The best design work dares to be different, drawing on influences way beyond the client’s brief. But where do those influences come from? And what inspires design’s top creatives renowned for turning out stunning work?
There are no easy answers. But – with a little prompting from Williams Murray Banks creative director Garrick Hamm – we thought it would be interesting to find out what turns some of our best designers on. Seeing what they appreciate gives a clue as to what makes them tick and might encourage others to take a closer look at things that might otherwise have passed them by.
We asked 20 design stars to pick a product, piece of graphics, exhibition – whatever has left an impression on them this year, and ask them to explain what makes their choice so great. Most have responded, though some of the choices – such as Rasshied Din’s favourite, an exhibition of work by Robert Irwin at New York’s Dia Center for the Arts and Jon Turner’s Parkett mailer were impossible to show. Some, such as Bruce Duckworth and Turner, have submitted more than one example.
Only two designs won more than one vote: Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s Flat Eric ad campaign for Levi’s Sta-Prest brand; and Apple Computer’s iMac, designed in-house by the US team led by British designer Jonathan Ive.
The first time round, most participants have chosen design or advertising work close to their own discipline. But we plan to repeat the exercise each month, asking a similar group to nominate things they’ve spotted in the intervening weeks. Hopefully, as the series develops a few wackier items will emerge.
Judi Green, creative director, Wagstaffs
The new Volkswagen Beetle
With all the classic design features and all the shapes and curves that I loved in my first college car, the new VW Beetle has reached iconic status. The original Volkswagen ‘people’s car’ has been turned into the Millennium bug – exquisitely stylish and refined. These classic curves with character are a ‘must have’ object of desire – the girl’s just gotta have it.
Mike Dempsey, director, CDT Design
Waterstone’s press campaign by BDDD.GGT
Art director: Paul Belford; copywriter: Nigel Roberts
A witty use of the book as an icon which is both ever-changing and surprising.
Pocket Canons by Pentagram partner Angus Hyland for Canongate Books
Beautiful to behold.
Dale Russell, director, Russell Studio
Flat Eric by Bartle Bogle Hegarty for Levi’s Sta-Prest ad campaign
Director and music: Quentin Dupieux
The Sta-Prest ads had immediate cult status as witty and well-directed branding for Levi’s also nominated by Mark Wickens, chairman, Wickens Tutt Southgate
Simon Waterfall, creative director, Deepend Design
The Jewish Museum, Berlin, by Daniel Libeskind (opening October 2000)
It is breathtaking. The empty building has to be seen to be believed. It has no doors into its zigzag outer skin and you approach the inner space by a tunnel from the Gothic building next door. The whole thing is against you from the off.
Michael Johnson, creative director, Johnson Banks
What it meant to be British project by third-year graphics student Samuel Walker, Kingston University
What he did was approach friends, relations, strangers and ask them to draw a map of Britain. Then he grouped them according to where they come from, and overlaid their drawings.
Scottish people have the clearest sense of the correct shape of Britain. Londoners just have no idea and northerners tend to overemphasise the shape of the North.
I think it’s brilliant.
(1 drawn by Londoners, 2 by Northerners, 3 by Scots, 4 by Welsh).
Paul Priestman, director, Priestman Goode
The new Laser eps
It is a very innovative design that opens up higher performance sailing to the less acrobatic of us. It also looks awesome. The quality of build and attention to detail is far ahead of any competitor around the world. It was designed and built in the UK.
Bruce Duckworth, creative director, Turner Duckworth
Carlton Vice title sequence directed by Philip DupÃ©e at Lambie-Nairn Directors, now The Clinic
A great, exciting title sequence using split screen to great effect, with sublime editing. Better than the programme that followed it.
Audi TT coupÃ©
Automotive design seems to have changed enormously, with a new look emerging. The Audi seems to optimise that new look with pure, simple curves and a purposeful, powerful presence.
Quentin Newark, director, Atelier Works
Citibank Private Bank Photography Award catalogue by North
What is so good about it is that it isn’t just another photography catalogue. It is on the outside quite like a conventional hardback book, but inside tall, crinkly matt pages separate the sequences of photographs which are all printed as very high gloss on stubby half pages. The form of it is fresh and unusual. And although it has obviously been very difficult (and expensive) to produce, it is a delight to encounter.
Michael Peters, managing director, The Identica Partnership
The iMac by Apple Computer
I like it for its simplicity, its speed and its style. It is easy to use even if you know nothing about computers.
also nominated by Garrick Hamm, creative director, Williams Murray Banks
The advertising’s pretty cool too.
Aziz Cami, managing partner, The Partners
Sir Norman Foster’s building for the new London mayor
Chosen because its design represents and expresses the hopes and aspirations that Londoners have for the new office of mayor – open, innovative, distinguished and world class.
Jon Turner, head of global design, The Body Shop
Parkett mailer, cover by William Wegman
It’s the floating embroidered logo made of padded felt letters on the covers that really appeals to me, as well as the concept of different producers for each edition and the free, loose style of the contents.
New York Club Flyer by The Clit Club
Club flyers are spontaneous and direct, I can imagine us sitting around discussing the word clit and submitting it to a focus group for market testing.
Allison Miguel, creative head, Coley Porter Bell
Rachel’s Organic Yoghurt by Francis Balson Associates
I’ve chosen Rachel’s organic products because I believe they challenge convention. The packaging stands out against a sea of big branded yoghurts. It has created a unique personality by choosing a challenging colour – black – and a different way of describing the ingredients using natural images. This has positioned it away from the hokey organic territory and makes it a striking and confident brand in the chiller cabinet.
Glenn Tutssel, creative director, Tutssels
The Bend in the River, wine branding by Blackburns for Carl Reh Group
A pack I admire, having broken the mould of old design values.