Below is a report on the results of 2003 One Show Design, with comments from One Show Design judges. The article was originally published in volume 7.1 of one.a magazine, a special issue devoted to the 2003 One Show, as well as the best international advertising. The issue covers the 2003 print and television One Show winners in a special section, which can be purchased through The One Club.

Times may be tough, but design is flourishing. At least that is what one could conclude from One Show Design, now in its third year. Entries were up by some 25%, with a particularly strong showing by the international community (41 of the 54 Pencils awarded in design went to agencies outside the US). As for the overall quality, judge Dana Arnett of Chicago's VSA Partners summed it up as follows: 'Collectively, the entries couldn't have been more clear in exemplifying the intelligence, clarity and power that ideas can elicit when crafted at the highest level. Perhaps the entire body of work speaks to our passionate desire for making things better. Whether it's an annual report, a CD cover, a museum catalog or an identity, intelligence and purposeful intention is alive and well in the global design community.'

There were a number of standout pieces, but the one that seemed to draw the most praise from judges was a Gold Pencil winning poster campaign produced by the Japanese agency Hakuhodo for client Oorong-Sha. To promote a new recording titled, 'It's a Wonderful World,' these subway posters, made of woven material that resembled delicate lace, were designed to add a touch of elegance and beauty to commuters' train rides. Judge Stefan Sagmeister, who runs the Sagmeister Inc. shop in New York, said of the campaign: 'I have never seen anything like it. There was so much bad news at the time this campaign came out, they wanted to do something positive and this really worked.' Another judge, Brian Collins of Ogilvy's Brand Integration Group, said: 'It was a great combination of taking an antique production process and applying it in a completely new way, I've never seen lace used for wild posting in a subway and that?s what made it startling. This campaign did what good art does, it makes you look at something old in a new way.'

Collins felt the Hakuhodo lace campaign was part of a larger trend at the show, wherein a number of designers seemed to be trying to reinvent the process by using materials in new ways (Sagmeister also pointed to the use of unusual papers, plastics, and other materials in various campaigns). This was one of several trends that seemed to emerge at the show, according to Collins. He also noted that the use of nostalgia was visible in a number of designs, though Collins singled out a particular campaign for Rheingold beer. 'It felt like it was pulled out of a time warp,' Collins says. 'It was a recreation of a golden era, and it worked perfectly for that classic brand.' On the other hand, Collins noted, some attempts to use nostalgic design for newer brands seemed to fall flat because it simply wasn't as appropriate.

Among the top Pencil winners was a Gold winning annual report from Sagmeister for client Zumtobel, a lighting systems manufacturer. An all-white book made of plastic, the cover has a three-dimensional raised vase with flowers; many of the pages inside feature the same vase from the cover, but on these pages, the vase is shown lit in many different ways and angles. Also earning Gold Pencils was Duffy/New York's hip trade magazine created for the Fractal Jean Company, as well as an environmental design entry for the Apartheid Museum, from TBWA/Gavin/Reddy in Johannesburg.

Silver Pencil winners included brand and corporate identity work from Grupo Zapping/Madrid for Buenavista Disney, featuring a book with illustration and text written and drawn by children (the drawings depict scenes from the Peter Pan story). Also earning Silver, in the category of poster design, was Campbell Doyle Dye/London's work for Merrydown cider, which used illustration in a whimsical manner to create a circus-like feeling. A standout Bronze winner from Sawyer Riley Compton in Atlanta addressed the issue of racism with a poster showing a picture of a standard band-aid on a black man's skin; the band-aid is, of course, designed for a lighter skin tone. That doesn't seem particularly surprising until the headline points out: 'Blends with 25% of the world's skin.'

The judges had their own personal favorites, some of which earned Pencils while others did not. Sagmeister was particularly fond of a series of stickers for a wig store in Germany; when placed on traffic signs, the sticker's arrow points to the bald head of the iconic stick figure seen in traffic signs, noting the need for a wig. One of the things Sagmeister liked about the campaign was its sheer simplicity. 'It was appropriate for this type of client in terms of its low production cost,' he said. 'That compares favorably to so many over-produced pieces that we've seen from many of the larger agencies.' Sagmeister also cited a photographer's promotion piece that spoofed Franklin Mint collectibles by suggesting that all of the photographer's work was available on special plates. Both Sagmeister and fellow judge Robynne Raye of Modern Dog paid tribute to a promotional calendar for a body piercing service; the images showed fully-dressed people, but as you lifted cut-out windows you saw where they were pierced under their clothes. Collins, meanwhile, praised a highly conceptual animal shelter campaign that made use of sticks (yes, the kind you find on the ground). The sticks were placed in mailboxes with an attached note that waxed about the joys of playing 'fetch' with a dog (a phone number for the shelter was included). 'Just seeing and touching the stick had the effect of engaging me in a tangible experience,' Collins says. 'Emotionally and physically it put you right in that moment of playing with a dog.'

Judges were critical of some of the overused or unoriginal approaches seen among a number of entries. Modern Dog's Raye found herself feeling distressed by the sight of so much distressed type, 'being used for no apparent reason,' she adds. Sagmeister lamented the overuse of handwriting and tiny type in boxes, which is not new anymore, we've been seeing the same thing for years, he says.

All the judges tended to agree, however, that the most effective designs ignored trendy stylistic approaches and focused on originality and ideas intended to evoke an emotional response. 'The best work in the show was about more than just creating something that looks good,' says Collins. 'Designers shouldn't just do nice designs' at their best, they should be trying to create a feeling and an experience.'

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