• Sg_2
Graphic Design

Is it nice that?

Guest posted by Sarah Gottlieb,

The other week I was invited to participate in a panel debate held in conjunction with the Most Beautiful Swiss Book exhibition in London organised by the Helvetic Centre, this year they had chosen to also exhibit the Best British Design and Production Award. We were to compare the two book design competitions.

This got me thinking about design competitions in general. I have a hard time making up my mind about them. Are they self-indulgent or do they add something valid(critical) to design?

It seems difficult to ignore the subjectivity of design competitions. The jury will inevitably have their own aesthetics, design background and opinions about what is good and what is superb. This is also the point and hopefully why they got appointed in the first place. Taking the Most Beautiful Swiss Book and the Best British Design and Production Award as a starting point, they both award beautiful book design, but the books presented in the individual competitions are as far apart as they could possible be. This is probably due to a number of things; the difference in jury members and their professional background, the costs of competing – one is free and one has a fee – or that one is funded by an industry organisation and the other by a cultural governmental institution. So how can one talk about best book, best poster, best website, best film when there are so many competitions where the agenda is as subjective as the projects submitted?

Last night I watched X-factor, the ultimate competition within pop music and undoubtedly one of the most successful TV-shows nowadays. Interestingly enough the judges bickered what the competition actually was about; whether it was how great a singer the contestants were, how well he or she performed, or how much the public loved them. Perhaps the most important thing within competitions is a very well established agenda?

Arguably, the point of competitions is that they can function as a great marketing tool for the winners, yet within todays realm of designers, design students and design aspirants own blogs and websites, and with other blogs dedicated solely to picking “the best of”, is it still relevant to have design competitions?

If competitions are the way to get an A+ from the ubiquitous school of design, what institution does this A+ allows us to enter?

Sarah Gottlieb moved to London from Denmark to study Graphic Design, which culminated in an MA at the Royal College of Art. She works as an independent graphic designer, keeping her hands busy with Household, a collective she sat up in 2008 with George Wu and Dario Utreras, their work often sparks from the cross pollinating nature of graphic design. www.house-hold.org

Comments

12942304233054025 Gareth_Wild on Tue Nov 10th 2009

In 10 years I have entered 3 design competitions - D&AD on two occasions and this year's Benchmark Awards. No wins.

I haven't entered more because it's rare for me to produce work that genuinely addresses the client brief AND matches the criteria for a successful competition entry. Usually they are contradictory objectives... most brand building exercises are concerned with helping a product or company "fit in" with a culture, demographic or industry territory. This usually involves following the rules more than establishing new ones.

There's only a handful of international brands that can afford the "stand alone" creative approach.... Nike, Apple, BMW, Sony, BBC.

Organisations like D&AD feature the latest creative trends to support their own brand values ... much of the work is beautiful and influential BUT that's not strictly consistent with supporting good design. Surely good design = appropriate design. Appropriate design often isn't very sexy. The client context is largely ignored.

There's little effort to establish how effective a campaign has been in crude financial terms. A popular advert doesn't necessarily mean an increase in sales or even brand awareness.

Hence the rise in "fake" work... campaigns developed purely to win awards. Campaigns which were never commissioned by the client they claim to represent and were never put into production.

It seems that a designer's ability to win awards is dictated by their ability to attract leading clients with big budgets.

12942304247266304 traceycove on Thu Nov 12th 2009

More design effectiveness awards perhaps. Like this one? http://www.dba.org.uk/awards/intro.asp

Posted by Sarah Gottlieb

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. Foreign_policy_brandguidesingapore_itsnicethat_list

    Foreign Policy Design Group, who we featured on the site last year, has nailed the art of collating diverse and sometimes complex ideas into a beautiful, cohesive publication. The first book in its new series, Brand Guide: Singapore Edition is like a beautifully arranged scrapbook of your dreams, rounding up “iconic homegrown brands that attest to the current golden age of design in Singapore,” the studio explains on their Behance page.

  2. Leslie-david-itsnicethat-list

    Leslie David might be one of the busiest women working in her industry. We last checked in with her six months ago, to swoon over the identity and packaging her studio had created for Glossier, and a typeface which looked to be blowing in the breeze, among other things, but this week she’s back with no fewer than three new projects. Three! She never stops.

  3. List-ashley-stephenson-new-york-times-its-nice-tha

    Designer Ashley Stephenson seems to be a shy chap, perhaps explaining why he prefers to go by his creative pseudonym G/tr, and why it took a friend of his to get in touch singing his praises. We’re not sure why, as Ashley’s certainly talented: this project was created while interning at the New York Times, and looks to show the publication’s prestigious heritage while also celebrating its move into the digital era. For each of the images, Ashley has imagined what the stars of yesteryear might get up to if they were as preoccupied as we are today with the likes of Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, Periscope, Twitter, Facebook, What’s App, Club Penguin, Habbo Hotel…you get the picture.

  4. Studio_storz_itsnicethat_list

    Berlin-based Studio Storz has a portfolio chock-full of visual identities, editorial design and book design that’s varied in style. What differentiates Studio Storz from other design practices is its collaborative approach to design. As part of Spector Bureau, a collection of designers, artists and publishers, it actively works with other professionals in the field. It sees the role of designers as ever expanding and one that can manifest itself as researcher, engineer, craftsman and communicator; and the studio’s relationship with the Heidelberger Kunstverein has been ongoing since 2012.

  5. Alexandre-pietra-for-noise-festival-its-nice-that-list

    A good identity isn’t necessarily one with a mega logo – though it doesn’t hurt – but one that looks great and is instantly recognisable across any touchpoint, be it a coffee cup or huge stretch of hoardings. When we saw this festival identity looking bloody brilliant on a balloon, we knew it passed the test. This simple blue and white look for French festival For Noise was created by Swiss designer Alexandre Pietra, and aims to convey the festival’s new, less rock-orientated approach. “The concept of this 2015 edition is to let the music speak for itself,” says Alexandre.

  6. Byop_int_list

    Earlier this month, the Serpentine Pavilion opened to the public. The beguiling, multicoloured woven structure designed by Spanish architects SegnasCalgo sits in Hyde Park like a more grown-up version of a fort you might have built when you were a child. Over the last decade and a half the annual architecture commission has become a much-anticipated beacon of design, and to celebrate 15 years of the Summer Pavilion, the Serpentine Galleries have teamed up with Kidesign, Marina Willer and the team at Pentagram to launch a digital platform and national campaign to foster the aspiring young architects of tomorrow.

  7. Lust_typedynamic_itsnicethat_list

    LUST not only has a great name, but is a studio covering a huge range of disciplines in an extraordinary way. Based in The Hague, Netherlands, it’s this project the studio did last year at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam that demonstrates the studio’s unique and varied approach. An interactive installation for the exhibition Type/Dynamics, the show aimed to comment on the work of experimental graphic designer Jurriaan Schrofer.

  8. Song-haein-itsnicethat-list

    I’m just going to come right out and admit that there’s an inherent injustice in trying to explain how beautiful a printed book is through digital images. This is especially true in the case of Haein Song, whose painstakingly bound publications go one step beyond plain old riso-printing and saddle-stitching.

  9. List-its-nice-that-mtv_premium_collage_300dpi_iam

    MTV is launching a new “louder, shorter and hyper-visal” look and feel, incorporating user-generated content for the first time. The positioning has been reworded to “I am my MTV” from its former slogan “I want my MTV,” aiming to celebrate its audience and “bring new video art to audiences worldwide,” according to the brand. MTV says that the new design work was created in house, and it seems very much in the vein of the bright, brash and rather brilliant work of its senior vice president of visual storytelling and deputy editorial director (snappy!) Richard Turley.

  10. Penguin_design_awards_2015_list

    Today Penguin has announced the winning covers for its 2015 Penguin Random House Design Awards. The awards are an opportunity for art and design students to get involved with design for publishing. Entrants are given a detailed brief from the publishing house and are invited to submit designs in one of three categories. This year Scott Kooken’s Freakonomics takes the Adult Non-Fiction category, Kate Gamet wins Adult Fiction with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and Lucie Williams’ Carrie’s War wins the Children’s category.

  11. List-eric-hu-talk-magazine-its-nice-that-

    We’re longtime, long-distance admirers of the work of Eric Hu, so the news that he’s recently launched a new magazine, Talk, is pretty damn exciting. And from what we’ve seen of the spreads, young Eric’s not disappointed us. The mag is the product of a collaboration with art director and writer Harry Gassel, former art director at The Fader, and is described as “a style-driven magazine on design focused on emerging culture.” And style-driven it damn well is: we’re digging the cover typeface, which seems to be formed of gloomy balloons, while the spreads show some innovative approaches to layout and image size. The first issue features the likes of David Brandon Geeting, Maxime Harvey, Simon Whybray and Raf Rennie, and we’re keen to see how Talk’s dialogue continues in future issues.

  12. Bond_web_moominfont_a_small_optimized-1

    Tove Jansson was a one-woman phenomenon. Last year Finland celebrated the centenary of the much-loved Moomin creator and children’s uberauthor and illustrator, and you might remember we spoke to C-G Hagström for the Autumn issue of Printed Pages about photographing her throughout her life.

  13. Zoo_festival_de_l%e2%80%99histoire_de_l%e2%80%99art_itsnicethat_list

    Paris-based studio Zoo has been featured on the site before for their zesty posters for a music event, and this time they’re back with a beautiful identity for the Festival de l’Histoire de l’Art 2015. Created as part of a proposal for a competition held by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the theme was “Matière de l’œuvre (the matter of the work of art).”