, environmentally or socially. As more lay people have access to design tools and knowledge that enhances their lives, designers have an opportunity to make ordinary experiences more beautiful, useful, meaningful and, for heaven sakes ‘simpler.’”
“My hope is more designers will realize their role as cultural mouthpiece and begin wielding that power for cultural, social and political advancement and not just the advancement of their bank accounts,” said Dan Ibarra.
“Designers should educate themselves broadly and not just train ‘for the profession.’” —Rick Landesberg
“Design revolves around being a multi-discipline profession,” said Janine James. “Through working with geo-political consultants, environmental engineers and social anthropologists, we will empower ourselves to create solutions and make profound differences in society.”
“Developments like increasing urbanization, Web-based and interactive entertainment, customization and globalization will, I believe, radically change the way we communicate through design,” said Brian Boyd. “It’s no longer about a brand focus, it’s about a customer focus—when, where and how customers live, work and play. It’s about cutting through the traditional messaging vehicles and getting to them in new, interesting and appealing ways. Most of my life, I’ve been working with printed media. Now, I’m dealing with all kinds of new and different media and clients and influencers who experience brands in their own ways and at their own discretion. It’s opened up a whole new world and designers will have to embrace it.”
As in past judgings, we employ a two-step process: screening and ﬁnals. For screening, the jurors work in teams of three, one team per hall (Jean Coyne, our executive editor, acted as our ninth judge due to a last-minute cancellation). Each hall is equipped with a projector and six rows of tables for print. All but the smallest categories are split into thirds so each team screens a third of the entries. The judges alternate between viewing projected images and a set-up of print entries.
During the ﬁnals, all nine jurors work together. Print entries are again spread out on the tables. Two paper cups, one white for “in,” the other red for “out,” with slots cut in the bottom, are placed upside down to the right of the pieces. The jurors vote by putting a different colored tile into the bottom of the appropriate cup. The colored tiles allow us to make sure that every entry is voted on by every judge.
Projected images are again voted on by each juror checking “in” or “out” on scoring sheets.
Judges were not permitted to vote on projects they were directly involved in. When a judge’s piece was in the finals, I cast the ninth vote.
I would like to thank our jurors for their conscientious efforts in making the selections for the 46th Design Annual. —Patrick Coyne ca
Creative director and managing principal
Brian Boyd began his career at The Richards Group in 1978 after graduating from the University of North Texas with a bachelor’s of fine arts degree in advertising design. He is a founding member of RBMM, where he is creative director and managing principal. He also has served as a consultant for Click Here, guiding Web site design for The Richards Group’s interactive subsidiary. Boyd’s work has been recognized in every major national and inter-national creative competition, including works chosen for inclusion in the Library of Congress. Brian has taught graphic design at his alma mater and Texas A&M Commerce.
founder and creative director
Tom Brown Art+Design
Tom Brown is the founder and creative director of Tom Brown Art+Design located in Port Moody, a small town outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The studio has specialized in the creation of award winning books and magazines since 1997. Beginning his career as a magazine art director, he ended up in New York redesigning Jann Wenner’s Men’s Journal and becoming the founding design director of Travel and Leisure Golf for American Express Publishing. Brown is currently the art director of Money Sense magazine, the consulting art director and designer of SKI magazine, and the creative director and designer of DestinAsian and Fine Interiors magazines.
Dan Ibarra is co-founder, with Michael Byzewski, of Aesthetic Apparatus, a two-man Minneapolis, Minnesota, design/print studio. The duo first met in 1998 at Planet Propaganda (formerly Planet Design Company) in Madison, Wisconsin. Combining their mutual interest in printmaking and music, the two began to build a ground-work of limited-edition hand-printed concert posters that gained enough recognition to convince them to uproot to the Twin Cities in 2002. They walk a fine line between design and fine art by hand printing all their own limited- edition print and poster work for clients and teaching design at Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Janine James is the founder/principal of The Moderns in New York City. Before founding The Moderns in 1992, James was director of design and product development for ICF. Prior to that, she worked at Swanke Hayden Connell and was part of the innovative design lab at Herman Miller’s London office. She lectures extensively on strategy-based culture-building and how companies can leverage sustainable practices to build brand equity and gain market share. She was recently a teaching fellow at Harvard University, also a keynote speaker at the AIGA Conference in Vancouver and a visiting Walsh professor at the University of Oregon.
Rick Landesberg founded Pittsburgh-based Landesberg Design in 1982. His ten-person practice provides branding and identity programs, print and interactive communications, and environmental graphic design and signage to clients including The Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations, The Heinz Endowments and Kenyon College. Landesberg has lectured on design issues nationally and abroad, and taught design at Carnegie Mellon University for fifteen years. Rick was a founding board member of AIGA Pittsburgh and is a member of the Association of Professional Design Firms and the Society for Environmental Graphic Design.
Jeff Matz is a founding partner of Lure Design in Orlando, Florida, a full-service design studio working in corporate communi-ca-tions, branding, packaging and book design. Most notably, Jeff has been recognized for his hand screen-printed posters for such artists as Wilco and the Dave Matthews Band. His work has been published in publications such as Communication Arts, Paste, Print and a number of books including Graphis Posters, Swag-Art Rock of the 90s, The Art of Modern Rock and Rockport’s One Color Graphics. A graduate of Ringling School of Art & Design, Jeff currently serves on the board of the Orlando chapter of the AIGA.
Noreen Morioka is a partner at AdamsMorioka in Beverly Hills, California. AdamsMorioka’s clients include ABC, Adobe, Gap, Old Navy, Frank Gehry Associates, Nickelodeon, USC, Sundance and The Walt Disney Company. In 2000, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exhibited the firm’s work in a solo retrospective. Sean and Noreen are both Fellows of the Inter-national Design Conference at Aspen. Noreen is a past president of the Los Angeles Chapter of AIGA and chair of the AIGA National President’s Council. AdamsMorioka’s book, Logo Design Workbook, was published in 2004 and their new book, Color Workbook, will be published later this year.
Ann Willoughby is the founder/president of Willoughby Design Group, a brand strategy and identity design firm formed in 1978. The firm provides strategic oversight for design programs for Fortune 500 companies as well as brand start-ups. Ann and her seventeen associates holistic approach to design and business is reflected in the company’s unique studio environment. The office, complete with a meditation room and the off-site Willoughby Design Barn retreat destination, helps attract and retain top creative talent and brings blue chip clients to Kansas City. Ann serves as a director on the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) National Board.
Kym Abrams Design
Kym Abrams founded Chicago, Illinois-based Kym Abrams Design in 1982 on a philosophy of doing great work for and with great people. Her firm collaborates with foundations, museums, publishers, educators and nonprofits to create integrated design and editorial strategies. Her work has received over 100 national and inter-national design awards from industry magazines including Communication Arts, Graphis, Print and AR100. She holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana. Abrams served as a board member of AIGA/Chicago and received Chicago Women in Design’s first Woman of the Year award.