Visual communication is perhaps the most accessible design discipline, both for its sheer ubiquity and its broad mandate to convey an idea as clearly and memorably as possible. It could be a poster, billboard, pamphlet or even a simple design element like a calendar on the wall that initially pulls us into the work of the designers and firms around us. The 2014 Core77 Design Awards honorees in the Visual Communication category turned out to be the second largest group of honorees. From fictitious brand identities to an anthology of infographics to a good ol'-fashioned student-produced zine, there's enough work in here to keep you browsing for a couple of hours.
The jury team—led by designer, typographer, writer and illustrator Marian Bantjes—shared the 18 projects that they thought best showed the spirit of visual communications. Read on to learn more about the honored work:
Professional Winner: The Infographic History of the World, by Valentina D'Efilippo
As its title suggests, "The Infographic History of the World" is a veritable trove of graphic design gems. Valentina D'Efilippo's compilation of infographics follows everything from galactic families to the evolution of man—in short, you're getting nearly 14 billion years of information in one volume. "This is a conflation everything the world needs right now: a rediscovery of the joys of reading and the printed page; seductive and clever graphic representations of historical data and a joyful immersion in learning," says juror Mark Mushet. "The seamless video helped this one past any hurdles. Bonus points for being an attractive product that will appeal to absolutely anyone!"
» Learn more about The Infographic History of the World
Student Winner: LAXART Museum, by Young JooTak
Art Center College of Design student Young JooTak rebranded the LAXART Museum's identity down to its very last design element. The project included a new website design, interactive communication, print campaigns, media art, 3D graphics, product packaging, book and magazine layouts, virtual environments and creation of graphic identities and branded experiences. "I was really surprised this was a student project. It looked so real: completely plausible, with many levels of engagement worked out," says Bantjes. "I like the mark a lot: a very high-tech-looking X with all sorts of spin-off possibilities. It successfully combined the clean/modern thing with a really recognizable identity."
» Learn more about Laxart Museum
Professional Runner Up: Bezos Center for Innovation, by Studio Matthews with Olson Kundig Architects
The 5,000 sq. ft. space that Studio Matthews and Olson Kundig Architects designed pulls its inspiration from a well-known design buzzword: innovation. The goal of the exhibition is to inspire and help visitors learn about Seattle's creative history, as well as it's reputation for standout global companies. "You would expect that a healthy budget for design would guarantee success, but this is certainly not always the case," says juror Paul Roelofs. "In this instance, that budget was used to create an incredibly fresh package of interactive displays to describe the complex concept of innovation. The multitude of approaches designed to tell that story are themselves seamless with the content. It is a brilliant and engaging execution."
» Learn more about Bezos Center for Innovation
Professional Runner Up: Herman Miller Collection, by Hello Design
Herman Miller is by no means a new name to anyone with a bit of interest in design, and the Herman Miller Collection—designed by Hello Design—highlights precisely the allure we've come to expect from the storied brand. The collection was designed to be photographed in the Eames Case Study House. The design team also launched a video showcasing the ins and outs of the line's production."Sexy, sexy," says juror Shelley Gruendler. "We oohed and aaahed over the imagery, and despite the clichÃ© of awarding a prize to such an obvious project, we really were seduced by the interface, the navigation and the wealth of information."
» Learn more about Herman Miller Collection
Student Runner Up: 512Stew, by 512stew
512Stew is a one-off zine that covers Austin culture through photography, illustrations and text. 18 University of Texas at Austin design students put the 300-page book together and ran an Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds for printing, limited-edition dust jackets, bookmarks and the ever-important launch party. "As an educator I can really appreciate the benefit of this project for students," says Gruendler. "Many students come out of school with too much concept and not enough execution, but this project, to teach people to actually get a publication done from start to finish including costing and printing and launching is just a really great experience and a wonderful result.
» Learn more about 512Stew
The 3D printing revolution has been a long time coming—but, to borrow William Gibson's famous quote, it's just not very evenly distributed. Or rather, it's limited to the constraint of a relatively small build platform, at least when it comes to affordable consumer- and prosumer-level machines. "At one extreme, software tools are empowering individuals to envision, create and share their own designs; while at another, low-cost digital fabrication machines are allowing these one-of-a-kind creations to be built and consumed from the comfort of our homes," says designer Marcelo Coelho. "However, while 3D printers are becoming increasingly accessible and capable of rivaling the quality of professional equipment, they are still inherently limited by a small print volume, placing severe constraints on the type and scale of objects we can create."
Working with fellow designer and technologist Skylar Tibbits, Coelho developed Hyperform, an algorithmic software solution that marks the growth—literally—of digital fabrication. The project was named a Professional Runner Up in the Speculative category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards.
In order to virtually expand the build volume of the FORM 1 desktop SLA machine, Tibbits and Coelho developed an algorithm that transforms a desired form—which can be larger than the printer itself—into an origami-like chain structure, which can be unfolded into the bigger final product. Where the conventional method is to default to piecemeal fabrication, Hyperform allows the object to be printed in a single piece. "Hyperform encodes assembly information into the actual parts, so there is no need for a separate assembly instruction sheet and parts don't need to be individually labeled and sorted," says Coelho.
Just to put this into perspective, check out the 50-foot chain that was made using the printer's 5” × 5” × 6” print volume:
You've seen what the machine is capable of—creating crazy long links of fiber—but check out how it's done:
At the heart of every design, there is a problem—or rather, a solution. The end result might broadly be called a product, but insofar as this definition doesn't specify a physical artifact, design practice can take a number of other forms. In fact, Strategy and Research suggests a more rigorous approach to design in general, at once more fundamental than a given instance of a problem and more profound than a single product. The 2014 Core77 Design Awards honorees in the Strategy & Research category represent a worthy selection of these projects.
Larry Keeley, President and Co-Founder of Doblin Inc., led the jury team in choosing their top 13 entries of the bunch. Learn more about each one below.
Professional Winner: Pearson Common Core System of Courses, by POSSIBLE Los Angeles
While information is becoming more digital by the day, one end user may have had the most benefit from the transition: student. Physical textbooks can be incredibly heavy for the students wo have to tote them around and expensive for the school providing them, and once you get to college, you're subject to both inconveniences. POSSIBLE Los Angeles has introduced the Pearson Common Core System in response—a digital experience for the classroom, specifically early learning atmospheres. "This is a bold action taken by a textbook market leader to solve an important and gnarly problem: textbooks are wildly anachronistic," says the jury. They are too costly for school districts, too heavy for students, and nowhere near interactive enough for the way young people learn now. It is rare to see the market leader be this bold in disrupting their core products—and for this reason it rose to the level of being truly strategic."
» Learn more about Pearson Common Core System of Courses
Student Winner: Redesigning the Air Ambulance, by Sean Jalleh
Tending to medical emergencies in the air is a delicate task, given the size and weight constraints of the setting. North Carolina State University student Sean Jalleh accepted the challenge of strategizing the best way to house patients, medications and equipment during inter-hospital air travel. The jury weighs in: "This is a thorough, rigorous, solution-oriented approach to rethinking the interior design of helicopters used as air ambulances. The emphasis is clearly on physical and cognitive human factors, and we liked the way the problem was tough enough that everyone involved knows you can't afford to be wrong. We also liked the way that the recommendations were communicated well--—including clear diagrams that revealed how the design was completely optimized for effective medical care in tight spaces.
» Learn more about Redesigning the Air Ambulance
Professional Runner Up: Making the Giraffe Path, by Aki Ishida and Lynnette Widder
NYC Parks that date back to the 20th Century are easily overshadowed by the novelty of the quasi-futuristic High Line. Architect Aki Ishida and Columbia University Professor Lynnette Widder are shining a light on five of the city's parks through workshop events and explorative artifacts to help visitors pull the connections between the five areas. The duo delivered a "play book" that visually documented data and strategies for future path-making. "We have entered a new era of urban design where amenities like parks and public spaces are finally getting the professional attention they deserve," says the jury. "This project is a bold attempt to open up the design of an engaging trail way that would connect five Northern Manhattan urban parks in ways that could make them as collectively engaging as New York's High Line or Chicago's Millennium Park. We especially liked the way this team reframed their urban design challenge from trail mapping to trail making, and especially commend them for the 3D dynamic development techniques they used and the lovely human scale feel of the work."
» Learn more about Making the Giraffe Path
Professional Runner Up: Physical Assets for Adolescent Girls, by Yves Behar & fuseproject
This project from Yves Behar and fuseproject for the Nike Foundation's Girl Effect program looks to empower girls and help break the cycle of poverty. The team developed four prototypes and tested them on a two-week immersion study in Rwanda, bringing research and reactions back to improve the designs. While the jury wasn't so crazy about the title, they did appreciate the way the team rose to a difficult design challenge: "We felt this was a terrible name for an important idea: use solid design tradecraft to identify the smallest number of artifacts to reinvent that would make the greatest difference in the daily lives of young girls growing up in war-torn Rwanda. Often the really tough challenges demand and deserve the best design methods, and this design team rose to the challenge effectively."
» Learn more about Physical Assets for Adolescent Girls
Student Runner Up: VisPo - Visual Poetry, by Stephanie Bhim
Poetry is one of those artforms that means somethin different to every reader. University of Technology – Sydney student Stephanie Bhim is adding another layer of interpretation with her work, VisPo. The app houses a series of poems, each with their own set of visuals—devices that display various objective language and poetr7 techniques. "We all agreed that it was visionary: It makes the subtle, sometimes abstruse and technically complex conventions in poems and makes reading and interpreting poetry more engaging, accessible and beguiling," says the jury. "We were especially impressed with the way a student from the University of Technology Sydney, acting alone, made poetry visual, artful and emotional—in ways that go far beyond anything that could be done in an analog, print-only form... Of all entries— student and professional—in the too often dry arena of strategy and research, this was the only entry with a sense of wonder."
» Learn more about VisPo—Visual Poetry
Student Runner Up: MLKL, by Jeongdae Kim
University of Arts Bremen student Jeongdae Kim takes to areas plagued with logging and fire damage with his work, MLKL. The eco-friendly material effectively turns topsoil into a net, helping plant roots stay rooted and thrive. This solution is intended for areas prone to landslides, where it can be hard for trees to develop expansive root systems. The jury's thoughts: "Sadly, we seem to now be in a new era where natural calamities are more frequent, more severe, and more diverse. One smart design response is to be resilient—design to anticipate and prevent or lessen the severity of calamities. This team from The University of the Arts Bremen did precisely this by creating a new system that will help protect the land from catastrophic erosion following logging and/or fires... We expect this theme—design for resilience—to be crucial on our overheated planet."
» Learn more about MLKL
Some of us plan vacations based on a region's culinary specialties—which, for the record, is completely legitimate and delicious. Scouring travel books for information on locavorous delights is one thing, but in the interest of making cuisine more, um, digestible, we recommend Food Maps, by photographer Henry Hargreaves and chef/stylist Caitlin Levin. Joining forces as Hargreaves and Levin, the duo recently received a DIY Notable in the 2014 Core77 Design Awards for a series of maps depicting each country made up with its popular foodstuffs.
But the maps are much more than messes waiting to happen. "We have taken many of the iconic foods of countries and continents and turned them into physical maps," says the team. "These maps show how food has traveled the globe—transforming and becoming a part of the cultural identity of that place."
The work is detailed, demarcating different states and provinces with different ingredients. The use of perishable materials served as de facto deadlines for creating work. "The food was perishable, so we had to make it quickly so the ingredients didn't start to turn and look awful," says Hargreaves. Because who wants to look at an Italy made up of mushy, bruised tomatoes?
The finished products look good enough to eat, but the process was just as painstaking as any recipe you'd find in a Julia Childs cookbook. Check out this behind-the-scenes video:
Whether you're taking your route into your own hands with a bike or traveling as a passenger on a commercial flight, transportation is about much more than just getting from point A to point B. While we're not holding our collective breath for, say, self-driving cars or commercial space travel, we've seen plenty of innovations on the ground and in the sky in the Transportation category of the Core77 Design Awards.
General Motors' Christine Park led the jury team in choosing this year's honorees, which cover transportation designs of various scales and end users:
Professional Winner: Sandwichbikes, by Basten Leijh
The latest manifestation of the flatpack construction craze is Sandwichbikes, a build-it-yourself bike model that helps riders get to know the ins and outs of their ride in an intuitive way. The bike, designed by Basten Leijh, uses locally sourced beechwood from Germany. The jury was most impressed by the designer's ability to involve consumers: "We were drawn to the concept of engaging customers through assembling the bicycle, creating a unique experience and heightened sense of ownership. The design of the bicycle along with its packaging and graphics were consistent and appealing overall. The usage of laminate wood and its sustainable story was equally impressive as the design itself."
» Learn more about Sandwichbikes
Student Winner: The Future of Offshore Supply, by Martin Skogholt Hansen and Mikael Johansen
The Future of Offshore Supply is an exploration into maritime design, specifically offshore vessels and how they contribute to the economy. Oslo School of Architecture and Design students Martin Skogholt Hansen and Mikael Johansen took the opportunity to increase efficiency, safety and flexibility while challenging the role of traditional industry designs with a vessel that features an attachable water trailer of sorts. "We were impressed with the concept of a supply vessel that is efficient in cargo handling while strategically adding value to the economy of Norway," says the jury. "The layers of details in the design created an interest that drew us deeper in wanting to know more. The design was best in appearance, concept and presentation in that it effectively utilized graphics, rendering composition, colors and details. All design elements cohesively tied together with the concept."
» Learn more about The Future of Offshore Supply