This year’s winners of the Design Business Association International Design Effectiveness Awards are announced on Friday, with the organisers putting greater emphasis than ever before on the value of design as a business investment.
DBA chairman Paul Priestman says, ‘With the current economic climate, and at a time when confidence has been knocked, it’s arguable the need to justify the measurable benefits of design spend has never been so high. The quality of the entries this year is world-class and we hope this will be reflected in one of the most successful [events] to date.’
Forty projects have been shortlisted this year. Coley Porter Bell has four projects in the running and Felton Communication three, while Design House, Interbrand, Lewis Moberly and Williams Murray Hamm all weigh in with two.
With its unconventional approach to the packaging of bread, WMH’s work for Hovis is likely to be a strong contender. Other eye-catching designs include Seymour Powell’s steam iron for Tefal, Casson Mann’s wholesale revamp of the British Galleries at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Conran Design Group’s fresh store format for MFI, which is being rolled out to all the retailer’s outlets nationwide.
The DBA is remaining tight-lipped about possible winners ahead of Friday’s awards ceremony, which takes place at the Savoy Hotel in London. Last year, Tangerine scooped the overall Grand Prix prize for its British Airways Club World Seat. But the successful entries need not be so high-profile.
Measuring the return on design investment is a perennial issue for clients and consultancies alike. Design effectiveness is evaluated against the original objectives of the brief and whether these were met, but the criteria also take account of the ‘context’.
According to a DBA spokeswoman, ‘The winning entries will be those finalists that have provided or demonstrated the most significant cases for effectiveness. One entry may have generated a 50 per cent increase in sales in a booming market, but another achieved a 5 per cent rising in a declining or static sector. The judges will look at the whole picture, where a design started from and where it’s got to [now].’
Chairman of the final judging panel this year is Sean Lewis, worldwide brand strategy and development director at Orange. Philippa Butters, head of corporate design at Yell, and Bisque Radiators managing director Peter Pierse-Duncombe are also among the eight adjudicators.
Entries are submitted jointly by client organisations and design consultancies across 14 categories, ranging from corporate identity to product design via interiors, packaging and print.
Lewis says, ‘Effectiveness doesn’t mean drabness. There are many bold designs in among this year’s entries.’
After the winning entries are unveiled, the DBA is planning a publicity drive and will be publishing case studies of past winners to help to spread best practice.