Ad agencies shine in updated Best Awards finalists list

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AUCKLAND, Today: A pig’s backside, chocolate squid ice cream, an AI bot that fights email scammers, mini Lord of the Rings action figures, dice to decide your downtime activities and an app to help victims of domestic violence.

These designs are among the 2018 finalists in New Zealand’s annual Best Design Awards, organised by the Designers Institute of New Zealand.

There were 1182 entries submitted from a broad set of nine design disciplines including graphic, interactive, moving image, spatial, product, public good, user experience, and an indigenous award.

The finalists include Assembly, FCB, Flux Animation, Colenso BBDO, Special Group, Oddboy, Alt Group, and DNA.

DINZ ceo Cathy Veninga said: “New Zealand designers continue to blow me away with the design quality and thinking behind the client work. Our business community should have nothing but pride about the work our design community achieves to help them do better business. Great design gives those businesses a market edge.

“It’s impressive to see outputs where there has clearly been deeper thinking and collaboration between design teams and clients,” she said. “The world faces many issues and designers bring a focus that is transformational that can help solve key issues within our communities, demonstrating a greater emphasis on who we are solving issues for – humans.”

Vee Kessner, president of the Designers Institute and convener for the spatial discipline and director of specialist design studio Space Studio, said the ‘retail’ and ‘workplace’ categories stood above the rest for the judges.

“The finalists include DDB, Assembly, FCB, Flux Animation, Colenso BBDO, Special Group, Oddboy, Alt Group, and DNA.”

“Our comment on workplace design really was around the fact that they’re engaging with a whole lot of different types of designs; they’re on brand, but they’re also accommodating the different ways we work. Some have almost a residential feel to them, for a level of comfort at work rather than being too corporate in many ways, so that was encouraging,” said Kessner.

Fellow Spatial judge Naiomi Rushmer said the finalists often looked beyond the built environment to consider the sensory opportunities and layers that make up the entire experience. “In the retail category, there was a real quality in the craftsmanship and just the level of attention to the customer experience as part of a retail store,” she said.

“I think things have become a little more user-centred and more curated and considered.”

Human-centred design was factored into the judging process across the disciplines, with Product design judge Melissa Bornholdt saying it is the basis of all design. “The design process we go through is all based around the humans so, what research or processes have they done to achieve that level of design,” she said.

“That’s definitely the thing with every category.”

A designer for Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Bornholdt said: “I feel really proud to come here and judge the other New Zealand designers. To see the quality we produce is really outstanding, and I think that remains from year to year.”

Creative director of design studio Seachange Timothy Donaldson also believes the local design community is thriving. As a first-time judge in the Graphics discipline, Donaldson says he was “blown away” by the high standard of work coming from the New Zealand design community.

“The industry is in great heart,” he said. “I’ve come from 10 years in London. Internationally, I would say our level of work is exceptional.”

The winners of the Best Design Awards 2018 will be announced at the Viaduct Events Centre on Saturday 22 September 22.

  • A full list of finalists in each category can be viewed at
  • Or join the conversation by using #bestawards or follow @bestawards for updates.
  • Our image (above) is Netsafe Re:scam from DDB.

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