The Design Week Awards and defining good design

This week has been dominated by judging the Design Week Awards.

Ugokidase Tokyo project for Nike, Design Week Awards Bet of Show winner in 2013
Ugokidase Tokyo project for Nike, Design Week Awards Bet of Show winner in 2013

With nearly 800 entries over more than 20 categories it’s pretty full-on, and a huge thanks go to our fantastic judging panel, who made it such a lively and enjoyable process.

As you would expect, the judging was accompanied by lots of discussions about what design means, and what good design should be.

One definition that came up a lot was design that defied expectations – projects where it was clear that the designer had taken the work as far as it could go – and then pushed it a little further. Where they’d not just solved a problem or answered a brief, but redefined the boundaries of what design can do.

White Logistics and Storage rebrand, by the Allotment
White Logistics and Storage rebrand, by the Allotment

This is true across all categories, whether branding a multinational organisation or creating a single-piece of limited-edition packaging – it’s all about going an extra mile and defying the client’s (and the judges’) expectations.

This sort of thinking is clear in our two Best of Show winners from the past two years.

The Allotment’s White Logistics and Storage rebrand, which won in 2012, is by any standards a beautiful piece of work. But viewed in its context – as a rebrand of a haulage firm in a traditionally unglamorous sector – it’s clear how hard the designers had to work to see the project through and how unique the work is.

Similarly AKQA’s Ugokidase Tokyo project for Nike from last year turned what could have been a simple product launch into an engaging and immersive physical and digital experience.

I’m very pleased to say that there are plenty of examples of design pushing the boundaries in this year’s Design Week Awards lineup.

We look forward to sharing the shortlist with you next week, and celebrating the winners at the awards night on 15 May.

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