Exploring the D&AD Festival 2017

By Graham Sturt
Creative Director at VBAT

Ready for take-off at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam

Billed as ‘the biggest hive-mind of creative excellence across the industry’ the D&AD Festival, now in it’s second year, is a three day conference held inside the old Truman Brewery off Brick Lane in the heart of London’s East End creative district. With a stellar line-up of over 150 speakers and events scheduled across it’s programme I decided to pay a visit to the first two days to get inspired and to take a look at some of the work entered into the D&AD Professional Awards.

Day One — Zombie Trump, Underground Cats, Polar Bear Sausage Dogs and the man in the Yellow Suit…

Having landed in London the previous night I decided to get an early morning start to explore and reacquaint myself with Brick Lane, an old stomping ground of mine before I made the move to Amsterdam ten years ago.

Brick Lane street signs carry both English and Bengali names reflecting the vibrant cultural mix of the area

A long thoroughfare, lined with many of London’s finest curry houses, Brick Lane (also known as ‘Banglatown’ due to it’s long established Bangladeshi community) is an area steeped in history. Deriving it’s name from the brick and tile manufacturers who settled there in the 15th century the area has long been well known as a vibrant melting pot of immigrant cultures and industry. Over it’s long and rich history it’s seen French Huguenots establish weaving and tailoring in the 17th century, Irish and Jewish communities establish the area’s famous markets in the 19th century, the Bangladeshi community settling later in the 20th century and in more recent times creative businesses and artists have found a home here. All of these settlers have left their own mark on the area none more so than Brick Lane’s current community of street artists.

Brick Lane is now world famous for its street art, which features artists such as Banksy, D*Face and Ben Eine. Artists from all over the world and the UK come here to create, safe in the knowledge that they will get an appreciative audience. As such the street art is constantly changing, new work is created and new artists come to the area. From one day to the next exciting finds will always be made. Such is the impact of street art on the area that virtually all available surfaces in the area are now either tagged, postered, stickered or sprayed and there are many ‘official’ guided tours available for tourists to seek out the very best sites in the area.

Typical Brick Lane street art highlighting current issues

Whilst making my way along Brick Lane I saw one such guided tour comprising of a group of glamorous looking sixty something American ladies. Having a few minutes to spare before I needed to be at the D&AD Festival I decided to tag along with them briefly as they entered a particularly well known street art hotspot on Seven Stars Yard. One important thing to point out here is that most street artists tend to use their art to reflect on current issues and topics affecting our lives. As such it was no surprise to me to see many street art pieces referencing either Theresa May or President Trump along Brick Lane. What I, and this particular group of conservative looking ladies in front of me hadn’t anticipated however was an enormous wall mural depicting their divisive leader as ‘Zombie Trump’. Whilst some of the group chuckled in amusement others looked on in shock and as I heard one of them ask the golden question ‘Is that a Banksy?’ I decided to leave them and make my way to the festival.

Zombie Trump by Tom Blackford

Arriving around 15 minutes before the official festival opening time of 10 o’clock I politely joined a long queue that snaked from the venue on Brick Lane and around the corner onto Hanbury Street. Being accustomed to the concept of happily queueing (it’s in my DNA my Dutch colleagues tell me) I took a moment to size up my fellow festival goers. Going on appearances and by listening to the general buzz of conversation in the queue the majority of the audience was made up of either students or recent graduates of many nationalities. Dotted amongst this majority of ‘new blood’ were a smaller number of professionals from UK agencies. Overall a good blend of enthusiastic creative talent all excitedly chatting to their friends and colleagues about their expectations of the event.

Promptly at 10 the doors opened and I made my way to the Adobe Stage to see Bruce Duckworth, President of D&AD, deliver his welcome speech to officially open the event.

In his warm and engaging welcome speech Bruce, co-founder of Turner Duckworth, outlined his own vision for the event, describing it eloquently as a ‘hedonism of creative excellence’ and urging all attendees to absorb it’s content like a sponge. He also used the opportunity to introduce the 3 key themes shaping the content of each day of the festival — Day 1: ‘The Earth Will Shake’ (Creativity for Good), Day 2: ‘Staring at the Sun’ (Creativity and Technology) and Day 3: ‘Outrageous Magic’ (Creativity and Craft). In summing up Bruce spoke specifically about the D&AD Professional Awards, and of the 26,000 entries of creative work that were currently being judged to find the ultimate winners of this years coveted D&AD Wood, Graphite, Yellow, White and Black Pencils. Interestingly, as Bruce pointed out, in an industry traditionally dominated by white middle class males (much like himself as he pointed out) this years awards have for the first time seen more female jury presidents than male. A positive and welcome sign of change for the future in our creative industries.


Following the President’s Welcome I kept my seat in front of the Adobe Stage to see the following speaker, James Turner, founder of creative collective Glimpse. Entitled ‘When Creativity and Activism Collide’ James’ talk centred on how he felt it was important to use creativity to encourage positive social values and positive behaviours in today’s society. As a former head of communications at Greenpeace for 10 years James’ background in activism led him to set up Glimpse, a nonprofit collective comprised of creative people who want to use their skills for good. Their aim being to make positive social change feel attractive to millions more people.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed-In protest. Hilton Hotel, Amsterdam 1969

Using John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous 1969 Bed-In peaceful protest in Amsterdam’s Hilton Hotel as an opening backdrop to his talk James took the opportunity, in his own words, ‘to be the first person, but hopefully not the last, to bring up John Lennon at a D&AD Festival’. Drawing the observation that Lennon was an incredibly astute campaigner for peace James used the following quote by Lennon to kick-off his talk.

‘We’re not pointing the finger at anybody, there are no good guys and bad guys, the struggle is in the mind. We must bury our own monsters and stop condemning people. We’re all christ and we’re all Hitler. We want Christ to win. We’re trying to make Christ’s message contemporary. What would he have done if he had advertisements, records, films, TV and newspapers? Christ made miracles to tell his message while the miracles of today is communications so let’s use it.’

Whilst in no way comparing himself to John Lennon, James did pose an interesting question by asking us to imagine what Lennon would have done today with access to the internet. It was, in his words, with this spirit that he decided to start Glimpse to find ways to connect with people bypassing traditional forms of media. To illustrate their unique approach James then went onto show one of their most well known case studies ‘Citizens Takeover Advertising Service’ otherwise known as ‘CATS’. Asked to ‘Imagine a world where your friends and the experiences you have are seen as more valuable than the stuff you can buy in the shops.’ 4 creative teams were briefed to deliver a response to see what might happen if they replaced traditional advertising with something radically different. Their response? Crowdfunding via Kickstarter to replace ads with pictures of cats at Clapham Common Tube Station of course! Whilst initially intended as a gentle dig at the level of consumer advertising in public spaces in London the outcome was altogether more surprising and unexpected. Over the course of the cats takeover Clapham Common Tube Station became a place where friends came to meet and socialise like never before. People came from far and wide to see and take photos of the cats and tube staff became aware of a changed atmosphere within the station — from a cold thoroughfare to a lively and friendly meeting place. The campaign also went viral with James completely surprised to find himself being interviewed about cats by CNN and The New York Times amongst many other global news services.

Selfie action at Clapham Common tube during Glimpse’s C.A.T takeover

With a new project underway to unite communities through connected picnics in London’s parks Glimpse are well on the way to achieving their aim of putting positivity back into society. Overall a highly engaging and fascinating talk with a welcome and unexpected twist on how to use creativity for good.


Straight up after this came a talk by Giles Rhys Jones, CMO of what3words. Entitled ‘D&AD to Djibouti’ Giles’ talk told the highly inspiring story of the development of what3words from it’s winning of a black pencil at D&AD in 2016 to it’s latest project in Djibouti, Africa. In a nutshell what3words is a geolocation reference system based on a global grid of 57 trillion 3mx3m squares. Each square has been pre-assigned a fixed and unique 3 word address. For example, the Statue of Liberty is located at “planet.inches.most”.

Typical 3 word addresses in Dakar, Senegal

Easier to remember & communicate than GPS, more flexible than dropping a pin and more accurate than street addressing it is a universal and human-friendly system. The what3words ecosystem of apps and code is currently being used in over 170 countries by governments, business and NGOs it is helping packages, post and aid to be delivered more easily and is ensuring that friends are met and business are found.

what3words promotional movie

Unbeknown to most of us living in developed countries are a number of surprising facts regarding the address systems we take for granted in our daily lives. The most surprising to me being the UN estimates that 4 billion people lack a reliable way to address their homes. As such, these people are denied access to basic social and civic services. They struggle to open bank accounts, register a birth or access electricity or water supplies. Without the ability to communicate where they live, these people become invisible to the state. On top of this 75% of the world suffers from poor addressing or none at all whilst the other 25% still lacks universal coverage. Whilst improvements have been made in mapping and navigation, defining exactly where “there” is remains a big issue.

Through the adoption of this simple 3 word system in undeveloped parts of the world many more people have been granted access to a registered and findable address than was ever possible before.

A great product perfectly showcasing the power of blended tech and creativity.


Aside from the many many inspiring talks at the event there were also a number of brand activation stalls to visit. Primarily located on the upper ground floor of the festival in an area called The Playground brands such as Adobe, Dalton Maag, Getty Images, Instagram and Microsoft were there in force recreating a kind of branded fun fair atmosphere whilst subliminally soft selling their products to festival goers.

VR fun at The Playground
Game of Thrones fun at The Playground

Although I could see that many of these brands had gone to considerable lengths to engage their audience in fun ways it wasn’t for me and decided to join a workshop held by The Partners instead.


Called ‘Ideas, Ideas, Ideas’ this hands-on workshop hosted by The Partners Creative Director Nick Eagleton was billed in the festival programme as ‘a full-on creative thinking workout for anyone interested in having bigger and better ideas. In under an hour all participants could expect to cover all the essential skills needed to turn meh into amazing, not by talking about it but by doing it.’ We were also recommended to ‘bring energy, enthusiasm and a very open mind. Hard work has never been such fun!’. Always interested in exploring ways to generate newer and better ideas I turned up and am happy to report that I was not undersold. With a full-house comprising primarily of young enthusiastic creatives (and me) the following hour proved to be a haze of frantic activity, more like a high energy aerobics class than a workshop, with Nick Eagleton it’s frenetic and highly entertaining cheerleader.

Nick Eagleton of The Partners

Tasked with coming up with creative ideas around an imaginary virtual product called ‘Magic Snow’ we were split up into small teams to firstly come up with our brief as a one liner on a Post-It note. After a little healthy discussion our group came up with ‘Magic Snow’ as a way to make Polar Bears in zoos feel more at home. We were then asked to write, on another Post-It note, ANYTHING that was a passion of ours. Not realising the later significance of this I carelessly wrote the first thing that came to mind which just happened to be Herman, our sausage dog. Suffice to say the last part of the exercise tasked our group with coming up with ideas around our concept (Magic Snow for Captive Polar Bears) whilst also integrating our individual passions. Quite a tall order one might think but with a good energy level and a healthy dose of fun our team easily came up with several ideas which we presented at the end of the workshop. All in all great fun had by everyone and some handy new idea generation techniques taken on board. My only question now is how to find a sponsor to make my idea for a TV series called Bear for A Day a reality. Sausage Dogs dressed as Polar Bears, what a great idea…isn’t it?


Following the workshop I made my way back to the Adobe Stage to see our good friends from What Design Can Do present ‘Design For Impact’. Hosted in collaboration with The Ikea Foundation the talk by Marta Terne, Richard van der Laken, Radu Dumitrascu and Dagan Cohen firstly told the inspiring story of the flat pack Better Shelter, a practical solution for temporary refugee housing, before moving on to share insights, outcomes and best practices from last years What Design Can Do Refugee Challenge.

Panels, pipes, connectors and wires all come flat-packed in cardboard boxes like IKEAs furniture, and take four hours to assemble without the need of additional tools. A solar panel on the roof provides enough energy to illuminate the interior after dark.
Better Shelters house Iraqi returnee families in the Anbar province

The 2016 WDCD Refugee Challenge was structured along seven phases, beginning with an open call on 19 February 2016 and ending with a Grand Finale on 7 March 2017. The different steps of the process focused on idea generation, feedback and improvement, selection of the finalists, acceleration of their ideas and creating the opportunities for implementation. After a successful feedback and refinement phase, the final count for the challenge was a staggering 630 entries.

WDCD Refugee Challenge 2016 winner AGRIshelter is a solution for the shortage of refugee shelters that considers social, urban, environmental and economic factors. It is built of biodegradable, zero-km materials, which are durable, provide good insulation and are readily available in every city. The whole 35-m2 unit can be erected in a few hours by people with minimum skills.

In the Nominate Phase, a selection committee of over 30 experts from both the creative field as well as the humanitarian sector, reviewed and rated every submission according to the criteria of: innovation, relevance, scalability, sustainability, feasibility, and potential impact. On 17 June, a live session was held in Amsterdam to establish a shortlist of 25 entries. On 1 July, during What Design Can Do Live Amsterdam, the 5 winning projects were announced on stage by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders. Of the 5 winning projects several are now in advanced development stages towards becoming reality, a huge achievement considering the limited time and resources available.

WDCD Refugee Challenge 2016 winner The Welcome Card is issued to everybody who applies for asylum in a EU country. Radio-frequency identification technology (RFID) enables refugees to check their application status when the card is paired to a reader. It offers a way to display one’s asylum application status, while providing official information from relevant immigration agencies and related organizations. The temporary identification card also provides details about language courses, transport and relevant events. Moreover, it gives holders peace of mind and dignity as they plan their lives.

To close the presentation Richard used the opportunity to launch the latest What Design Can Do design competition: the Climate Action Challenge and to invite all festival participants to take part.

Richard van der Laken of What Design Can Do

All considered a highly inspiring and motivational first day with many learnings taken on board and leaving me with a thirst to explore what the festival has to offer on day 2.


Day Two — Type Tasting, Night Mayors and Acres of Creativity

My second day at the festival started early with a visit to one of it’s Fringe Events — ‘Wake Up and Smell the Fonts: Type Tasting with Sarah Hyndman’. Offsite from the main festival, it was held in the library of Shoreditch House, a member’s club with a rooftop pool and refreshing ‘no suits’ policy in a converted East London warehouse. Arriving well before the rush of other participants I took a seat at the front and got comfortable while Sarah prepared for the session.

Sarah Hyndman at Shoreditch House

Sarah Hyndman is a graphic designer, writer and public speaker known for her interest in the psychology of type, whose area of expertise is multi sensory typography. Sarah is the founder of the highly innovative Type Tasting studio; and her mission is to change the way we think and talk about typography through her writing, typography workshops and events. Author of two books on typography: Why Fonts Matter and How to Draw Type and Influence People much of Sarah’s work is focused on research into typography and perception. To this end she has worked on several collaborative studies over the last 4 years with the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at University of Oxford.

By 8:50 the library was already full to capacity with a mixture of students and design professionals. Firstly seemingly taken aback by the number of people attending (she had expected 30, I estimated 50 in attendance) Sarah soon happily embraced the popularity of the session and gave a short introduction about her work and started the session. To begin with Sarah asked us to play some type-based games, the results of which would aid her in her research into typography and perception. These games the ‘Sweet or sour experiment’, the ‘Naughty of nice experiment’, the ‘Typographic coffee percolator’ and the ‘VinylType interactive game’ all centred on giving responses to first impressions of specific typefaces when paired with words or letters.

Typographic games

For instance the ‘Sweet or sour experiment’ asked participants to judge, on a scale of Sweetest to Least Sweet, Sourest to Least Sour the flavour of a sweet based on 10 different typefaces all spelling the words ‘Eat me’. Another game the ‘VinylType interactive game’ challenged gamers to guess the genres of music on vinyl records by the single letter type styles used i.e. Formal serif, Decorative brush script, Blackletter etc. A record player set up in the room allowed gamers to hear if their choice was correct.

The VinylType interactive game

An interesting outcome of this specific game, as Sarah pointed out later, was to clearly show the age gap in the room. This was illustrated by Sarah with the use of a Blackletter font on a record. She explained that when she generally asked what type of music people expected to hear on this record the split was always usually between Heavy Metal (people 30+) and Hip Hop (18–30). The reason? People’s perception of this gothic type of lettering has changed over time from it’s use in the 1970’s and 80’s by bands such as Iron Maiden and ACDC to it’s modern day adoption by Kanye West for his Life of Pablo merchandise.

With an emphasis in her work on attempting to demystify typography for non-designers Sarah made many interesting and though provoking points throughout her presentation. ‘Typography is what your voice looks like’ hilariously illustrated by a short session of Typography Karaoke amongst the audience; ‘Type is a Chameleon’; ‘Typefaces have gender stereotypes’; ‘You know what fonts taste like’; ‘Type can make you look cheap or expensive’ and perhaps my favourite ‘Good type makes food taste better’. This she explained was due to typography contributing towards a scientific term called superadditivity, which is when the five senses work together to create a more enjoyable flavour.

Overall Sarah’s talk was highly engaging, stimulating and delivered a much needed dose of fun to the start of a Wednesday morning.


A talk I had also been looking forward to in the run up to the festival was by Amsterdam’s very own ‘Night Mayor’, Mirik Milan. Titled ‘The Night as a Meeting Point for Creative Talent’ Mirik’s presentation showcased his organisations work, as a non profit foundation, to ensuring a dynamic nightlife for the city and to build bridges between the municipality, business owners and residents. As Amsterdam’s Night Mayor since 2012 Mirik, who described himself as a ‘Rebel in a suit’, is a spokesman for all things concerning nightlife in the Dutch capital, a leading European city of innovation.

Mirik Milan, Amsterdam Night Mayor

One of the organisations greatest achievements has been to establish the introduction of 24 hour licensing in the city. The positive impact to the city and it’s creative nightlife community has been to see a number of out of city centre multi-disciplinary hotspots appear. In turn these have helped to rejuvenate neighbourhoods, provided creative people with affordable working space and taken some of the pressure off the city centre at night. Giving the example of Amsterdam West’s De School (a nightclub, restaurant, gallery, gym and community centre housed in a repurposed school in west Amsterdam designed by Dutch architect J.B Ingwersen in 1973) as one of these hotspots Mirik explained how they started by following the example of Berlin in recent years.

De School, Amsterdam

So great has the success of the rejuvenation of the city’s nightlife been that Amsterdam is now globally recognised and as such was asked to organise the first ever Night Mayor Summit in April 2016. At the summit Night Mayors from Paris, Toulouse and Zurich attended and speakers from Berlin, London, Tokyo, Stockholm, Mumbai and San Francisco were present. On the eve of one of Amsterdam’s biggest entertainment calendar events, Kingsday, it was inspiring to hear Mirik’s story and made me feel proud to call Amsterdam home.


Following Mirik’s talk I made my way to view the exhibition of the work entered into the D&AD Professional Awards. With over 26,000 projects on display this year I expected to have to allow for plenty of time to view it. What I hadn’t anticipated, however, was the massive amount space it would take up. Starting on Floor 1 with the Crafts for Design entries it soon became evident to me that there were literally acres of creativity on offer here. A dream come true for any designer to be able to get up and close to great work without anyone telling you to ‘stand back’ or ‘don’t touch’.

The D&AD Awards exhibition — Acres of creativity on show

Within the Crafts for Design section of the exhibition notable and eyecatching winners were as follows:

Wood Pencil for Typefaces: 
Juventus Fans Typeface by
Interbrand Milan

Juventus Fans typeface and application by Interbrand Milan

Project description
We designed a bespoke display typeface to support Juventus’s new identity system. The typeface’s strong rhythm of vertical lines is inspired by the signature black and white stripes of Juventus, while its solid structure gives a strong and sharp appearance. We created 3 weights — Light, Regular and Bold — and 2 super expressive cuts — Bold Inline and Bold Stretched. While it is conceived as a display typeface, the simplified counters help ensuring good legibility even in small sizes.

Wood Pencil for Typography for Design: 
The 20th Biennale of Sydney by
For the People

20th Biennale of Sydney — Media Launch Video by For the People

Project description
The theme of the 20th Biennale of Sydney was titled ‘The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed’. It speaks to our expectations of a future yet to materialise, and that today’s physical and virtual reality has already bypassed it. Situated at 7 key locations as ‘embassies of thought’, the identity connects the venues through iterations of the larger identity. Each embassy has its own typographic language, colour palette and stylised delegate entities. These merge in a dialogue of cultural exchange between spaces, converging and assimilating each other’s characteristics.

Wood Pencil for Animation & Illustration for Websites & Digital Design: 
Telia Company Digital Design by
Wolff Olins

Project description
Don’t do this at work. A series of animated giffs that focus directly on the types of things that employees should NOT do at work, like taking bribes and sharing inappropriate things on social media. We made a website, a newspaper, a computer game and even a Rubik’s Cube. By taking a light hearted approach, we got nearly all of the employees to enjoy engaging with the content, rather than being forced to read it.

Wood Pencil for Illustration for Design:
The København Collection by
Taxi Studio

Moving next to the Graphic Design section of the exhibition I was struck by the extraordinary diversity to be found within this discipline. Spread across a vast hall of the Truman Brewery traditional printed collateral such as calendars, posters, direct mail, stamps, stationery, and annual reports sat shoulder to shoulder with wayfinding, motion graphics, digital, mobile and data visualisation. Here notable winners were as follows:

Wood Pencil for Data Visualisation:
BBH Singapore for Nike Unlimited Stadium

Project description
The Lunar Epic’s footprint contains Nike’s foremost running innovations. We launched it with an equally innovative footprint : The Unlimited Stadium. A full-sized LED running track that brings to life the saying that “An athlete’s greatest competition will always be himself.” Race against an avatar of yourself, pacers, Nike athletes, national records, as well as training programs corresponding to the eight fundamental training runs. It keeps track of your progress and gives lap-by-lap feedback, and contains an incline to challenge you at every round.

Wood Pencil for Integrated Graphics:
Carpenters Wharf by
Jack Renwick Studio

Carpenters Wharf by Jack Renwick Studo

Project description
Carpenters Wharf is a residential property development on Fish Island, Hackney Wick — a former industrial area of London with a revived culture of craft and making.

For fifty years the site of the development was home to a luxury furniture maker, this became the inspiration for the name ‘Carpenters Wharf’ and informed our visual approach.

Inspired by the wood stacks found in timber yards that once populated the island, we used locally-sourced wood from the crafters and makers of the area to create a bespoke set of prints that were used across every execution of the brand.

Wood Pencil for Integrated Graphics:
Staatstheater Mainz CI by
Neue Gestaltung GmbH

Staatstheater Mainz CI by Neue Gestaltung GmbH

Graphite Pencil for Posters:
The Study of Human Being by
Dentsu, Japan

Yellow Pencil for Wayfinding & Environmental Graphics:
Zaans Medical Centre by
Silo

Zaans Medical Centre by Silo

Project description
Together with Mecanoo Architects we have spent two years creating a ‘healing environment’. Patients and visitors of the new Zaans Medical Center will experience an atmosphere designed to support their recovery.

Following the Graphic Design hall of the awards exhibition I made my way up to floor 2 to view the packaging design entries. Whilst taking up considerably less overall space than the graphic design entries downstairs the overall quality of entries on show was no less impressive. Here key standout winners were as follows:

Wood Pencil for Consumer Packaging Design:
Ageing Wine Bottle by
Kolle Rebbe GmbH

Ageing Wine Bottle by Kolle Rebbe GmbH

Wood Pencil for Consumer Packaging Design:
The Domino Effect by
Jones Knowles Ritchie

Project description
Over the years, Domino’s packaging had become overloaded with generic messaging that had little impact with consumers. Our task was to make Domino’s the definitive article once more by redesigning its delivery boxes in the UK. Knowing that 96% of all Domino’s pizzas are sold in pairs, we made the brand’s iconic red and blue domino logo pivotal to the design, and used the brand’s pizza combo deal as a canvas to bring it to life — one red box, one blue box. The result was bold, brave and simple packaging design.

Graphite Pencil for Luxury Packaging Design:
The Badger by
Brand Opus

The Badger by Brand Opus

Project description
Badger’s Collector’s Edition encapsulates the very heart of the brand. An investment-worthy piece to be revered, the packaging reflects the premium positioning of this unique brew. The liquid has been grogged & distilled into Champagne style bottles, complete with agglomerate cork & hand-dipped gloss black wax seal. White lacquer & hand-painted black stripes allows the bottle to become an expression of The Badger itself. The craft continues onto the outer tube where leaves collected from Dorset woodland create a pattern symbolic of a Badger’s sett.

Onto the Spatial & Experiential Design entries where these winners caught my attention:

Wood Pencil for Hospitality & Workplace interiors:
Meteor Cinema by
http://www.onepluspartnership.com/

Meteor Cinema by One Plus Partnership

Yellow Pencil for Installation Design:
Kunstmuseum Basel Light Frieze by
iart ag

Project description
For the new building of the Kunstmuseum Basel, the engineers and media designers at iart.ch, together with architects Christ & Gantenbein, have developed a light frieze that subtly enlivens the building’s brick facade. This video was filmed during the testing phase of the facade in spring 2016.

Graphite Pencil for Design for Public Spaces:
Windlicht by
Studio Roosegaarde

Project description
WINDLICHT shows the beauty of green energy by connecting windmill blades with lines of light.

Special software and tracking technology detect the windmill blades rotating at 280 kilometres per hour. Roosegaarde: “WINDLICHT creates the missing link between the Dutch and the beauty of our new landscape.”

Daan Roosegaarde was inspired by Kinderdijk. For him these windmills from 1740 are a perfect example of Dutch innovation. Reconnecting with the landscape and creating a positive image around green energy also drives him. Roosegaarde developed the artwork together with his team of designers and engineers.

And finally onto the Branding awards section which felt like a never ending labyrinth of high quality work. Interestingly whilst some of the years headline branding design cases were on show as entries (i.e. NatWest by Futurebrand, Premier League by Designstudio, Race Against Dementia by Brand Union, Optus by Re: Sydney) many appear to have been overlooked for pencils in favour of fresher and quirkier work. Here are some of the standout winners:

Graphite Pencil for Branding Schemes/Large Organisation:
Viceland by Gretel New York

Project description
VICELAND is the new television network by VICE, the most notorious and innovative youth media brand in the world. With a focus on global lifestyle and culture, the network’s original content slices across the cultural spectrum: food, sex, fashion, music, sports, politics and more.

The VICELAND brand is equal parts exhibition catalog and street flyer; Craigslist and couture; generic and refined. It is simultaneously the elevated ‘high’ and vernacular ‘low.’ A translation of the VICE sensibility, it’s blunt and raw. An exposed structure, a functional language free of decoration, artifice and veneer. The brand is an objective frame for the network’s content. Unstyled, unslick, unadorned.

Graphite Pencil for Branding Schemes/Medium Organisation:
Genesis Beijing Branding Schemes by Wolff Olins

Genesis Beijing Branding Schemes by Wolff Olins

Project description
Genesis Beijing wanted to create a new urban experience based on mental wellbeing and social connection — for everyone. In line with Genesis Beijing’s deep conviction, the brand was built on Chinese philosophy — specifically the notion of ‘wu wei’ or ‘effortless effort’ which means living more instinctively, going with the flow, not resisting change. The idea at the heart is ‘lose yourself to find yourself’. The brand is intended to create a state of mind, not just convey a message.

Wood Pencil for Branding Schemes/Medium Organisation
Visual Identity Conducted by Sir Simon Rattle by The Partners

Project description
Our new identity for London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) depicts the conductor’s movements, as he creates and shapes a musical performance, reflecting the emotional power of music through colour, texture, and motion.

Wood Pencil for Branding Schemes/Medium Organisation
Visual Identity for Oslo City Bike by Urban Infrastructure Partner

Oslo City Bike by Urban Infrastructure Partner

Project description
The identity is centered around a simple abstraction of a bike, whose main function is to present itself in an attentive but subdued manner. In channels where you interact with the service, the identity opens up. The logo comes to life in a lively character guiding you through the service; It’ll tell you if something is wrong, inform you of slippery roads and give you a high five after an ended ride. Product and brand are one and the same, designed to create a user-friendly experience.

Wood Pencil for Branding Schemes/Small Organisation
The Butcher The Baker by The Partners

Project description
When the third-generation owner of a Dundee artisan bakery joined forces with a much-loved, family-owned butcher, the partnership created the dream branding opportunity. We were asked to create a new identity, bringing together two traditional establishments in a contemporary and innovative alliance.

We simply couldn’t ignore the traditional rhyme: ‘The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker’, which provided the perfect foundation for our approach.

We kept the name simple: The Butcher The Baker (the other being implied). The logo takes the shape of a candlestick, which subtly contains inverted silhouettes of the butcher and the baker, beautifully yet simply encapsulating the uniqueness of the brand offering.

Wood Pencil for Logos
Eero Aarnio Originals by
Bond Creative Agency

Eero Aarnio Originals by Bond Creative Agency

Project description
Eero Aarnio is the designer and innovator behind some of the most recognisable and beloved Finnish furniture pieces of the last century. We created the logo for the new company Eero Aarnio Originals, the manufacturer of Aarnio’s original designs. The symbol is based on Aarnio’s most iconic design, the Ball Chair.


Exiting the exhibition some four hours later with sore feet, tired eyes but full of insights and ideas it was time for me to leave the D&AD Festival and make my way back to Amsterdam. Overall the festival, in my estimation, is a big hit and I hope to be able to visit again next year. Thanks D&AD for the inspiration.

Before I go please spare a thought for a very special winner. 
Meet Graham, my distinctive looking namesake.

Black Pencil for Public Affairs Campaign:
Meet Graham by
Clemenger BBDO Melbourne

Project description
In the face of a rising road toll, how do you make people stop and consider their own vulnerability? Meet Graham, the only person designed to survive on our roads. Part interactive sculpture, part educational tool and ultimately a catalyst for conversation, Graham shows us how the human body would need to change to survive a car crash. Using decades of road safety data, medical research and creativity a trauma surgeon, a road safety engineer and a world-renowned artist reimagined the human form to deliver evolution underpinned by evidence.


About the author:

Graham Sturt is Creative Director of Dutch design agency VBAT.

Originally from England, he lived and worked in London for more than a decade before relocating to Amsterdam in 2007 to follow his passion for Dutch design.