Notes From The Jury: Sayuri Shoji

By Brett McKenzie Posted on Mar 18, 2020

"A good piece of package design does not need a three-minute case study video to explain everything."

Judging for The One Show 2020 and the ADC 99th Annual Awards was just about to begin, with hundreds of creatives from all across the globe coming to New York and Puerto Rico for several weeks of deciding the most Pencil and Cube-worthy work of the past year.

COVID-19 had other plans.

Never ones to be deterred, we at The One Club for Creativity quickly put together a course of action that allowed for the majority of the submissions to be debated and discussed online, while a small group of New York-based creatives viewed work in person. Our goal has been to maintain the integrity of our two main awards while erring on the side of safety, and our phenomenal judges have been more than accommodating.

Each year, we like to share some of the judges' views coming out of the various jury rooms. This year, however, those rooms are more likely to be virtual.

Next up: Tokyo-based designer Sayuri Shoji. For more than 20 years Sayuri and her studio have created some breathtaking work for the likes of Dove, Derek Lam, DOT Marc Jacobs, Sephora, SWATCH and more, making her a perfect addition to our Product & Package Design jury.


First of all, how is the Tokyo design community holding up? Japan was one of the first countries affected by this outbreak...

The situation here in Tokyo since the COVID-19 outbreaks is quite serious. Most of our clients have switched to have their employees work from home, so we have pretty much been only communicating via emails and phones for the past three weeks. And while health is a top concern, we are also hoping that this doesn't slip into a serious economic recession or depression.

You've created a lot of incredible package design over the years. What is your personal philosophy when it comes to great design?

I have three personal principles. When designing, you must:

  • approach everything with a fresh point of view.
  • make sure that your great idea is backed up by equally great execution. The production values and craftsmanship have to be top-notch.
  • keep up with all of the latest trends, but also not be a slave to those trends.

I also believe that incredible design needs to be able to stand on its own. A good piece of package design does not need a three-minute case study video to explain everything.

Speaking of trends, what sorts of things would you say are currently hot when it comes to package design?

Sustainable and eco-friendly package design has been a dominant force for recent years. As a package designer, I do believe that this “ethical” trend is quickly becoming an industry standard. It's no longer enough to tout the eco-friendliness of your packaging as something special. You still need to create design that checks off other more important boxes.

You've had the opportunity to go through the first round of judging. Are there any specific entries that you really liked?

I really loved the "Big In Japan" beer cans by Zulu Alpha Kilo. They designed the QR codes in a very creative way, but are still readable and recognizable as QR codes. I thought this was a very fresh, uniquely creative approach, and showed good design skills.



You've had a long history with ADC — not surprising since you're also one of the earliest Young Guns winners! What does judging the ADC Annual Awards mean to you?

It is definitely meaningful to be part of the ADC Awards, seeing this year's best work and getting acquainted with the great designers and art directors from around the world behind it all. I am very curious to see what the future will bring as it relates to international award shows, with social media transforming so much of our communication. 



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