AGDA Awards Winners announced!

Hey, I hear there were some of those graphic design awards handed out in Sydney on the weekend – the pointiest awards in the country (other than the Arias, obviously. The Australian Graphic Design Association Awards are now an annual event, and as usual the field was tough and the top gongs, the aptly named ‘Pinnacle’ were hard to come by. So let’s take a (somewhat) biased view through the winners by category, and also take a look at some of the finalists that (again, in my humble opinion) may have been hard done by in not picking up the higher honour of a Distinction or Pinnacle. Be warned, there is some humbling, awesome work ahead.


No Pinnacles awarded. (Same as last year)

Judges were tough on the branding category with none of the ten distinction winners able to step into the top gong, it’s a pretty difficult category to get the complete scope of a particular piece of work across though.

Should have been a contender…….


Designer Scott Carslake, Anthony De Leo
Creative Director Scott Carslake, Anthony De Leo
Art Director Scott Carslake
Typographer Scott Carslake, Anthony De Leo
Finished Artist Scott Carslake, Anthony De Leo, DesignLab
Writer Adelaide Festival of Arts
Photographer Various
Illustrator Scott Carslake
Paper Various
Printer Print Solutions

I think Voice were unlucky not to be recognised for their beautiful interpretation of the 2015 Adelaide Festival of Arts. This is a huge undertaking, and all the elements slot in perfectly and are pushed and pulled into some remarkable solutions to some complex communication tasks. Maybe the jury were put off awarding to an Arts Festival (and maybe you had to be here to experience it all).


Designer Eva Dijkstra
Creative Director Eva Dijkstra
Art Director Eva Dijkstra
Typographer Eva Dijkstra
Finished Artist Eva Dijkstra
Paper mixed letterpress and foil stamping
Printer Watermarx Graphics

I love this ‘one colourish’ branding solution for Courtesy of the Artist by design firm Toko. Simple, modern and elegant.


Pinnacle winner: Whitlam Place by Studio Hi Ho


Designer Patrick Scanlan, Wes Waddell, Dale Bordin
Writer Elizabeth Kulas, Michael White, Mark Rubbo OAM, Marcello Donati
Photographer Mark Strizic (1928-2012), Leslie H Runting, Wolfgang Sievers (1913-2007), Morgan Hickinbotham
Illustrator Gatsby
Other Gabriel Saunders, Renders
Paper Colour Plan (Citrine, Real Grey, Forrest), Cyclus Offset, A2 Silk
Printer Bambra Press, Avon Graphics

Well, I don’t have a lot to go on from the example provided above, and haven’t been able to source any more material online. I’m guessing it’s awesome in the flesh to be awarded the highest honour. ‘Graphic Design’ is such an all encompassing category title, so it’s a tough job to be a contender I imagine.

Should have been a contender…….


Designer Chris Harris, Ellen Beames
Typographer Chris Harris
Photographer Anna Fenech
Paper BJ Ball – Colorplan.
Printer Hunter Brothers

Really surprised that Chris at Draw Studio didn’t receive at least a Distinction for this clever stationery for Ponder Posy, real ‘out of the box’ solutions deserve to be awarded and this definitely ticks that box. One of my favourite pieces of design work I’ve seen from anywhere this year.


Designer Jason Little, Olivia King
Creative Director Jason Little
Typographer Olivia King

Unfortunate also, is this little piece of design brilliance that missed out. Again, I am a sucker for simple one colour, no nonsense small business design solutions, the letterpress is just icing on the cake. Well done Jason and Olivia from design studio For The People, I’m sure client Tim Jones was chuffed.


No Pinnacles awarded. (Same as last year)

Obviously a tough nut to crack, as this category had the least finalists, still, there was at least one that should have been recognised I feel.

Should have been a contender…….



Designer Simon Pearce
Creative Director Simon Pearce
Art Director Simon Pearce
Typographer Simon Pearce
Finished Artist Simon Pearce
Writer Tess Martin & Sanja Grozdanic
Photographer Sam Pearce
Illustrator Simon Pearce

Maybe I’m the teensiest bit perocial over this new Adelaide magazine, but Krass by Frame Creative was one of the best new magazines to come on the market anywhere in the world this year, (and I’m not just talking in a design context, but also in terms of content). Considering the amount of online buzz the mag has been generating, I think it probably deserved at least a Distinction placing, but it’s early days, and with a couple of more issues under their belt, I’m sure it will be a serious contender in next years awards.


Pinnacle winner: Mongrel Rapture by Stuart Geddes & ARM Architecture



Designer Stuart Geddes and ARM Architecture
Typographer Stuart Geddes
Finished Artist Stuart Geddes
Writer Various
Photographer Various
Other Editors: Mark Raggatt and Maitiú Ward
Paper Various
Printer Amity Printing Company

That is one heaping slab of a book! Kudos to the time and effort put into such a magnificent feat of design!

Should have been a contender…….


Designer Vince Frost, Adam Vella
Creative Director Vince Frost
Writer Denis Seguin
Other Miya Bradley, Producer
Printer Penguin Books Australia

While probably no great shakes in pushing the boundaries of book design, nevertheless, I think Vince Frost’s Design Your Life deserves recognition for pushing design principles onto a mainstream audience, I really enjoyed reading it as well, I wonder how much of the actual content of a piece is taken into consideration by the judges. How do you judge the effectiveness of a books design for example, if you haven’t read the book. And for that matter, how about the effectiveness of the design of a wine label if you haven’t tasted the wine?


No Pinnacles awarded. (Same as last year)

Wow, talk about your tough categories, if Alt Group’s ‘Egg Nog’ bottle couldn’t crack a pinnacle last year, or Mash’s labels for Alpha Box & Dice in 2012, it would have to be something extraordinary to make the grade this year, speaking of which…

Should have been a contender…….


Designer Scott Burns
Creative Director Michael Lugmayr, Eva Dijkstra
Other Production, Scott Burns

This is the biggest surprise to me, as I would have picked this as best in show easily. In case you’re not sure what you’re looking at here, this design by Toko, are for book sleeves for the photographic portfolio of Juliet Taylor. They are handmade and individually poured using two tones of coloured resin that reflect the colour pallet of Juliet’s photographs. Beautiful, appropriate and unique, I’m not sure why they missed out on a Pinnacle, but there you go. I wonder if they may have scored better in another category like books or design craft, rather than the crowded packaging field? That’s one of the problems of The AGDA awards, picking where to place your work, I guess you could put it in multiple categories, but it’s not exactly cheap to take that gamble.



Designer The Hungry Workshop
Paper Simcote, Beer Matt Board & Kraft Cardboard
Printer The Hungry Workshop

Yes, I know, it’s another one colour-ish, minimal letterpress design, but isn’t it beautiful? The Hungry Workshop do good work obviously, but they’ve really come up with a winning solution here, I’m not sure what Khloris Botanical Skin Tonic does, but now I want some!




Designer Andrew Ashton
Creative Director Andrew Ashton
Typographer Andrew Ashton
Finished Artist Andrew Ashton, Lucinda Vrzovski
Writer Andrew Ashton
Illustrator Andrew Ashton
Paper KW Doggett
Printer Gunn & Taylor, Convex NZ

And speaking of one colour design jobs (again), Andrew Ashton is one of my design idols, so it’s hard for me to pass to pass this packaging range for The Pet Grocer up, and not feel compelled to grab my flaming torch and pitchfork and demand this be given a pinnacle. How cool are those  cat and dog illos? And who thought a plastic bag for a ‘pet grocery’ could be so sexy?



Pinnacle winner: Christopher Ireland by Chris Halloran


Designer Chris Halloran
Photographer Christopher Ireland
Other Daniel Lever, Web Developer

This is a case of static pictures not really telling the whole story of the site, it’s hard to go wrong designing a site when you have so many beautiful images to work with and a minimal design aesthetic. It’s actually pretty cool on the start up page how Christopher Ireland’s motion and photographic work are separated to emphasise both. I’m a bit torn on it though, I guess I really don’t know enough about the actual technical aspects, the mechanics of how the site was put together to really pass judgement on it.


Design Craft

Pinnacle winner: Financier typeface family by Klim Type Foundry


Designer Kris Sowersby
Creative Director Kevin Wilson
Art Director Mark Leeds

I guess this is the category that typography, illustration and photography get lumped into now? Seems a pity that such separate disciplines have to fight it out together. Kris Sowersby’s typeface design is obviously well deserving of a pinnacle, though it makes me wonder why his extensive Domaine Family design only managed a distinction last year, despite being just as good (maybe even a little bit better?)


Pinnacle winner: Hither & Yon labels by Voice


Designer Anthony De Leo
Creative Director Anthony De Leo, Scott Carslake
Art Director Anthony De Leo
Typographer Anthony De Leo
Finished Artist Anthony De Leo
Illustrator Chris Edser, Amanda Brown, Superexpresso, Anthony Foley, Zutto
Printer Collotype

Well, you’re not going to hear any arguments from me. I’m a long time enthusiast for the work coming out of the Voice studio (in Adelaide, of course!), and their designs for local South Australian winery Hither & Yon might be my favourite work of theirs. Beautiful, distinctive and fun, the wine is pretty good as well!


Should have been a contender…….


Designer Charli Kasselbäck, John Bark
Creative Director John Bark (Bark Design AB)
Art Director Charli Kasselbäck (ONE DAY Interact AB)
Typographer John Bark, Charli Kasselbäck
Finished Artist John Bark, Charli Kasselbäck
Other Snow and Ice sculptors: Charli Kasselbäck, John Bark
3D-drafts and visualization: Karin Hedqvist. Photos: Paulina Holmgren, Cliff Karlsson, Printed material: Ilkopia, Work wear: Houdini Sportswear

Well, this is kind of interesting. Hot Type in a Cold Setting seems to be a pretty unique
approach to in-situ typography. I wonder what it was all for? An exhibition of some sort? That’s some nicely carved ice right there though! I wonder why it didn’t rate a distinction? Maybe the judges were baffled as well?


Spatial Design

Pinnacle winner: Te Oro Tukutuku by Alt Group


Designer Dean Poole, Dean Murray, Aaron Edwards, Tyrone Ohia, Clarke Bardsley, Lorna Rikihana, Kelly Dixon, Bernie Papa, Tanya White, Tessa Harris, Huhana Turei, Te Rangitākuku Kaihoro, George Kahi
Creative Director Dean Poole

It seems like you can’t have an AGDA Awards these days without ALT Group picking up at least one pinnacle! I appreciate the handiwork that has gone into this piece of signage, but as far as its inclusion in the Spatial Design category, I sort of get the reaction of, is that it? Or is there more of the system we’re not seeing? Possibly better suited to the Design Craft category, it is a beautiful piece of work though.


Design For Good

No Pinnacles awarded. (Same as last year, see a pattern forming?)

I can’t really get my head around this category, for the good of what? Aren’t all the entries aiming to design for good? I don’t imagine any of them are designing for the sake of evil, though that might be kind of cool. Do they mean design for non-profits? Design for social causes? There seems to be a mixture of both and also commercial endeavours in the finalist mix. This and the following category always feel to me like the ‘justification awards’ – see, we’re not just judging on aesthetic taste! It smacks of an insecurity in the awards that really doesn’t need to be there. I kind of like the site and it almost made my should have been a contender list, but it seems to have a confusing message over whether it wants to be a commercial enterprise or a civic service, in which case maybe the humour is a little misplaced. Losing your kitty is no laughing matter!


Design Effectiveness

Pinnacle winner: More Love For Nanna’s by Brand Society


Designer Chris Wilson
Creative Director Chris Wilson
Other Nina Kelly, Strategic Director

So I imagine this is judged on units sold after a redesign? All the finalist entries in each category are effective because they’ve won an award, right? It’s nice enough work and I’d pick them up in the supermarket if I saw them I imagine. I’m cool with the whole hand-drawn aesthetic and all, but my one bug-bear with this sort of thing is, actually hand draw the type and don’t use a font, or at least tweak the font so there are variations in the same letters (check the double n in Nannas to see what I mean) – especially if you’re winning a pinnacle! Nice colours though, just needed to push the design a little further, but that’s just the opinion of someone who has no pinnacles! 🙂


So there you go, another AGDA Awards done and dusted. Was the finalist list as good as the year before? Probably not, but then the previous awards had a two year scope to collect it’s batch of entries. What else do I think? Are there always too many judges in this thing? Probably. Is it too expensive to enter? Almost certainly. Does that expense preclude studios from entering work that they may consider too edgy or young designers to put work forward? Mmmmaybe. Is it the best nationwide graphic design awards we have? Almost definitely. Maybe one day I might even go into those points in more depth, being so eminently qualified to pass judgement on such matter! Be sure sure to check out all the finalists at the site, there’s some awesome work there, and congratulations to all the winners as well, it looks as though it was a great evening.