“Initially I was blown away by the sheer volume of entries,” said juror Christian Helms of Austin, Texas-based The Decoder Ring Design Concern. “I doubt the average reader grasps what 10,000 posters, logos and books actually looks like.”
“The strongest work overall were the books and publications categories, but I was impressed with some of the motion graphics as well,” said juror Kevin Wade of Madison, Wisconsin-based Planet Propaganda. “I really liked some of the three-dimensional ideas,” added juror Terri Wolfe of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Wolfe Design, Ltd. “There was great thought involved to create something structural and dimensional. It often enhanced the idea.”
“I was shocked, and I think moderately appalled, by the lavishly over-the-top production that was put into some of the brochures, particularly those for the housing market,” said juror Sarah Nelson Forss of St. Paul, Minnesota-based Werner Design Werks. “Designers have to do smart design from the ground up. It’s not just appearance that matters. Is it user-friendly? Is it economical? Is it ecological? Is it really a smart answer? Good design should be an integral part of the structure, not merely a coat of paint on the surface.”
Speaking of ecological, “It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the next three years will be dominated by society going green,” said Burkey Belser of Washington, DC-based Greenfield/Belser. “The design community can take a proactive role in the health of Mother Earth.”
“Companies must build a culture of design rather than try to buy design as an add on.” —David Turner
When asked about the future, several jurors cited the need for the profession to have greater involvement in their client’s work, but also greater responsibility. “Design companies need to lead the charge to new business models where the hourly rate is replaced by shared risk and reward,” said juror David Turner of Turner Duckworth in San Francisco, California. “Ours is a profession in transition,” added Belser. “Design is struggling to go from the bottom rung (‘make it pretty’) to the top rung (‘affect our bottom line’). In my experience, most designers are completely unprepared for anything other than ‘make it pretty.’”
How can designers affect the bottom line? Wolfe was succinct, “Listen more. Understand the client’s business. Advise thoughtfully. Don’t talk about PMS colors.”
“As awareness of design’s value grows, we have seemingly unlimited opportunity to create content and tell bigger, broader stories,” Helms said. “Our challenge is to do that in a way that’s honest and that serves not only our clients but the public good as well.”
“Service first. Earn trust and respect. True collaboration comes only with a strong relationship.” —Kevin Wade
As in past judgings, we employed a two-step process: screening and finals. For screening, the jurors worked in teams of three, one team per hall (due to a last-minute cancellation, Jean Coyne, our executive editor, acted as the ninth juror during the screening round). Each hall was equipped with a digital projector for images and six rows of tables for print. All but the smallest categories were split into thirds so each team screened a third of the entries. The judges alternated between viewing projected images and a set-up of print entries.
During the finals, all eight jurors worked together. Print entries were again spread out on the tables. Two paper cups, one white for “in,” the other red for “out,” with slots cut in the bottom, were placed upside down to the right of the pieces. The jurors voted by putting a different colored tile into the bottom of the appropriate cup. The colored tiles allowed us to make sure that every entry was voted on by every judge.
Projected images were again voted on by each juror checking “in” or “out” on scoring sheets.
Judges were not permitted to vote on projects with which they were directly involved. When a judge’s piece was in the finals, Jean or I cast the eighth vote.
I would like to thank our jurors for their conscientious efforts in making the selections for the 48th Design Annual. —Patrick Coyne ca
Kim Baer is founder/principal of KBDA, a multidisciplinary design studio in Los Angeles, California. Consistently honored by every major design and business organization in the country, KBDA has produced work that has been featured in the Library of Congress and published in numerous design compilations. National design publications, including Communication Arts, Graphis, How, Print and Step Inside Design, have showcased the firm’s work and methodology. The firm’s client list ranges from nonprofit organizations to consumer companies. Baer frequently judges design competitions and speaks at design conferences across the country. She recently received the Fellows Award from the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) in honor of lifetime achievement.
president and creative director
Burkey Belser is the president and creative director of Greenfield/Belser, a brand design agency located in Washington, DC. He has won hundreds of awards in every major field of graphic design: identity, collateral, Web and periodicals. In 1997, Belser was awarded a Presidential Design Award by President Bill Clinton for his design of Nutrition Facts, the nation’s food labeling system, which the New York Times reported to be the most frequently published design of the 20th century. Belser served for two years as the president of the Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington and has been quoted on brand design topics by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and dozens of industry publications.
Werner Design Werks
Sarah Nelson Forss, a graduate of Moorhead State University, is one half of the two-person design team of Werner Design Werks. The Minneapolis-St. Paul studio has projects that range from book design, posters and promotional materials to package design and identity development. Their work is part of the permanent collection at Toronto’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs. They were named Target’s “Vendor of the Year” in 2002 and have been recognized with awards from the American Center for Design, the Art Directors Club, AIGA, Communication Arts, I.D., Print magazine’s Regional Design Annual and the Type Directors Club.
Michael Gericke is a designer/partner at Pentagram Design. Gericke was educated in graphic design at the University of Wisconsin. After graduation he moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he produced projects at Communication Arts Inc. Gericke joined Pentagram’s New York office in 1986. He has received many accolades from design associations and museums, including Fortune magazine’s Beacon Award for the creation of outstanding strategic design programs. His identity, promotional and poster work appears regularly in international design exhibitions and is represented in various permanent museum collections. He served on the Executive Committee of the New York Chapter of the AIGA and is a frequent lecturer at universities and professional organizations.
co-founder and president
The Decoder Ring Design Concern
Christian Helms is co-founder and president of Austin, Texas-based The Decoder Ring Design Concern, a multidisciplinary partnership founded in 2004 with roots in the music industry and retail design. A graduate of Portfolio Center and the University of North Carolina, he began his career as an intern for Michael Bierut at Pentagram. Before moving to Texas, he served as a founding member of Project M, John Bielenberg’s experimental collective for socially-conscious design. Helms lectures across the country, and his work has been featured internationally in publications including Communication Arts, Graphis, I.D., Identity, Metropolis, Print and Step Inside Design.
co-founder and principal
Turner Duckworth design offices
David Turner is co-founder and principal of Turner Duckworth design offices in San Francisco, California, and London, United Kingdom. In the eighties, Turner studied design at St. Martin’s School of Art in London and spent the next ten years based in London working on projects in the U.K., Europe and Japan. Then he founded Turner Duckworth with Bruce Duckworth in 1992. Almost immediately he left for America in pursuit of his future wife Ellen, and Turner Duckworth became international. Turner Duckworth’s work has consistently been recognized by the design industry’s leading publications and competitions but, being English, he’s a bit uncomfortable blowing his own trumpet.
co-founder, principal, creative director
Kevin Wade is co-founder, principal, creative director of Planet Propaganda in Madison, Wisconsin. His work has earned him wide recognition, including a Grammy nomination for Best Package Design, awards from publications such as Communication Arts, Graphis, How, I.D. and Print, as well as publication in dozens of design books. Most recently, Planet Propaganda’s work was included in the Smithsonian/Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum Triennial. Wade recalls receiving a degree in visual communications from Eastern Illinois University, but hastens to add, “That was a long time ago.” In addition to his visual aesthetic and philosophical contributions to Planet, Wade composes and produces soundtracks for many of Planet’s television and motion graphics projects.
principal and creative director
Wolfe Design, Ltd
Terri S. Wolfe is principal and creative director of Wolfe Design, Ltd, a communications consultancy and graphic design firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The work of the firm has received national and international design awards from the most esteemed design competitions including American Institute of Architects, Communication Arts Design Annual, Communication Arts Design for the Public Good, Congress for the New Urbanism Charter Awards, The Council on Foundations Silver and Bronze Wilmer Shields Rich Awards, Graphis and Print magazine’s Regional Design Annual. Wolfe received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design from Kent State University in 1986, with an outside interest in writing, architecture and the environment.