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Australian Graphic Design Awards

The Australian Graphic Design Association awards for 2017 were held in the nation’s capital the other week with the glitter and pageantry that one would expect of such an event. I wasn’t there of course but in my self-appointed role as arbiter of great local graphic design (long on service, short on achievements) it behooves me, as I have in the last couple of years, to stumble into the party and cast my critical eye over the results. No one else is sticking their hand up this late in the game at any rate.

Once again it looked like it was a pretty good evening, with some well-deserving work being recognised and it seems, Voice and Fabio Ongarato Design being a commanding presence when it came to being awarded the gongs. Design awards are tough to get ‘right’ in a digital world where not too much work comes as a surprise when everything is online for all to see. There is as usual, a prevalence of a lot of the well-known names, also some glaring omissions that leads you to ask whether established studios have much interest in design competitions these days. The obvious questions again are, are they too expensive to enter? Is an annual event too often? Or do design firms just not see any relevance in it for themselves? Personally I’d love to see a bit more diversity, but I don’t have any un-obvious ideas as to how this might be achieved.

Just a note on how I do this. I look at the work of what work won a Pinnacle the highest honour bestowed) offer my opinion, and then check the finalists to suggest some of the work there that might have been in consideration for a higher award listing (may it be a pinnacle or moved up to a distinction placing). It’s all just based on my personal opinion of course, I don’t have any horse to run in any of this – though of course residing in Adelaide, I’m totally going to lean towards any outstanding South Australian entries, ’cause that’s how I roll, it’s not like I’m being paid for any of this. On that note, let’s check out the good stuff.

IDENTITY

Pinnacle winner: For the People, Sydney School of Entrepreneurship

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Designer Jason Little, James Gilmore, Johanna Roca, Olivia King
Creative Director Jason Little
Art Director James Gilmore, Johanna Roca, Olivia King
Typographer James Gilmore, Johanna Roca, Olivia King
Finished Artist James Gilmore, Olivia King
Writer Andy Wright
Other Developer – Phil Havea, Damian Borchok – Executive Director, Andy Wright – Executive Director

Identity is a tough category to crack as you would expect, and this entry does a nice job of turning the typical institute of higher learning look on its head. For the People are fast becoming the experts for this sort of institutional re-invention.

Should have been a contender… Darklab: Dark Mofo

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Designer Megan Perkins
Creative Director Leigh Carmichael
Art Director Megan Perkins
Finished Artist Megan Perkins, Beth Gregory
Writer Luke Hortle, Anna Tutty
Photographer Rémi Chauvin, Jesse Hunniford, Mitch Osborne
Other Mick Fennelly, App Design; Daniel Reid, Website Developer; Art Processors, App Developer; Thomas Hyland, Videographer; Anna Tutty, Project Manager; Isabella Szukilojc, Project co-ordinator
Printer Mercury Walsh, Slick Promotions, Gus Smith, eyespysigns, Saunders Signs, Typeface, Shout Out Loud

The identity for Dark Mofo is threatening, unconventional and also a little ugly in parts are far as a conventional identity system goes – that said, I love it to bits – it looks like nothing else around – especially an expression of what you expect from a festival. As good as the School For Entrepreneurship identity is, it doesn’t push my expectations, make me as uncomfortable, and excite me as much as the work for Dark Mofo does here, so I feel is deserves to be moved up to Pinnacle status. I sometimes feel that the amount of judges involved in the decision process for the AGDA awards categories kick these more left field entries down the winning hierarchy list. Luckily judge Jo Roca knows the score.

Should have been a contender… Work Art Life Studios: St Martins Cafe

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Creative Director Andrew Ashton
Art Director Andrew Ashton
Typographer Andrew Ashton
Illustrator Andrew Ashton
Paper Mohawk Eggshell, Envirocare

The little guy has a hard time being noticed in such an all-encompassing category as ‘Identity’ as well. As far as a complete identity package of custom typography, colour and graphics, for a cafe no less, goes – this package is the bomb, and deserves to be moved up into distinction status methinks.

Print

Pinnacle winner: Impact BBDO: Making Sense of Dyslexia

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Designer Mohamed Samir
Creative Director Ryan Atkinson
Art Director Ryan Atkinson
Typographer Rijin Kunnath
Writer Jamie Kennaway, Stephan De Lange

Thumbs up for the intention, something bothers me a little bit about the execution though – aesthetically, it’s beautifully designed – but maybe that’s what bothers me – is it too attuned to the designers sensitivity than that of its intended audience? It’s clever and fun though, and if it has raised awareness it far outweighs my concerns.

Should have been a contender… Creature Design: Lux Night Light Festival

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Designer Janelle Rodrigues, Hannah Dollery
Creative Director Janelle Rodrigues
Other Niels Hunefield, Wayne Holmes, Ali Jamieson

In a category filled with art catalogue finalists, it was difficult to pinpoint anything that really blew me away as far as uniqueness and skill of execution. The pieces for Lux piqued my interest though with some great typography and unusual graphics. This really seems more suited to be positioned under identity though don’t you think?

Publications

Pinnacle winner: Voice: Land Sea You Me

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Designer Anthony De Leo
Creative Director Anthony De Leo
Typographer Anthony De Leo
Finished Artist Anthony De Leo
Writer Che Chorley
Photographer Che Chorley
Illustrator Aona Hayashi
Paper Stephen, Pacesetter
Printer Finsbury Green

Anyone who says you cannot be moved by the combination of typography, illustration and photography in a simple printed package needs to have a good hard look at this piece. A worthy Pinnacle winner and my pick of the whole show. Now I just need to dig this up somewhere so I can drool over the actual book!

Should have been a contender… Frame: Lux Krass Journal III

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Designer Simon Pearce
Photographer Sven Kovak

Starting to sound a bit like a broken record here, but, the third year Krass Journal has been a finalist in the awards, and the third year it hasn’t progressed from there. Publications was a tough category this years, lots of really great work, but I’m a little disappointed Krass wasn’t awarded at least a distinction, especially with this issue being the best produced yet (it was already at a pretty high standard). It’s a great mag and deserves the support. Once again I think it’s a victim of the ‘too many judges’ diluting the left field entries.

Should have been a contender…Design by Toko: My Sister Is a Martian

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Designer Eva Dijkstra, Michael Lugmayr
Creative Director Eva Dijkstra
Art Director Eva Dijkstra
Typographer Eva Dijkstra
Finished Artist Eva Dijkstra
Writer Beau Neilson
Illustrator Hudson Christie
Printer 1010 Printing

This won a Distinction for its cover, but I think the judges missed the boat a bit by not awarding that particular gong to the whole book instead. While the cover is obviously a typographers wet dream, the insides are at a whole ‘nother level – this is a beautifully designed all-over package – and what a surprise – produced by Toko!

Packaging

Pinnacle winner: No Pinnacle awarded

Should have been a contender… Band: Jeanneret Wines

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Designer Shane Keane
Creative Director Chris Cooper

With so many great wine bottle design, the judges obviously couldn’t pick a worthy Pinnacle winner, but if anything perhaps stands out, it’s these beautifully atypical designs by Band. There’s a lot going on in the design of these than might immediately catch the eye on just a cursory examination. There’s obviously the stunning typography that Band seem to produce so effortlessly, but there’s also some sublime colour choices and textural embellishments that really speak of the thought that has gone into producing an outstanding package. I would want to just keep these on my shelf and never drink them!

Should have been a contender… Black Squid: Opulent Moon

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Designer James Bobridge
Creative Director Derek Butler

Black Squid have been producing some great packaging design of late. I really like the fun edge of these labels – the name alone is enough to produce something cool from – the treatment goes a step further and really makes the design speak.

Should have been a contender… The Company You Keep: Love Tea

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Designer Luke Brown
Creative Director Rhys Gorgol

It’s a brave studio that pits some simple tea packaging against the might of the countries best wine label design in this category, but I really like the simplicity of these handsome tea package designs. Black Squid also had some lovely tea packages as finalists, but I think I like these just a little bit more.

Digital

Pinnacle winner: Houston Group: UTS Brand Visualiser

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Designer James Calpis, Gian Lacanilao, Dana Rogers, Nathan Wren, Michelle Whitehead
Creative Director Alex Toohey
Typographer Eduardo Manso, emtype
Other Account Management; Anne-Louise Carlon, Kyle De Raedt. Strategy; Stuart O’Brien, Joanna Lilley, Cara Meade, Kalina Gondevska, Allison Sims. Software Development; Mentally Friendly

This kind of neat, the identity system was already pretty good, and this looks like it lets you remix the elements to suit your needs – a glimpse into the future of how identity systems will evolve I imagine!

Should have been a contender… Sons & Co: Mary Gaudin Website

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Designer Matthew Arnold, Paul Bright, Josh Wilson
Creative Director Timothy Kelleher

Sons & Co just seem to have an uncanny knack for turning expectations on websites on their head. This is an oddly endearing presentation using an unusual digital colour palette and seemingly random typographic approach that all pulls together into a rather comforting and homespun feeling. An expert execution in making a gallery site into something quite sublime.

Motion

Pinnacle winner: No Pinnacle awarded

Nothing really stood out for me in this category to make a further comment on.

Spatial

Pinnacle winner: Fabio Ongarato Design: QT Melbourne

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Designer Nuttorn Vongsurawat, Ben Kluger, Sarah Cope.
Creative Director Fabio Ongarato
Photographer Mark Roper
Other Illustrator: Stuart Patience. Interior Designer: Nic Graham & Associates.

This was definitely the ‘Fabio Ongarato Design’ category of the award, not only pulling in the Pinnacle, but also four distinctions as well. ‘Lavish’ is probably the best way to describe this design for QT Melbourne – all of their entries in spatial are obviously stunning, and it was probably a toss-up over which of the five would be chosen to collect ‘the big one’.

Should have been a contender… Fabio Ongarato Design: Kisumé

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Designer Mami Sugano, Tim Royall
Creative Director Fabio Ongarato
Photographer Mark Roper
Other Architects & Interior Designers – Wood Marsh Architects. Artist, Photographer – Nobuyoshi Araki.

I’m not sure why the judges didn’t just give them the even half-dozen by awarding Kisumé a distinction as well. I think it’s actually my favourite out of their 6 finalists.

Design Crafts

Pinnacle winner: Havas: The Bottom 100

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Designer Darren Cole, Nic Adamovich
Art Director Jeremy Hogg, Darren Cole, Nic Adamovich,
Writer Kevin Masters
Photographer Danny Leclair, Eliza Crosbie, Finch, Gita Buga, Mark Leaver, Natasha Stoughton, Prakash Daniel, Thomas Rens Leask
Other Executive Creative Directors – Seamus Higgins, Stuart Turner

Retouching – Cream Studios, Lee Hulsman

I really love this whole project and the photography is obviously stunning and on point.
I would love to have seen this nominated in either the publication or identity categories where I feel the depth of the project might have had more of an overall impact and made a larger statement over the awards. More stuff entered like this please!

Should have been a contender… Juicebox: Feral Fest 2016

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Designer Vaughn Hockey
Creative Director Joel Pember
Typographer Vaughn Hockey

In a year where the overwhelming amount of the finalists featured very clean austere no-nonsense design, it’s nice to see that someone got through who doesn’t mind getting a bit grubby with the typography where appropriate.

Student

Pinnacle winner: Alistair McCready: Type As Monument

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Institution Auckland University of Technology
Programme Leader Peter Gilderdale
Designer Alistair McCready

Hey! A Pinnacle awarded to a student for the first time. Well done to Alistair, the book looks like a mammoth effort!

So there’s another years AGDA Awards done and dusted. overall, another good showing of work – if I had any minor criticisms it would be that most of the finalists consisted of very neat, tidy and considered design work, I would have loved to have seen more pieces that boroke out of that mold a little more. I also think, and this is a long-standing opinion of mine – there are too many judges for each category, which, in any design awards, tends to dilute any dissenting, out-there work. I’d rather see something wild and strange creep in to the finalists, than overall homogenous, but cleanly designed work be the constant norm. It would also be great if more people entered of course, so we could get that greater range – there’s lots of fantastic work out there around the country that deserves the recognition.

Make sure you check out all the finalists work of the AGDA awards site, as well as the finalists and winners from previous years. Please feel free to leave your opinions in the comments section and suggest any other pieces that you think were standouts from the awards.

So there were some Australian Graphic Design Association awards announced a couple of weeks ago, I hear the ceremony was even held in my home town of Adelaide (I had a previous engagement booked that evening ;). That doesn’t stop me from coming in late to the party and casting my critical eye over the results though, if not me, who will though?

All joking aside, it looks like it was a pretty good evening, and as usual, some deserving work was recognised. It’s a tough job holding design awards these days it seems, even great design institutions of my youth like the Communication Arts Design Annual seem a little lacklustre these days. I guess design awards have lost a bit of their sting and surprise when nowadays everyone can stick their work online for instant appreciation. I wonder if younger designers put much stock in the whole idea of design awards these days. Looking at the entries for the AGDA Awards, there are certainly a prevalence of a lot of the well known names, also some glaring omissions that questions whether even established studios have much interest in design competitions these days. Are they too expensive to enter? Is an annual event too often? Or do design firms just not see any relevance in it for themselves? These are questions probably best left for another post (indeed, maybe questions that need to be posed about the organisation of AGDA itself in some regards, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at what got the gongs this year, and what, in my humble opinion, should have perhaps received a little more recognition.

 

IDENTITY

Pinnacle winner: Frost* Collective Paper #5

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Designer Chris Griffiths
Creative Director Vince Frost
Art Director Anthony Donovan
Typographer Anthony Donovan, Chris Griffiths
Writer Sophia Watson
Photographer Brett Boardman, Tyrone Branigan, Nicole England, Tom Ferguson, Murray Fredericks, Anthony Geernaert, Tim Jones, Mark Neusham, Zahn Pithers, Sooti Tan
Other Producer, Miya Bradley
Editor – Sophia Watson
Paper Spicers
Printer Ligare Book Printers

Finally this year, a winner in the Identity category, but I’m not all that sure about this pick. Don’t get me wrong, Frost do excellent work, and this is an excellent piece of work, but does it fit into the category of Identity? Isn’t it more a publication or self-promotion? (I wish the awards had this category). It seems weird that after a couple of years of having no pinnacle winner under identity that this gets the gong, I guess it’s as broad as you want it to be.

 

Should have been a contender… Brewster Murray Corp. Identity by Frost* Collective

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Designer Ryan Curtis, Louis Johanson
Creative Director Anthony Donovan
Other Project Manager – Simon Wales
Strategist – Jeanne Ogilvie
Strategy Director – Cat Burgess

To be honest, there wasn’t much in the Identity category that particularly stood out to me this year, but this entry by Frost* did appeal to my love of old school aesthetics. You don’t see the old ‘letter-mark’ logo in use so much these days, but I think it works very well here and brought a smile to my face and a nod of appreciation for its swiss style utility. Massimo Vignelli would approve I’m sure!

 

Should have been a contender… My Kingdom For a Horse Corp. Identity by Parallax

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Designer Kellie Campbell-Illingworth
Art Director Kellie Campbell-Illingworth
Finished Artist Kellie Campbell-Illingworth, Josh Jarvis
Printer Digiwedoo

Full Marks to the guys at Parallax for designing an identity for a cafe called ‘My Kingdom For a Horse’ and not actually using any representation of a horse in it. I would have used a horse. That’s why they are winning awards and I’m just commenting on awards. Beautiful work though, and a very nice cafe to visit if you are ever in the vicinity.

 

PRINT

Pinnacle winner: 20th Biennale of Sydney Guidebook by For The People

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Designer Jason Little, Olivia King, Lauren Barber
Creative Director Jason Little
Typographer Jason Little, Olivia King, Mathieu Reguer
Finished Artist Lauren Barber
Illustrator Ben Walker

It’s a handsome piece, from what I can tell, I imagine it’s pretty impressive when in hand. The ‘Print’ category is such a weird all encompassing sort of beast, it’s really hard to judge what is appropriate or not. Should this be under publications? I don’t know, it seems a handsome piece, so I’ll trust the jurors choice in this case.

 

Should have been a contender… Supercoach campaign by Cornwell

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Designer Adit Wardhana
Creative Director Quan Payne
Typographer Adit Wardhana

Well this is something you don’t see everyday in your design awards, effectively, a newspaper advert. Really well considered for its intended audience, but still manages to keep its ‘designer cred’. I think it probably deserved a distinction recognition for meeting the needs of the intended audience and still keeping its aesthetic soul. Not an easy thing to achieve.

 

Should have been a contender… Synthia Campaign by Christopher Doyle and Co

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Designer Christopher Doyle
Creative Director Christopher Doyle
Art Director Christopher Doyle
Typographer Christopher Doyle
Photographer Pierre Toussaint

I like album cover design, I like black and white album covers, I like Chris’s work. I think this is a beautiful piece of design in a field (album cover design) that seems to be fading fast unfortunately. That’s also some fine photography right there.

 

PUBLICATIONS

Pinnacle Winner: The Greedy Hand + The Gentle Eye: An Everyday Baroque Practice In Architecture by Catherine Griffiths

Pinnacle Winner: Gary Heery Bird Book by Alphabet Studio

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Designer Catherine Griffiths
Typographer Catherine Griffiths
Other Dr Rachel Hurst, Author
Paper Mohawk, Flying Colours, Gilclear, Chromolux, via BJ Ball Papers
Printer Press Print Limited, Bookbinding Press

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Designer Tim Kliendiest, Paul Clark

Wow, the jurors really went to town with this category, two pinnacle winners! Both pieces are just dandy, look beautiful and I’m sure are very deserving winners, i’d love to own them. But  this category drives me crazy. You’ve got books magazines, Annual reports, even a digital piece in the finalists. Does it seem fair to stack those pieces up against such beautifully produced books? What distinguishes this category from Print really? I also get the feeling that the category maybe doesn’t receive a lot of entries which is unfortunate, there seems to be a lot of nice ‘published’ stuff out there, though book designers do have their own awards competition in this country as well I recently discovered 😉

 

Should have been a contender… Krass Journal #2 by Frame creative

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Designer Simon Pearce
Creative Director Simon Pearce
Art Director Simon Pearce
Typographer Simon Pearce
Finished Artist Simon Pearce
Photographer Sam Pearce
Printer New Style Print

I’m really disappointed that for a second year in a row, Krass Journal wasn’t awarded a higher ranking. It’s a beautiful and uniquely designed magazine with an individual point a view which is really pushing the boundaries of content and design, I really feel this is the sort of work that should be receiving greater recognition and to see it overlooked again surprises me. Maybe better luck next year?

 

PACKAGING

Pinnacle winner: The Old Bloke & Three Young Blondes by Voice

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Designer Kieran Wallis
Creative Director Anthony De Leo, Scott Carslake
Typographer Kieran Wallis
Finished Artist Kieran Wallis
Writer Tash Stoodley
Illustrator Kieran Wallis
Printer Collotype and Glassprint

Well, no arguments here from me! A deserved winner of the highest honour and it’s finally nice to see something crack what seemed an impassable barrier to score a packaging pinnacle. The work Voice have produced for the D’Arenberg brand has been consistently impressive, and this labelling is perhaps the ‘pinnacle’ of that work (see what I did there? 😉

 

Should have been a contender… 36 Short by Studio Band

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Designer Chris Cooper, George Randle
Creative Director Chris Cooper
Art Director Chris Cooper
Typographer Chris Cooper

Sad to see this didn’t receive a higher gong, I really love the simplicity and instant impact of these labels, they really stand out in a busy market and the typography is beautifully considered and non-fussy without just being a ‘swiss-style’ template.

 

Should have been a contender… Artis Clear Valley Riesling by Todd Engelsma

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Designer Todd Engelsma
Creative Director Todd Engelsma
Illustrator Todd Engelsma
Printer Impresstik Labels

I love this label by Todd Engelsma as well because it doesn’t look like any of the other wine label finalists. It features some beautiful illustration and the typography is subtle with a quirky edge to it.

 

Should have been a contender… Palmetto Wine Co by Frame Creative

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Designer Simon Pearce, Sam Pearce
Creative Director Simon Pearce
Art Director Sam Pearce
Typographer Simon Pearce
Finished Artist Simon Pearce
Writer Simon Pearce
Photographer Sam Pearce
Printer MCC

These range of labels from Frame Creative again offer something different from the usual look. There’s some very impressive typography at play here and that Palmetto word-mark is just awesome. Beautiful use of colour palettes across the whole range as well.

 

DIGITAL

Pinnacle winner: Streamtime app by For The People

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Designer Johanna Roca, Melissa Baillache, Sam McGuinness, Jason Little
Creative Director Jason Little
Art Director Johanna Roca
Writer Mat Groome
Illustrator Ben Walker
Other Andy Wright, Director
Damian Borchok, Director
Aaron Green, Founder – Pius Jeon, Developer – Kevin Liu, Developer – Alan Whitby,Developer – Jonathan Gregory, UX

Ok, I’ve had a pretty good look at this app, seems like a good option for a studio management system, with the right amount of designer looking cool to make you feel like you’re not doing boring admin stuff – I find the writing style in it a little annoying though, I’m sure it works fine for the cool kids.

 

Should have been a contender… The Practical Man website by Sons & Co

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Designer Matthew Arnold, Greg Brown
Creative Director Timothy Kelleher
Other Garbett

There weren’t a lot of pieces in the digital section where a consumer would have to actually use it to view and purchase items. The Practical Man website really stands out as both an aesthetically pleasing visual experience as well as an easy to navigate systems to spruik the wares across various devices.

 

MOTION

Pinnacle winner: The Innovator animation by Buck

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Designer Lucas Brooking, Josh Edwards, Mathijs Luijten, Colin Bigelow, Elijah Akouri, Gareth O’Brien, Matisse Gonzalez
Creative Director Gareth O’Brien
Art Director Lucas Brooking
Other Audio House – Antfood
Executive Producer – Erica Ford

This is pretty good I guess, kind of hard for me to gauge, it looks quite Aardman-esque, which is never a bad thing!

 

Should have been a contender… 2016 Adelaide Cabaret Festival by Culdesac

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Designer Kathryn Sproul
Creative Director Marco Cicchianni
Art Director James Parker
Photographer Randy Larcombe
Other Marco Cicchianni, Director
Ali McGregor, Artistic Director
Nicola Tate, Producer

I love a clever typographic solution, and this one is beautifully crafted as a moving brand expression of the festival itself. Everything about it is just right and it pulls it off without being overtly cliche as these things can sometimes descend into when they try too hard.
One of my favourite design pieces of the year.

 

SPATIAL

Pinnacle winner: Pop Marble Run by Alt Group

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Designer Dean Poole, Dean Murray, Aaron Edwards, Adam Ben-Dror, Clark Bardsley
Creative Director Dean Poole
Other SJD, Musical Composer
Design 360

Well, this is different and quite interesting when you read up about what it actually is (I’d encourage you to look up more info on the web). This is the kind of work that expands the boundaries of what we define as ‘graphic design’ and I’m pleased it’s been awarded accordingly, of course it’s by Alt Group!

 

Should have been a contender…. Vic’s Meats Office Fitout by End of Work

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Designer End of Work with Those Architects
Creative Director End of Work

There wasn’t a lot in the spatial category that really blew me away this year other than the obvious Pinnacle winner above. I did like this fitout for Vic’s Meats demonstrating a very ‘against expectations’ subtle and beautiful approach to their office graphics though.

 

DESIGN CRAFTS

No Pinnacle winner

This is a tough category to crack (let alone decipher what it really encompasses) Not too much that caught my eye other than the photography for the Synthia album cover and The Adelaide Cabaret Festival typography, both of which I have mentioned before.

 

DESIGN FOR GOOD

No Pinnacle Winner

These last two categories I really have travel getting my head around, I sort of get where they trying to come from with the ‘Design For Good’ category, but I just can’t help thinking that all design is produced with ‘good’ in mind – this category tries to judge a designs merit on its particular ‘social agenda’ – very hard to judge on just looking at it’s visual impression rather than it’s impact (and how do you gauge that anyway?)

 

Should have been a contender… Thankyou Track Your Impact by Yump

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Designer Yuan Wang, Holly Bartholomeusz
Creative Director Yuan Wang
Other Simon East, Technical Director
Brian Truax, Digital Producer
Wei Lin, Developer

This isn’t any great design revelation, but I can appreciate its usefulness in being able to view where your donation goes and I can imagine it is also a useful as a fundraising device in that regard, it does what it does without bells and whistles.

 

DESIGN EffECTIVENESS

No Pinnacle Winner

See above category for my opinions on this. I really don’t know the criteria this is judged on, so can’t offer any more comment than ‘I really don’t understand why the category is included’.

 

So there you have, as always, feel free to leave any comments on your own views of the awards and the winners, I’d love to hear them. Don’t forget to go and look at the full list of finalists at the AGDA Awards site.

 

frankaloi_kingsaul

Frank Aloi is a designer who has been working around the traps for a little while now, and is doing some excellent work, particularly in the field of packaging and identity design. He’s updated his site with a new look and some beautiful new work since I last had a look, so now is as good a time as any to give him a shout-out and encourage you to take a gander at some very inspiring design pieces.

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I’m loving the understated beauty of this design for 36 Short, which is a type of Balkan spirit called Rakia. It is designed by the guys at Studio Band and I spoke to Creative Director Chris Cooper, about what went into the creation of the label design:

“We were approached by two brothers, Jon and Con Lioulios. The brothers were extremely passionate about taking their late fathers Rakia recipe, that had been passed down through their family for generations, from a tiny non commercial still operating in their shed to a brand and product that introduced the widely unknown spirit to the rapidly growing boutique, small batch spirits industry. After several weeks of research we wanted to develop a brand that removed itself from tradition and convention to allow the product to become more palatable and engaging to a relatively broad audience. Being that 36 Short was somewhat of a contemporary take on an age old recipe we felt it was extremely important to create a brand that reflected that, we wanted to avoid the trap of creating a brand that looked like it was designed for a different era, it needed to be honest. 36 Short is currently being launched to the public with huge interest, not only locally but also nationally and it is quickly becoming a stand out product within a highly competitive market.

So mission accomplished! And for all you type nerds out there, the sans font used is
Walsheim Bold from Grilli Type and the monotype font on the front and back label is Apercu Mono from Colophon, both excellent type foundaries. Studio Band are about to launch an update to their website, so keep an eye out for that in the not too distant future (in the meantime, there’s already some great work to look at on their current site). And if you want more information on 36 Short itself, there will me an extensive post on the product and producers on The Source, Adelaide food and wine website in the next day or so.

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.

BRANDING

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…….

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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).

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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.

GRAPHIC DESIGN

Pinnacle winner: Whitlam Place by Studio Hi Ho

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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…….

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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.

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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.

MAGAZINE & NEWSPAPERS

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…….

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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.

Books

Pinnacle winner: Mongrel Rapture by Stuart Geddes & ARM Architecture

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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…….

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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?

PACKAGING

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…….

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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?

 

Digital

Pinnacle winner: Christopher Ireland by Chris Halloran

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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

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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

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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…….

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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

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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 Haveyouseemycat.com 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

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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.