“Two projects that really stuck out both used paper in an innovative way that I have never seen done before,” juror Liz Burnett said.
“Experiential design (in environmental and public service) really stood out,” juror Jake Lefebure said. “People have to interact to be satisfied today—reading, or even just looking, does not cut it.”
Praise from the jury was not universal.
“The number of designs that used retro or Americana styles to communicate was surprising,” juror Richard Colbourne said. “It made me wonder if perhaps there is a sense of nostalgia among designers right now.”
“I did see some nice design but, unfortunately, I didn’t see anything that was truly innovative,” said juror Joel Templin.
“I was surprised at the lack of quality of some of the work,” Burnett said. “It was as if some of the entrants had never picked up a CA magazine before.”
While we recommend in our submission guidelines to submit printed samples of multi-page projects, not all entrants complied, which frequently disappointed the jurors.
“I was surprised to see the amount of beautiful graphic design coming from ad agencies. They appear to be placing greater value on the craft of design.” —Claire Dawson
“There were many times that I wished we had a hard copy of an entry to review,” Dawson said. “In a number of cases, the details, ideas and concepts of pieces just weren’t communicated.” Lefebure agreed. “I understand the cost-saving aspects of submitting work digitally, but some of the work (especially annual reports, books and brochures) would have been better to see, touch and feel when judging.”
Looking forward, I asked the judges what business, cultural and social developments will alter the role of design in the future.
“Society has become such a visual place that it will become even harder to make brands stand out from the crowd,” Burnett said. “The challenge, as it has always been, will be to communicate clearly in an effort to cut through the clutter and be memorable in the minds of consumers.”
“No doubt mobile will dominate in the coming years, and how we push/interact with the content will be the game-changer,” said Lefebure. “There’s so much information that we get bombarded with and so little time! It’s going to be a very tricky place for a designer to balance the creative and cash snafu since mobile is so young and untapped in most of the world—uncharted territory really.”
“Technology has definitely made it a lot more complex in terms of how a design firm needs to execute or deliver on its creative,” Templin said.
“Everything needs to be able to translate across all sorts of outlets or devices, engage people in numerous ways, be interactive, etc.”
So where is the field of design going?
“I enjoyed seeing graphic design bleeding into video, and vice versa. The moving image is the art of our generation and design should harness that.” —Richard Colbourne
“There will always be a need for print, but you can definitely see by the percentage of entries this year that things continue to shift more and more toward digital or interactive,” Templin said. “The creativity now is how the idea or concept is evolved to span a wide range of touch points, media and devices.”
“Graphic design is more exciting now than at any time in my career,” Colbourne concluded. “The convergence of disciplines allows for greater social and emotional impact in real time. Where design is going is constantly changing, but that’s the joy of being a designer.”
As in past judgings, we employed a two-step process: screening and finals. For screening, the jurors worked in two teams of three, with editor Jean Coyne acting as the sixth screening judge. Two halls were equipped with projectors for digital images and six rows of tables for print. Each team screened half of the entries.
During the finals all five 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 ensured that each entry was voted on by every judge. Jurors voted on projected images by checking “in” or “out” on scoring sheets.
Judges were not permitted to vote on their own projects. When a judge’s piece was in the finals, Jean or I cast the fifth vote.
I would like to thank our jurors for their conscientious efforts in making the selections for the 54th Design Annual. —Patrick Coyne ca