One thing guaranteed to divide opinion in design is the subject of the D&AD Awards. To a hugely talented few, particularly in graphic design, they are the holy grail, while to many others they represent an unattainable ad-centric prize relevant more to cult graphics than to the branding programmes that make up most consultancies’ communications design workload.
The D&AD Student Awards, on the other hand, are generally revered, not just by the colleges that support them, but among employers in advertising and design.
A win in the awards will almost certainly lead to a job for the graduate in question, providing a launchpad for a successful career. Consultancy heads turn up in droves to get their bids in for the best creatives on offer.
The bringing together of the two events is bound to be controversial. Tinkering with the creative calendar always prompts debate – and D&AD’s ill-fated awards ceremony ’experiment’ at the Royal Festival Hall in 2008 lingers as an unhappy memory for some (DW 22 May 2008). But by bringing practitioners together with emerging talent, D&AD is bolstering its bid to foster creative excellence and has a better chance of keeping track of student award-winners by inviting them into the fold at this stage of their careers.
It certainly worked bringing the judging for professional and student awards together under one roof last year. Judges were fascinated to see what was going on in the other camp and assess standards, whatever their area of expertise.
On a more practical note, a combined awards ceremony should save money and effort for D&AD, an organisation that has undergone big financial traumas in recent years that led to staff cuts. If it also means more practitioners meet the new generation of designers first hand, then the benefits are clear – particularly in areas like interaction design where graduates are likely to be more adept at blending technology and creativity than many of their potential masters.