Apple Wins Design Award, But Where’s The Product?

Apple wins design award – not exactly shocking news these days. But how about this: Apple has won Creative Review’s first Design Studio of the Year award, but NOT for its products.
This award is for its graphics and packaging.


Apple wins design award – not exactly shocking news these days. But how about this: Apple has won Creative Review’s first Design Studio of the Year award, but NOT for its products.

This award is for its graphics and packaging.

The Design Studio of the Year prize goes to the consultancy with the most entries accepted into the Creative Review Annual (above). Apple has six pieces of work in this year’s Annual, out later this week, including packaging for the iPod Shuffle, the Nano, the Mac Pro, the MacBook and the MacBook Pro (top). A series of posters for its SoHo store have also been selected.

Apple, it seems understands that the packaging of its products is all part of the experience. Opening, for example, a MacBook is a piece of theatre.
Everything inside is made with care and attention to detail. Just comparing the average Apple box with one of its competitors’ tells you all you need to know about the differing values of the brands. Just one quibble though – all that polystyrene is lovely to look at, but we hope that greener alternatives are on the way.

In an old vs. new media battle, Saatchi & Saatchi New York just edged out Goodby Silverstein to be Advertising Agency of the Year. It was Saatchi’s print versus Goodby’s online work, with traditional media just edging it five entries to four. Among the Saatchi work that made it in, was a cheeky campaign for 42 below vodka:

Elsewhere in our Annual, the Best in Book section reserved for “best in show” entries provides, we would hope, some insight into future directions in visual communications.

To begin with we have, in Fallon’s Sony Paint, a classic commercial in terms of the craft that went into its making and the epic nature of its subject matter. But Paint is also a very modern TV commercial in that it holds its own in terms of pure entertainment. As shown by the amount of times it has been viewed on YouTube and on its own dedicated website, Paint is advertising that people will choose to watch. And, with sales of Bravia TVs notching up very healthy sales figures, it works too. Click here to view.

Red Bee Media and DFGW’s Elvis spot for BBC2 is another YouTube favourite and is similarly Tivo- (or should that be Sky+?) proof. Click here to view.

On-screen entertainment is now increasingly becoming part of the concert-going experience, but is seldom carried off with such panache as that for George Michael’s recent tour, another of our Best In Book selections. Concert visuals in general have come on in leaps and bounds since the days when stencilling the band’s name on the bass drum was about it when it came to visual input. Arguably, the quality of the spectacle has risen as that of the music has declined… Click here to view.

And of course, great sleeve design has become an endangered species, but at least labels like Lo value the tactile nature of recorded music enough to allow Non-Format to produce some typically beautiful work (shown above, Non-Format are also featured in the May issue).

Also typically beautiful, and bizarre, are a series of posters by Paul Davis for Japanese hairdressing school, Hairart. As Davis says, “these are the kind fo jobs that keep you going”.

Flexible identity systems may currently be all the rage but North’s work for the Barbican shows that there’s still a place for the rigorous, simple scheme. The manuals that are used to enforce such schemes are beautiful objects in their own right, produced with huge care and attention to detail. North incidentally, were runners-up to Apple for Design Studio of the Year.

Our two digital Best In Book winners, however, point out an even more fundamental shift in the industry. Both AKQA’s work
and Agency Republic’s Musicubes for Radio 1
owe their success not to snappy catchphrases or great soundtracks but to providing something genuinely useful. This is advertising as a service, not just a message; not as an annoying interruption but as something people choose and enjoy using. In another feature in the magazine this month, Tom Wnek looks at why people in advertising came to be seen as “the bad guys”: ideas like these may help turn that perception around.

Finally, I was delighted that Wallpaper*’s Alan Fletcher cover was also selected. For the past year, Wallpaper* have been running a series of subscriber-only covers commissioned from various artists, designers and architects (as magazines fight harder to preserve subscriptions and persuade readers of the value of print against migrating online, expect to see more of this kind of tactic). Fletcher’s pushed this concept to its limit, even doing away with the magazine’s masthead. As one of the great man’s final commissions, it’s a fitting tribute to his huge contribution to the design profession.

The Creative Review Annual is published as part of the May issue of Creative Review, out 25 April.

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