“I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a broader range of entries from smaller, more independent studios,” juror Sarah Moffat says. “It was also great to see the representation of smaller clients with smaller budgets where creativity really has the opportunity to shine.”
“Considering the challenging circumstances of the competition being midpandemic, I thought that it was a strong selection of work overall,” says juror Gareth Howat.
“There were a lot of entries and a number of outstanding projects,” juror Cara Ang says. “It was easy to pick out the better ones, but I had to deliberate over the final selection.”
“I’m a drinks packaging specialist, so I was really interested in innovative glass ideas, and there were a few of those, as well as branding that I hadn’t seen before,” says juror Kevin Shaw.
“We have gone from an abundance of strong gig poster design in 2010, which led to an abundance of strong beer packaging in 2015, which has now led to an abundance of strong cannabis packaging in 2020,” juror Tad Carpenter says. “The quality of design on these platforms is the same, yet the canvas has changed.”
I asked the jurors what surprised them about the entries.
“The caliber of the student submissions blew me away,” says Moffat. “In particular, the student work demonstrated fresh new approaches to animation and illustration.”
“I believe that design students nowadays have had experience working with design earlier, which is always a good thing,” says juror Samia Jacintho.
“I was quite surprised to see a fair number of book and editorial entries,” Howat says. “Perhaps that means there is a trend towards more tangible, physical designs as well as digital, which I feel is a good thing.”
“I was surprised by the sophisticated mix between craftwork and technology on the same pieces,” says juror Arutza Rico Onzaga. “You could see a book cover with laser cuts and hand sewing at the same time and with the same perfection. Beautiful.”
“Online judging was challenging and a bit of an impediment to creating a first impression,” juror Renata Graw says. “It was like discovering a city via Google Street View first rather than being able to understand the overall structure. But once I spent more time with the entries, I encountered delightful surprises.”
I also asked the jurors about their biggest disappointments with the entries.
“The menu category,” says Onzaga. “It used to be an enjoyable selection where you could find a lot of experimentation in mater- ials like wood, paper, fabric and much more. Also, you could see a delicious use of typography. This year, [no menus] are represented in the Annual.”
“The poster category was disappointing,” Graw says. “Sure, there were some nicely executed ideas and solid designs, but I was expecting fresher ideas in this category. Another disappointment was finding the same template used to present different projects. I think there were at least 20 instances where I saw the image of a hand holding a tote—same hand, same tote, different design. As creators of images, what are we telling the world if we all use the same ones?”
“If any one category disappointed me, it would be trademarks and logo systems,” Carpenter says. “The ones that were chosen for the Annual are fantastic, but strong, clever conceptual trademarks seemed to be lacking compared to previous years.”
Juror Dylan Staniul agrees. “I was surprised at how few inspiring logos there were,” he says. “The logo is still a fulcrum around which much of graphic design pivots, but perhaps there are too many other areas graphic designers need to apply themselves to today.”
“I was disappointed with the standard and felt like I was judging work that could have been done more than ten years ago,” juror Vince Frost says.
“I also noticed a good amount of projects that could belong in different decades of the Design Annual,” says Graw. “There is a bit of nostalgia for the physical world going around. I guess looking back has always been part of shaping the future.”
“Considering that we had entries from all over the world, and that each of these places has unique visual cultures, it is curious to see that the vast majority of packaging designs were clearly based on North American culture,” Jacintho says.
Looking to the future, the jurors dis- cussed how technology will impact design.
“Just as technologies of past eras have shaped communications and aesthetics, future ones will do the same,” says Staniul. “Designers inevitably rely on the technologies available to them when responding to social or business developments. For the foreseeable future, graphic design will continue its trend toward being something we interact with online.”
“I see technological innovations moving design very quickly,” Graw says. “Printing is not the most important way to share information anymore. I think we are more comfortable starting a project on social media and then translating it to a print piece instead of the other way around.”
“Artificial intelligence will obliterate the majority of graphic design roles in the very near future,” says Frost. “Companies like Canva don’t look like a threat right now, but they are beavering away at removing the need for designers. Adobe’s efforts to reduce grunt work are equally contributing to the demise of designers. People keep saying that this will remove the stuff that you don’t want to do, but not everyone is a creative director. The bulk of designers are implementers.”
“Technology will continue to be asked to solve a lot of the problems we see today,” Carpenter says. “But design solutions that are people focused, putting empathy on a pedestal as a true core value, will always rise to the top.”
The jurors also discussed design’s role in a rapidly changing society.
“Current events of 2020 have put a spotlight on social and corporate responsibility,” says Staniul. “The subject matter is often sensitive and politically charged. Graphic design can help convey complex, nuanced concepts in ways that are approachable and digestible.”
“The design community needs to be more aggregational,” Jacintho says. “Seek to understand, respect and celebrate other visual cultures that are not from the developed world. That’s a good place to go.”
“Our firm is involved in pro bono projects to aid agencies for change, like the ACLU and NAACP, because we’d all like to see more diversity in our industry,” says Shaw. “We’ll be working with schools to encourage people to pursue careers in design. The entire design industry could do more to help the overstretched education system.”
“The social issues we are currently facing as a global community are having a huge impact on society,” Moffat says. “Design as a tool for communication has its work cut out—it can build a bridge or a fence. There is so much we want to say to each other, from simple acts like washing your hands to expressions of emotion surrounding the complexity of racial equality. Being able to cut through the clutter with clarity and purpose is key. This doesn’t alter the role of design; it merely emphasizes its importance.”
“Not surprisingly, there were a lot of COVID and social issue entries, and I think there is no doubt that design will drive awareness to address a range of issues that society is facing,” says Howat. “There is an opportunity for design to help make a real difference in the future.”
“Every designer has to ask herself or himself the question of what it means to be human and how these values can be expressed through design,” Onzaga says.
A minimum of six out of ten votes was required for a project to be awarded in this year’s competition. I would like to extend our grateful appreciation to our jurors for their conscientious efforts in selecting our 61st Design Annual. —Patrick Coyne ca
Cara Ang has been design director for Singapore-based Asylum since 2001, where she manages a multidisciplinary team of designers and divides her time between creative conceptualization and design direction. Her diversified portfolio of international and local projects includes environmental design, wayfinding systems, and interior design for retail and offices, as well as a wide array of print and branding projects. Her works have won numerous local and international awards, including from Communication Arts, D&AD, the One Show and the Singapore Design Awards. Ang started her design career at Ogilvy & Mather and Bartle Bogle Hegarty before joining Asylum in 1999.
Tad Carpenter is a designer, illustrator, author and educator based in Kansas City, Missouri. Carpenter coruns the design and branding studio Carpenter Collective with his wife, Jessica Carpenter, where they focus on bringing powerful messages to life through branding, packaging, illustration and design. They have worked with Adobe, Coca-Cola, Target, Macy’s, MTV, Conan O’Brien and Old Navy, among many others. Carpenter has also worked with numerous bands on posters and tour campaigns for more than ten years, and has written and illustrated more than 20 children’s books intended for adults and children of all ages.
Vince Frost is a globally recognized and awarded designer. Before starting Frost* Design in London in 1994, he was the youngest associate director at Pentagram. In 2004, Frost relocated to Sydney, Australia, where, as chief executive officer and executive creative director of Frost*collective, he has worked with leading arts and cultural organizations, governments, and businesses to help bring visionary ideas to life. Frost is the author of two books, including Design Your Life, which looks at how design has the power to positively transform not just business, but our daily lives. His popular Design Your Life podcast discusses this theory with design visionaries from around the globe.
Renata Graw is the founder and lead designer of Normal, a small, independent team of creative thinkers based in Chicago, Illinois. Prior to forming Normal, Graw was a cofounder and partner at Plural, the award-winning Chicago studio she coled for eight years. Originally from Brazil, Graw received her BFA from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica in Rio de Janeiro and her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She studied typography under Wolfgang Weingart at the Basel School of Design. Her work has been recognized by AIGA 365, the Art Directors Club, Communication Arts, Eye, Print and the Type Directors Club.
Gareth Howat cofounded London, United Kingdom–based hat-trick design in 2001. He has extensive experience leading design projects for clients such as the Edinburgh International Festival, Kew Gardens, the Natural History Museum, Sweden’s National museum, the University of Westminster and Wimbledon. He has worked with Royal Mail for more than 20 years and has designed over 100 postage stamps. He serves on the design advisory board for Ravensbourne University in London. In his spare time, he completes miniexpeditions each year, such as skiing across Svalbard in the Arctic, an unsupported trek in Greenland and quad biking exploration trips in Iceland.
Samia Jacintho is a graphic designer and a creative and art director at Casa Rex, a multi-award-winning graphic design studio based in São Paulo, Brazil, where she creates visual identities, editorial projects, objects and illustrations. The studio also develops its own series of projects in its small print workshop that combines research in visual culture with pushing the limits of visual language, seeking to expand the reach of graphic design beyond market efficiencies. Jacintho has also launched her own brand, Cor (@we.are.cor), where she creates limited editions of classic objects—from apparel to homeware—with striking features and exquisite finishes.
Sarah Moffat was born and raised in the north of England. After graduating from Kingston University, she joined global branding and design agency Turner Duckworth, working in the UK studio before joining the San Francisco team. Currently, as global chief creative officer, Moffat is responsible for the strategic and creative output of all three Turner Duckworth studios, in New York, San Francisco and London. Her talents have been acknowledged by multiple industry and peer awards, scoring her a shelf full of shiny trophies, including a Cannes Lions Grand Prix, a Grammy, and a collection of D&AD and One Show pencils.
Arutza Rico Onzaga is a graphic designer, strategist, educator and creative director of Bogotá, Colombia–based Arutza Design Studio. For more than sixteen years, the firm has created communication strategies for local and global brands so they may participate in society in a contemporary way. A graduate of Jorge Tadeo Lozano University, Onzaga has been influenced by modern art, poetry, novels, vintage graphics, psychology and Spanish graphic design. Her work has been recognized by Advertising Age, Art of the Menu, Bienal Internacional de diseño Madrid, Communication Arts, Dieline, Lápiz de Acero, the Latin American Design Awards and the Type Directors Club, among others.
Kevin Shaw founded Stranger & Stranger in 1994 in London, United Kingdom, after quitting his job as a designer at advertising agency Collett Dickenson Pearce. Stranger & Stranger is now one of the leading firms in the field of alcoholic beverage packaging, with studios in London, New York and San Francisco, and advises everyone from global brands like Jack Daniel’s and Absolut, all the way down to sole proprietor startups. Stranger-designed labels are printed on more than a billion bottles and cans every year, and the firm has won hundreds of awards while creating brands worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Dylan Staniul is a principal and creative director at Vancouver, British Columbia–based design agency Burnkit, which specializes in interactive, brand development, graphic identity, packaging and print design. Clients like Bensen, Bocci, Electronic Arts, Herschel Supply Co. and Veilance work with Staniul because he encourages them to engage with brand and digital concepts at the earliest stages of the creative process, inspires confidence and builds consensus between stakeholders for desired outcomes. For two decades now, Staniul’s work has been consistently recognized in competitions and publications including Applied Arts, Communication Arts, Graphex and HOW.