D&AD announces the best design work of the year

Computer Arts reports back from the design industry's annual celebration of world-class work.

Set up in the 1960s as a British non-profit institution and educational charity, D&AD (Design & Art Direction) runs an annual awards that's become one of the most important design contests in the world.

Rose was the second-most awarded design agency after, er, Apple

Over the years it's gained a huge global reputation with agencies across the world battling it out. The awards are categorised by colour: Yellow Pencils for outstanding work, White Pencils for projects that have had a social impact and the exceptionally rare Black Pencils, with only a handful given out each year - if any!

Hat-trick also fared well, picking up bronze in the contest for Most Awarded Design Agency

At last night's glittering D&AD Awards ceremony at Battersea Evolution D&AD President and Computer Arts columnist Laura Jordan-Bambach fronted the evening in style, alongside CEO Tim Lindsay. And this year, the event hit a milestone: the most Black Pencils ever awarded.

The fact that this record stands at just seven bears testament to just how hard these hugely coveted accolades are to win.

Black Pencils

A clever way to make a point about disability by WAX Partnership

The seven Black Pencils were awarded to creative work from six different nations, with the Netherlands taking home two:

  • 'CSPD 2012 Annual Report' by WAX Partnership for Calgary Society for Persons with Disabilities (Writing for Design - Annual Reports) - Canada
  • 'Gravity Light' by Therefore (White Pencil - Design) - United Kingdom
  • 'Improving Safety and Comfort on Train Platforms' by Edenspiekermann for NS/ProRail (Digital Design - Technological Innovation) - Netherlands
  • 'Sound of Honda / Ayrton Senna 1989' by Dentsu Tokyo for Honda (Digital Marketing - Sound Design & Use of Music for Digital Marketing) - Japan
  • 'Sweetie' by LEMZ for Terre des Hommes (White Pencil - Advertising & Marketing Communications) - Netherlands
  • 'The Epic Split' by Forsman & Bodenfors for Volvo Trucks (Digital Marketing – Online Branded Films) - Sweden
  • 'The Most Powerful Arm' by Finch for Save Our Sons (Digital Design - Technological Innovation) - Australia

Our personal favourite: a truly inspired concept for an annual report for Calgary Society for Persons with Disabilities by Canadian agency WAX Partnership. The report represented some the challenges of living with disability by holding the report together with a single staple - in the middle of the page.

Yellow Pencils

Rose's work for Art on the Underground

Computer Arts favourites Rose and Hat-trick were two of the biggest winners on the design (rather than advertising) side of affairs. They picked up Yellow Pencils for Mark Wallinger: Art on the Underground (also Best of Show at our very own Brand Impact Awards) and glow-in-the-dark storybook Hide & Eek respectively.

Once In-Books and Nominations for Pencils were taken into account, both agencies also fared well in the Most Awarded Design Agency contest – with Rose scooping the silver prize, and bronze for Hat-trick. Gold went to that well-known design agency, er, Apple.

Both have featured as part of CA's Designer Series documentaries, and Hat-trick scooped two gongs and three commendations at the Brand Impact Awards too.

You can watch the video documentaries and find out some of the secrets of their success here: Rose | Hat-trick.

Studio Dumbar's Amsterdam Sinfonietta posters won a Yellow Pencil

Another Yellow Pencil went to our friends at Studio Dumbar for the incredible Amsterdam Sinfonietta posters - which featured in our recent sell-out Graphic Design Annual - and you can also find creative director Liza Enebeis penning regular columns for Computer Arts.

The Whitney Museum's identity features a dynamic 'W' that morphs to fit different spaces

The innovative identity system for the Whitney Museum of American Art - designed by elusive Dutch trio Experiment Jetset, who were profiled in issue 227 of Computer Arts - picked up a Yellow Pencil too, although the designers themselves were happy to pass the credit to Whitney's in-house design team.

"We never participate in competitions and awards," they explain. "The way we figure it, life is already competitive enough - why turn graphic design into a competition as well?"

There were 52 Yellow Pencils awarded in total, as well as two White Pencils. Check out the D&AD website for the full list - and our congratulations to all the winners.

Don't forget to check out our competition with D&AD New Blood to design the cover of CA's upcoming New Talent special!


Nick Carson is editor of Computer Arts magazine.