“It was overwhelming, in a positive way, to see so much good work in most of the categories,” Scott Arrowood said. “When you consider the hours behind all the beauty—concepting, type choices, meetings, etc.—it is naturally humbling.”
“We are bombarded with the message that everything is online, but there were so many wonderful artifacts that begged to be held and read,” Sean Adams said. Paul Kepple added, “The entries during the final elimination round were impressive, making some of the decisions very difficult.”
“I was most impressed with the integrated branding projects,” Arrowood said. “The ability to walk that fine line between striving for a unified look and serving up some tasty variety is enviable. This year’s entries did not disappoint.”
“To me the packaging category stood out as being the strongest, with many great examples of interesting and highly creative work,” Janet DeDonato said. “Likewise, the motion graphics category had some wonderful examples of new and fresh thinking.”
There were also some disappointments. “We hear so much buzz about eco-friendly and green packaging, but surprisingly, applying these practices to actual projects was at a minimum,” said Pamela Zuccker. “There were certain trends that presented themselves over and over,” David Schimmel said. “Styles and content felt repetitive and made it difficult to identify any one piece within a genre.”
“The annual report category was smaller and less creative than it once was,” said Michelle Sonderegger. “You can tell that technology and the economy are having an effect on this segment.” Brian Owens added, “It is a sign of the times that we judged as many motion graphics entries as we did annual reports.”
“The key drivers for change are social networking media, new technology, sustainability and an embattled economy squeezing design budgets.” —Michelle Sonderegger
The jurors also expressed some opinions about the field as a whole. When I asked how the design profession could change its image from a service provider to a true collaborator in the business process, Schimmel was brief. “By identifying its ability to help clients increase sales while focusing on building relationships and providing deep insights,” he said. “Design will continue to be increasingly measured in terms of ROI and its impact on furthering clearly defined business objectives,” DeDonato said.
“In my experience, once you’ve demonstrated that you get the bigger picture that executives are facing, and you build that credibility, clients are more than happy to make design part of—and often drive—their business decisions,” said Jason Schulte.
Despite challenging economic conditions, many jurors expressed optimism about the future. “Designers are collaborating with everyone from healthcare workers to architects demonstrating how, through emerging tech-nologies, we will communicate, collaborate and be productive,” Zuccker said. “Distilling these life-changing technologies into forms that we can adopt as part of our lifestyle/workstyle will be a pivotal opportunity for designers.”
“I think (hope!!!) this shift to digital media will create an increased appreciation of printed media,” Kepple said. “There will be an increased demand by consumers that what is produced has some special quality that warrants its physical, printed existence.”
“This is the most exciting time in history to be a designer,” Adams said. “We can work in a huge array of media, we have access to enormous amounts of information and inspiration. But we must not allow our community to fracture into hundreds of tiny tribes. Working together, we can maintain our dedication to excellence and creativity.”
“It will be increasingly important for designers to prove their worth as conceptual thinkers, idea generators and visual communicators.” —Paul Kepple
“Business and academic leaders agree that creativity is one attribute that endures in both science and design,” Sonderegger said. “Design will continue to be essential to communications and effuse all media.”
“Buckminster Fuller got it right when he said, ‘A designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist,’” Schulte concluded. “We’re part of a profession that has the power to shape culture and change the world.”
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. 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 nine 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 ninth vote.
I would like to thank our jurors for their conscientious efforts in making the selections for the 50th Design Annual. —Patrick Coyne ca
Sean Adams is a partner at AdamsMorioka in Beverly Hills and New York. The firm's work has been recognized by every major competition and publication including AIGA, D&AD, Communication Arts, Graphis, the New York Art Directors Club and Step Inside Design. Adams has been cited in I.D. magazine as one of the 40 most important people shaping design internationally and is a past national president of AIGA. He is a Fellow of the Aspen Design Conference, an AIGA Fellow and teaches at Art Center College of Design. Adams is the author of Logo Design Workbook, Color Design Workbook and the Masters of Design series.
Scott Arrowood is the founder and designer at Arrowood Inc. (formerly known as AND Design Capitalists) in Salt Lake City, Utah. After graduating in design from Brigham Young University, he worked at several firms as a designer, creative director and partner. His work has been recognized by publications such as Communication Arts, Graphis Design, Graphis Logos, The One Show, Print and was selected for I.D. magazine's annual listing of design innovators. Arrowood teaches design at Brigham Young University and enjoys lecturing at universities and other organizations. He lives in Salt Lake City with his multiple children and one wife.
Janet DeDonato is the founding partner of Methodologie, Inc. a Seattle-based brand communications firm whose work has been recognized by every major design competition and publication in the nation. Prior to founding Methodologie in 1988, DeDonato was vice president of design at Spangler Associates in Seattle. DeDonato has served on the national board of directors of the APDF, is a past national board member of AIGA and a past president of the AIGA Seattle Chapter. As managing partner, DeDonato is responsible for strategic planning and oversight of the firm's operations and provides strategic direction to key clients and projects.
Paul Kepple is the principal and creative director of Headcase Design, a design/illustration studio in Philadelphia that specializes in publishing. Kepple has worked on elaborate tie-in books for the hit Broadway shows Wicked, Avenue Q and Spring Awakening, as well as for HBO's Deadwood and The Sopranos, which celebrated the pop-culture phenomenon and was released to coincide with the show's final season. Headcase Design has been recognized by AIGA's 365 and 50 Books/50 Covers, American Illustration, Communication Arts, Graphis and Print. Paul has been teaching part-time at Tyler School of Art-his Alma Mater-since 1998.
Brian Owens is the managing principal of RBMM, the identity and design affiliate of The Richards Group in Dallas. Since joining the firm in 2001, Owens has led large corporate identity and branding assignments for clients across a wide range of industries. His work has been recognized on both the national and international stage by Communication Arts, Graphis, How and Print. Owens received a BA in Spanish and history from Washington & Lee University, and then studied design at The Creative Circus in Atlanta. He now serves on the board of trustees for The Creative Circus, and speaks at design programs at schools around the country.
David Schimmel is president and creative director of And Partners in New York City. Graduating in 1998 from Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in art and business, he was hired by Y&R Advertising as design director. Schimmel founded And Partners in 1999. He serves on the advisory board of Portfolio Center in Atlanta and teaches at SVA in New York City. A member of the New York City Board of Education's Advisory Committee since 1999, he was honored for his dedication to the Virtual Enterprise program. Schimmel has been featured in Communication Arts, Graphic Design USA, Graphis, How, I.D., Print and Step Inside Design.
Jason Schulte is founder and creative director of San Francisco-based Office. The studio's work has been internationally recognized by nearly every major graphic design competition and publication, and has appeared in museum exhibitions around the world. Schulte is also a directed study advisor at the San Francisco Academy of Art University, and Fast Company featured him as one of fourteen designers to watch in its Masters of Design issue. He grew up in Green Mountain, Iowa (where there's no actual mountain) and is a graduate of Iowa State University's College of Design. He lives in San Francisco with his wife (and Office president) Jill Robertson and their foster dog Elvis.
Michelle Sonderegger is a founding partner of Design Ranch in Kansas City, Missouri. Design Ranch has been featured in several national and international publications such as Communication Arts, Graphis, Novum and Print. and has received awards from respected institutions such as the American Advertising Federation, AIGA and Type Directors Club. In 2005, Design Ranch launched a product line featuring three exclusive brands: Design Ranchables, Meangirl and Pantease. Sonderegger earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. She has taught senior graphic design studies at the University of Kansas and is currently serving on the UMKC graphic design advisory board.
Pamela Zuccker is a partner and co-founder of Principle, a multidisciplinary design agency. Together with her partner, Allyson Lack, the two founded Principle, a new model design partnership with "offices" wherever the principals of Principle happened to be. Following a six-year sojourn in Québec, Zuccker recently returned to the U.S. to open an office in northeast Pennsylvania. Zuccker's interest in design began at the University of Michigan where she pursued a fine arts degree. Following, she signed on with Portfolio Center in Atlanta. The work of Principle appears in the recent publication Women of Design, other commercially available books and on top design forums.