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
Professional Notable: AM - A Movement Against Screen Schmutz, by aruliden
Roelofs sums this work from aruliden up in one question: "How is it possible to make cleaning your computer screen so fun?" AM - A Movement Against Screen Schmutz is an all-in-one line of cleaning products that's looking to be much more than a mere cleaning solution. The design team created a "movement against schmutz" with a digital and print campaign focused on educating users about the grime they encounter on a daily basis. "This incredibly fresh and bright design approach leverages accessible typography (and clever writing), a brilliant bright color palette and charming illustrations that bring a mundane subject to life," says Roelofs. "What most impressed me was how the design vocabulary and tone was cohesively extended across all collateral and media platforms."
» Learn more about AM—A Movement Against Screen Schmutz
Professional Notable: Memória Militante Collection, by Gustavo Piqueira
"Memória Militante" is a visual testimony from leftist militants in Brazil. The non-fiction book from Gustavo Piqueira made a strong impression on the jury team. "While some projects incurred debate or uncertainty, this was an obvious Yes for all of us. Impactful, interesting graphics made the mark," says Bantjes.
» Learn more about Memória Militante Collection
Professional Notable: Brazilian Clichés (Clichês Brasileiros), by Gustavo Piqueira
Also by Gustavo Piqueira, Brazilian Clichés (Clichês Brasileiros) shares an equally intriguing side of Brazilian culture: letterpress. This book shares a visual narrative of the country's letterpress clichés. "We had some discussion about whether this was an 'illustration' project rather than 'Design,' but it's not necessary to have words to be design," says Bantjes, "and it was unanimous that we were attracted to the loose, happy feel of these pieces made from old letterpress advertising."
» Learn more about Brazilian Clichés (Clichês Brasileiros)
Professional Notable: Rent Regulation Rights, by The Center for Urban Pedagogy and IntraCollaborative
The Center for Urban Pedagogy and IntraCollaborative teamed up to design a pamphlet—both in Chinese and English—to help rent-stabilized tenants know their rights and use them in times of illegal evictions and landlord altercations. Rent Regulation Rights successfully transformed complication verbiage and legalese into a cohesive design, including illustrations and simple text. This work especially appeals to recent immigrants. "This signals, in an immediate and attractive way that there is important fundamental information that needs to be in the hands of a specific group of people who may have language, communication and cultural issues preventing them from knowing their rights and/or seeking help," says Mushet." Functional, inviting and in the service of justice."
» Learn more about Rent Regulation Rights
Professional Notable: S., by Melcher Media and Headcase Design
S. is an interactive story by Melcher Media and Headcase Design centered around the a fictional novel, "The Ship of Theseus." The story follows two students as they discover the author's secrets when they find the book and begin to converse via written message in the margins. The book comes with 22 pieces of ephemera. "I thought the presentations for this was pretty good, with the video showing the opening of the slip cover and the contents of the pages," says Bantjes. "Still I wish we'd had a copy in hand, and I suspect it would at least have been a contender for the winner. It looks gorgeous."
» Learn more about S.
Professional Notable: New York City Beaches, by Pentagram
After Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, New York's beaches were left in tatters. Pentagram's project "New York City Beaches" was the visual component of the restoration work to reopen the parks to the public for the 2013 summer season. "This is super graphics on a major scale," says Roelofs. "This design approach balances the worlds of information/wayfinding requirements with sophisticated and current execution. They have created a festive and iconic identity for beaches that NYC residents needed after suffering the trauma of a natural disaster. Apart from the unique and contemporary color palette, the employment of photography, both in content and in presentation, is particularly effective."
» Learn more about New York City Beaches
Professional Notable: Archive13: Ritual Posters, by Nick Adam & Matthew Wizinsky
Nick Adam and Matthew Wizinsky helped The Chicago Design Archive document the "now-ness" of 2013 with their wall hangings. The duo came out on top in a competition put on by the Archive to induct examples of contemporary work into the organization's archive. "I confess that I saw these in Chicago when I spoke there and I liked them so much I asked them to send me a set," says Bantjes. "I think they're rich and unusual, and if they're worthy of being in my archive, they're worthy of being here."
» Learn more about Archive13: Ritual Posters
Professional Notable: EXP CAL YYYY Calendar Poster, by Elizabeth Ward
The EXP CAL YYYY Calendar Poster takes the visual style of expiration dates and turns them into something you may not discarding when the date passes. Elizabeth Ward's year-long calendar is marked throughout with brightly colored sticky notes that can be repositioned to tag special days. "The funny thing about this was that we were literally in a rant about f****** calendars, and how all calendars should be disqualified when this came up and we took it all back," says Bantjes. "LOVE IT."
» Learn more about EXP CAL YYYY Calendar Poster
Professional Notable: Hatch 53: Datastronomy, by SapientNitro
"Datastronomy" is the design system that SapientNitro created for the 53rd annual Hatch Awards, including a logo, book cover, print ephemera, a digital billboard and motion graphics—all with a compelling occult aesthetic. "This piece has a mysterious feel to it that I really liked. Part science, part magic: It really piqued my curiosity and made me look closer, which is what all design should do," says Bantjes.
» Learn more about Hatch 53: Datastronomy
Student Notable: Oded Ezer Lecture Posters, by Chloe Scheffe
Rhode Island School of Design student Chloe Scheffe took on a tough project when she decided to embody Israeli typography extraordinaire Oded Ezer in a series of type-based posters. The work was designed to promote a talk by Ezer at RISD. The most elaborate poster hung at the event, while informational versions were distributed among the campus. "It is typical of students, when making posters for visiting lecturers, to emulate that person's 'style' and, more often than not, get it completely wrong," says Bantjes. "But these posters really understand what Oded Ezer does with typography and without in any way trying to replicate his work, it makes a nice ode to what he's about."
» Learn more about Oded Ezer Lecture Posters
Student Notable: Gauthier & Nolet Architects Identity, by Justin Bechard
Gauthier & Nolet Architects may be a fictional firm used as a jumping point for a creative project, but the Gauthier & Nolet Architects Identity is worthy of a real client. Justin Bechard's work consists of a logo, stationery, website and poster series. The made-up firm specializes in "audaciously curved buildings," which makes for a beautiful branding canvas. "I was in favor of this getting the winning prize, I was so impressed with the thoughtfulness and consistency of the identity, the great typography and the unique and interesting identity," says Gruendler.
» Learn more about Gauthier & Nolet Architects Identity
Student Notable: 1daywaste, by Valentine Mayuran Emmanuel
Instead of stating the oft-heard facts citing where our trash goes and how much we're sending into landfills, Köln International School of Design student Valentine Mayuran Emmanuel designed a visual that turns recycling into a much more intimate practice. Her series, 1daywaste, documents one days' worth of trash from participants around the world. "I loved the subtlety of this. Language, culture, branding and ubiquitous patterns of consumption and waste all come together in simple, delicate compositions," says Mushet.
» Learn more about 1daywaste
Student Notable: Christopher's Room, by Youngeun Sohn
Seoul National University student Youngeun Sohn created a fictitious world and books from his imaginary character Christopher John Francis Boone—a 15-year-old boy and character of a mystery novel from a book by Mark Haddon called "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." Sohn imagined Christopher's space and matched its aesthetic to the boy's personality, as learned from reading the story. "This was a very contentious entry and it was in and out several times," says Bantjes. "We were all put off by the pretentious rationale, but ultimately we found it a unique and interesting student exercise that appeared to show some original thinking, as well as being well-executed."
» Learn more about Christopher's Room