D&AD category must be given time to bed down…

I was warned that this job might get bit messy and sure enough four months into my presidency at British Design & Art Direction and the knives are out.

I was warned that this job might get bit messy and sure enough four months into my presidency at British Design & Art Direction and the knives are out.

Following on from another journal’s destruction of me for daring to celebrate 40 years of design and advertising at the Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition Rewind, Design Week has me in the dock about the lack of nominations in a couple of categories.

While some of your analysis is fair, the simple truth is that new categories like Integrated Creativity often take a while to become established – the now established Interactive and Ambient categories took a while before they found their feet with landmark projects by Deepend and Mother.

All we were trying to do was to create a place for the increasing trend for cross-over, collaborative projects to find a home and to be celebrated, rather than being broken down into their constituent parts.

Sure, some nominations would have been welcome both in the new category and Identity, but the truth is that, unlike many of the world’s awards schemes, D&AD judges are under no obligation to hand out pencils. If the likes of Brian Boylan, Woody Pirtle, Bruce Duckworth and Dilys Maltby felt identity was having a flat year, so be it. The Integrated jury included Richard Seymour, David Stuart, Billy Mawhinney and Tim Ashton, and while Design Week may feel the 15 projects selected for the annual ‘never happened’, the fact that 10 000 annuals will be pored over in the autumn by the world’s creative community might make that assertion a little premature.

It’s one of the great conundrums of D&AD that as it becomes increasingly popular (21 500 items entered this year) it becomes increasingly difficult to win, so even being nominated has become an award in itself.

Remember, this is a scheme that doesn’t even have to award its highest prize, the black pencil, if it doesn’t want to. It’s that uncompromising attitude that perplexes commentators spoon-fed an easy diet of overall winners, grands prix and best in shows, but it’s the reason why it remains the gold standard of the awards.

Maybe we should look at the positive side? A record haul of 143 nominations in total. Twelve nominations in TV graphics and 13 in Environmental/ Architecture. Mmmm, perhaps not – that just wouldn’t be a story would it?

Michael Johnson

President

D&AD

London SE11

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