Here’s how they did it…
CR: How did you land the commission?
DP: We were approached around Christmas time 2005 via a telephone call from D&AD. The said that they had been doing some research into northern design companies in relation to working on the next Annual and our name had come up via recommendation. Initially put off due to the size of our company (there is still only two of us) we managed to convince them that the best way forward was for us to send some work down so that they could see what sort of things we had done. After the Christmas break the D&AD Exec invited us to London for an interview having shortlisted down to three companies.
In the interview they talked about wanting to work with a company that was fresh, passionate, detail orientated and above all obsessed with creativity. They also loved the work we had done on The Process of Printing book for Team which was in the Annual the previous year. Our faces fitted and we got the job.
CR: What was the brief and time-scale for the job?
DP: The brief this year was to demonstrate “creative obsession”, be celebratory in tone and strive to be more than simply a record of the winners. As it is the first time in D&AD’s history that the Annual has been designed outside London, they also wanted to promote the fact that it was a regional appointment. Time scale-wise initial ideas were approved by the executive committee in early February then we started artwork in early may and worked pretty solidly on it until the mid July deadline. Printing took up the first couple of weeks in July and was managed by Martin Lee who D&AD hire as a production consultant for the Annual. Martin has a great relationship with Mondadori (the printers of the Annual, based in Verona, Italy) and has worked on the Annual for a number of years.
CR: Most people would imagine that designing the D&AD Annual would be some kind of dream job: can you explain the restrictions you had to work under?
DP: For us it seemed like natural progression bearing in mind some of the jobs we had been working on up to that point. A lot of our work had been aimed at the design industry and we were used to our heads being on “the chopping block”. It is definitely a high maintenance job and 600 pages is a daunting task but when you break the job down in to the various sections it becomes easier to rationalize.
There are certain things that can’t be changed for budget/production reasons. The size is fixed because it has been optimized for page planning and the number of pages is fairly fixed because of the amount of entries. Apart from that it’s a case of working with the budget to see how far things can be stretched in production.
CR: Can you describe the different print processes used in the book?
DP: All the “in-book” pages are printed four-colour process. The category dividers are printed single colour metallic copper and the sector dividers and printed 2 spot colours, D&AD yellow and metallic copper. The front end is single colour metallic copper and the cover/half title is the same metallic with two additional foils for the logo and line work/text.
We knew we wanted to the Annual to have some object value so materials and process were considered quite carefully. The spot colours were used the accentuate the dividers because they were the only way of punctuating the design. The covers and the front end have the look and feel of high value production but are really just colour on colour in terms of material and process. The foiling on the cover and half title just add some visual texture and punctuation.
CR: What kind of testing did you do to make sure that they all worked?
DP: We did some wet proofs quite early on in the design stage but because we were suggesting a material for the front end that is usually used for book binding D&AD wanted us to make sure that printability would be OK on both sides of the sheet. So as well as doing this we wet proofed some overprinting and double hit variants of the D&AD yellow and the metallic copper on the Fedrigoni Freelife text stock.
CR: Which finish did you have the most problems with and why?
DP: The metallics on the uncoated and coated stocks proved to cause the most problems. As there is so much ink coverage on the category dividers we originally thought that double hitting was going to get the best result. After testing we realized that the geometric patterns that we had got in the large type caused optical and registration problems. The conclusion was to single hit.
CR: Why use the woven stock for the Synopsis pages: did you have freedom to choose the other stocks used? If so, could you talk about your choices?
DP: The stock you refer to is Fedrigoni Imitlin with a Tela emboss. It’s a stock with a sumptuous feel and one that works very well next to the smoothness of the Freelife text pages and the glitz of the Sirio Pearl (all Fedrigoni stocks). Highlighting the information that everyone usually glosses over was the intention when using this stock. We felt that D&AD had a lot of equity in the information in these pages and it was something that we wanted to re-enforce. D&AD is all about the tradition. There are some fantastic names in there and they deserve promoting year upon year.
CR: The book was printed in Italy: were you able to oversee production? Did you get to pass it?
DP: Mondadori and D&AD go back a few years so the production process has been fairly streamlined. For us it was quite an usual job in the fact that we were totally hands-off on press. Martin Lee was hired by D&AD to oversee and manage the production so our involvement stopped after handing over the artwork. Martin has great deal of experience and has worked on some great book projects over the years so we were very confident in his abilities. We had also tested all the colours and off-line finishes before we went into full production. It was just a matter of looking for the problems before they come and find you.
CR: What are you most pleased with in the final version?
DP: The most pleasing thing for us is that it feels celebratory without running rough-shod over the work it promotes. Spin did a lot of great work last year increasing the size of the represented work and I think we have managed to make it even bigger through refining the grid. The use of colour, finish and material also seem to work well together to create an Annual that “steps up to the plate” in terms of what has gone before. It was also produced on time!
Interview conducted with Andy Probert and James Littlewood. Directors of Design Project, Leeds UK.