‘Integrated’ category must communicate its meaning

It is a great shame that British Design & Art Direction president Michael Johnson hasn’t been able to ‘sell’ the new Integrated Creativity category in the D&AD Awards well enough to merit any nominations for awards (DW 8 May).

It is a great shame that British Design & Art Direction president Michael Johnson hasn’t been able to ‘sell’ the new Integrated Creativity category in the D&AD Awards well enough to merit any nominations for awards (DW 8 May).

There were entries and several projects have gone into the D&AD Annual. But as far as most folk are concerned, the category never happened. There’ll be nothing to look at at the awards bash on 28 May and no chance of a yellow pencil being handed out.

Perhaps Integrated Creativity is too woolly a title? Or is D&AD’s definition too narrow? In championing the category Johnson appears to be concerned about dovetailing ads and design to create a properly integrated communications strategy. It’s the stuff that design group No One, for example, might do within the WPP Group-owned Red Cell stable or that Dilys Maltby’s marketing services ‘marriage agency’ Circus might promote.

But isn’t integration – or, in design terminology, collaboration – much broader than that? And doesn’t it exist on a number of levels within design? Links with advertising are only part of the story when it comes to blending complementary craft skills to achieve a common goal.

At the basic level, there’s collaboration with skilled suppliers. Printers and shopfitters come to mind, and several design awards honour successful collaboration here. But there are other areas, particularly where 3D design works alongside 2D, with specialists from both areas working together.

An outstanding recent example is the Design Week Award-winning work carried out by Priestman Goode, on product, and Turner Duckworth, on packaging, for Boa Housewares. In past DW awards, the judges have honoured collaborations between Design Bridge Structure and Design Stream on the Tea-bird commercial tea-maker and Williams Murray Hamm with Lumsden Design Partnership on the branding and interiors for organic retailer Here!.

But there are less high profile examples, as our piece on visual displays demonstrates. Collaborative work from the likes of Land Design Studio on the Natural History Museum’s DinoBirds and Pentagram on banners for London’s Somerset House with design-led manufacturers Praxis and Dimensions respectively surely indicates an integrated approach to design on behalf of both client and collaborators.

So maybe D&AD hasn’t cast its net wide enough. At the start of the century, with Richard Seymour as president, D&AD launched a huge, successful push to promote 3D design. Let’s hope the momentum isn’t lost as Michael Hockney, an adman by background, takes the helm as chief executive. It’s too important for design.

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