D&AD Annual stays digital, and free, for 2021 edition designed by Studio Dumbar

In its digital publication, the organisation showcases Pencil-winning work and features an editorial series with articles penned by Jeremy Leslie, Debbie Milman, Raven Smith and more.

2020 was tough for everyone. One industry in particular took a devastating blow: the creative sector, which saw emerging talent specifically struggle to produce and platform their work. D&AD wanted to address this. Year after year, the organisation known as Design and Art Direction, or D&AD, showcases some of the best work from the world of creative, design and advertising worldwide. And to follow the awards, the organisation produces an annual publication exploring the winners and their works. Last year, it made its annual into a more widely accessible resource for the global creative community.

Today, D&AD has launched its 59th D&AD Annual in another free-to-access digital format, following the success of its first all-digital Annual. By inviting creatives at the top of their game to offer their insights on this year’s winning work, the organisation hopes to facilitate conversations around the future of the creative industries. These insights are delivered in the form of a series of editorial pieces as the annual’s stand-out feature. 12,000 out of their 75,000 users to-date are in the 18-24 age category, so D&AD hopes to show how its 2020 annual enabled it to fulfil its core mission to inspire and support emerging talent in multifaceted and evolving ways.

The 10 editorial pieces in the annual sees the featured creative leaders address various topics. For example, Emma Hope Allwood, former head of fashion at Dazed, explores Gen Z's relationship to media and branding. And Keza MacDonald, video games editor at The Guardian talks us through the rise of gaming. Whilst Madoka Nishi, editor-in-chief of Japan’s IDEA Magazine, speaks on non-Latin typography and cultural inheritance. These are all narrated through the lens of this year’s Pencil winners. Oh, and our favourite Instagrammer Raven Smith, also an author and columnist at Vogue UK, expresses to us how he copes through the pandemic by using humour. Within the annual you can also find a series of written or video interviews with winners from a broad range of creative disciplines.


Studio Dumbar: D&AD Annual 2021 digital identity (Copyright © D&AD, 2021)

Studio Dumbar has collaborated with D&AD again, building on its design of the 2020 annual, to create an engaging digital experience which it hopes will capture the quality of the printed Annual, while harnessing the unique possibilities of the digital platform. Updates include an endless scroll feature, enhanced discoverability of New Blood work, and statistics on this year’s awards and judges. The Annual also features interactive elements like a ‘curate’ function, letting us collate and share our favourite works. shareable via email and social media and serve to stimulate dialogue around inspirational creative work. The feature sits alongside D&AD Judges’ own curations which highlight work that stood out to them.

“Last year’s annual proved the unmatched potential of the digital form in providing a source of inspiration and stimulation for creatives across the globe,” says the team at Studio Dumbar. The studio’s aim, the team continues, was to build on the dynamic qualities of the previous digital annual whilst creating a more personalised and ultimately engaging platform for this year. “The result is a more bespoke user experience that encourages creative conversation and collaboration, which really embodies everything D&AD stand for.” And it still includes the regular features such as letters from D&AD Chairman, Tim Lindsay, and the 2020/21 D&AD President, Naresh Ramchandani.

Ramchandani said that “the annual is the most effective way for D&AD to make its most potent inspiration freely accessible to the widest possible audience”. He believes this is “exactly what creativity should be right now: interested in, and inclusive of, as many different perspectives as possible, with the aim of making our creative work as rich as the society it’s part of.”

The D&AD Annual 2021 is free to access and is now available to view via the D&AD website.

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Studio Dumbar: D&AD Annual 2021 digital identity (Copyright © D&AD, 2021)

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.

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