London Associates in the driving seat at DBA awards

Product design consultancy London Associates triumphed at this year’s Design Business Association Design Effectiveness Awards, which were announced this week. The consultancy won the Grand Prix gold medal for a device that helps goods vehicle drivers to stay within legal driving time limits. The judging panel described the Optac tachograph machine as ‘usercentred design’ and ‘holistic design experience’.

‘This is design-led manufacturing doing all the right things and changing the marketplace in the face of stiff competition,’ they said. Deborah Dawton, chief executive of the DBA, claims a significant improvement in the quality of submissions this year. ‘Design businesses suddenly seem to better understand how to make the case for design effectiveness,’ says Dawton. ‘They are getting the right statistical information from their clients. By doing this they build an internal capability for the client to ask for more budget for the design element of a business idea. In the end, this should trickle down to mean bigger corporate budgets for design in the future.’

This year, for the first time, winners were awarded withbronze, silver or gold medals for their work, rather than there being one overall category winner, an amendment that the DBA made to allow more consultancies to receive recognition for their designs.

Arguably the second most prestigious prize – for branding work with a budget of more than £100 000 – went to Wolff Olins, which received a gold medal for its work for Macmillan Cancer Support. In all, there were 13 gold standard winners in the ten categories. Lewis Moberly won two gold awards for its identity work with food brands Maximuscle and Kingsdown, and a further two gold medals for its packaging for champagne brand Pol Roger in the UK, and Waitrose Speciality Cheeses. Big Fish and Design Bridge also won gold awards in the packaging category, for Dorset Cereals and olive oil brand Marques de Valdueza respectively. Pearlfisher picked up two gold awards, for its branding work with children’s food company Little Dish and Waitrose Family Toiletries’ packaging. Pearlfisher amassed more awards than any other winner, collecting five in total.

The remaining two gold medals were awarded to Aqueduct for its Network Rail internal communications safety campaign and The Holmes Wood Consultancy for its Manchester art gallery wayfinding campaign, Wander.Wonder.Wander. Three categories – Design Management, Design for Society and Point of Sale – attracted only bronze and silver award winners.

The call for entries for next year’s awards will be released in March 2008, and the deadline is 4 June. Dawton says the ceremony is likely to be moved from the Hurlingham Club in London’s Fulham, which has hosted the awards for the past two years. The awards were announced on 30 October.

• Since its launch in March 2006, the Stoneridge Optac tachograph has achieved sales of 452% above the business plan
• By April 2007, manufacturer Stoneridge’s customer base had increased by 971%
• Stoneridge’s sales increased 163% in the first year to April 2007
• There has also been a 50% increase in gross profit margin
• Last year’s controversial winner, BR&B’s Foster’s packaging, achieved a 36% increase in sales of multipacks

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