AIGA (The Professional Association for Design) does a yearly survey called AIGA 365: The Year in Design. They’ve chosen a whole series of top examples for 2008 to put into the archives, all sorted into 10 different categories. From their writeup:
AIGA’s suite of competitions is widely recognized as the most discerning statement on design excellence today, extending a legacy that began 90 years ago. By means of the competitions, AIGA creates a chronicle of outstanding design solutions, each demonstrating the process of designing, the role of the designer and the value of design.
Their 29th Annual Year in Design is online now, and I’ve sifted through the 10 categories and pulled out some of my favorite selections. And so, for your enjoyment:
Brand and Identity Systems Design: Bretenic Limited Stationary System
Here’s a piece of work from a Toronto design shop that uses good copy and comical prose to illustrate why a lawyer and specialist is good to work with. It’s well-presented and direct, and the approach of the piece matches the approach of the client, which is funny and down to earth.
Corporate Communications Design: Take Action Postcards to the Edge
There weren’t a ton of wonderful examples in here, I found, but this set of postcards about dissidents being persecuted in other countries is concise, catchy, and embodies a spirit of design slightly different than much of the NGO “design ghetto” (if such a thing exists, and from my impressions it sort of does).
Editorial Design: New York Times Magazine
These guys don’t quit. I’ve written about their extremely skilled lead designer before, and these two nominations here are making me think about a subscription. Consistently, eye-catching, and beautiful to look at, week in and week out. I missed the recent food issue, which I’m sure was full of various mouth-watering things alongside some fantastic articles.
Experience Design: Detroit Institute of Arts Interactive Installations
Although I can’t vouch for this, not having been to the museum, the idea of watching a period meal being served while you sit at a kind of virtual table, as a way of presenting silverware and other period flatware and furniture and cooking habits, is kind of awesome. Plus it’s easily the best way to answer that eternal question we’ve all grappled with: “how can I make my 18th century flatware collection relevant to contemporary youngsters?” Now you know.
Information Design: The Normandy Campaign
I wish computer technology was at this stage back when I was sent to museums on various school trips, although I remember the series of blinking lights and various switches that moved things were equally as enthralling as this interactive touch-screen map of the Normandy campaign probably is. Everything is fun when you’re a kid. Ah hell, it still is.
Motion Graphics: TV Land Refresh
This category, I’ve got to say, is lacking a touch–the nominations were fine, but not mind-blowing, and from a design standpoint I just don’t think Modest Mouse’s Dashboard video needs to win a prestigious design award. I know it’s motion graphics, but that’s a wide category, considering what I eventually chose at their best selection: this refresh of the TV Land network, which is clean, contemporary, and not annoying. For a retro network that shows nothing but old reruns, it’s great, actually. No old TVs with rabbit ears sticking out of them or bouncy retro graphics–although I’m an unabashed fan of vintage things, showing Brady Bunch reruns doesn’t mean you have to embrace the tv-in-the-60s aesthetic for your entire network.
Packaging Design: Ultrasilencer
Well I wanted Criterion’s Breathless DVD set, but the Ultrasilencer takes it. When the hell are you ever going to get a Vacuum Cleaner with modernist Helvetica styling on all its packaging? This wins my personal award for “making Jordan kind of interested in a product he wouldn’t otherwise give a crap about.” Thanks to this design I seriously started thinking that maybe this product was some kind of revolutionary thing, until I realized the object I was thinking about was a vacuum cleaner.
Promotional Design and Advertising: Planet Propaganda
The posters of Planet Propaganda, collectively, win this one. This is a massive category and it’s kind of ridiculous to choose one, especially since I just complained about ‘honorifics’ in another article, but hey, I’m not actually handing out awards here, just picking my favourites.
Typographic Design: Sculpture Today
This ‘Paper Alphabet for Sculpture Today’ is fantastic. Typography done with paper that looks beautiful. Plus the “C” looks like my cherished Commodore 64 logo.
Book Design: Underachiever’s Manifesto
While there are a ton of quality choices here, the Underachiever’s Manifesto gets my vote. It was a tossup between this and a few others (All the Sad Young Literary Men I really like), but the “mistake is the whole point” simplicity of the cover won me over.