D&AD reveals the winners of its 2023 awards

A device designed for a congenital heart disease charity to produce musical rhythms from children’s ECGs won one of this year’s top prizes.

D&AD has revealed the winners of its 2023 awards programme, with a product design project taking one of the two Black Pencils given this year to recognise the highest level of achievement.

The winners were announced over two ceremonies which took place on Wednesday 24 and Thursday 25 May. Of the 639 awards, there were two Black Pencils, one White Pencil and 69 Yellow Pencils.

Black Pencil winners

Interdisciplinary studio Abby.World worked with audio-visual artist Love Hultén and electronics company teenage engineering on product design project Heartbeat Drum Machine, which was awarded a Black Pencil. The client was The Swedish Heartchild Foundation, a small non-profit that supports children and families affected by congenital heart disease.

Abby.World and Hultén designed and created a device that decodes children’s ECGs into a sequencer. It functions as a modular synthesiser to produce rhythms based on the heartbeats of four children who live with congenital heart disease. The project aims to raise awareness of the disease and encourage donations to the foundation.

The other Black Pencil was awarded in the Visual Effects category to Division and Electric Theatre Collective for their work on Pharrell, 21 Savage and Tyler, The Creator’s music video, Cash In, Cash Out.

Prompted by the pause on live action production at the start of the pandemic in 2020, the teams used CGI animation to create avatars of the three musicians dancing in a surreal environment. The goal was to make people question whether the video was made up of real-life footage.

White Pencil winner

A campaign that urges men to challenge misogynist behaviour in themselves and their friends took home a White Pencil award, which recognises projects that use creativity to drive behavioural, environmental, societal or policy change.

Production company Spindle and communications company Ogilvy UK created the campaign, called Have a word with yourself, then with your mates, for the Mayor of London. It seeks to dispel the passive, bystander attitude towards violence against women and girls and encourage men to take responsibility for their actions and words.

Yellow Pencil winners

Of the 69 Yellow Pencil winners – which are the second-highest level of award – there are 17 in the Design category.

Gretel won an award for its work on the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) identity, based on a Complete/Incomplete concept with a bespoke family of typefaces designed by a RISD alumni. Wolff Olins was awarded a Yellow Pencil for the design of US grocery tech company Instacart’s visual identity, which includes a logo that transforms into lively graphic assets through motion.

Seeking to reinstate the client’s Milanese roots, Landor & Fitch refreshed Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano’s identity with a new name (it was formerly called LaVerdi), updated strategy and new visual identity system, taking home a Yellow Pencil for the work.

Creative agency Virtue Worldwide won for its work in the field of digital design and use of extended reality. The Backup Ukraine app uses mobile technology to allow Ukrainian citizens to create high-definition 3D models to back up their cultural heritage at risk of destruction during the war with Russia.

King Henry Design was ranked as the top design studio of the year, with Apple Design Team and Design Bridge and Partners coming in second and third place. The US was the top ranked country with a total of 418 winning entries. The UK came in second with 309 and France third with 99.

You can find the full set of winners on D&AD’s website.

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