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Best Awards 2020,

10th December 2020, News by Marx Design

“You should be a designer,” your friends said. It started in high school, in the back of class, drawing dumb cartoons and inventing fonts. “You’re a good drawer, you’re quite artsy and stuff....”

So you thought about it. The idea of making a living from creativity felt exciting. Design didn’t seem like a regular 9 to 5, nowadays it's mostly doing things on a computer, saving files to pdf right?

“Do a design course,” they said. “It only takes a few years, you can make good money too”. So you applied, mostly to get out of your hometown and into the big smoke. Design school was tough, way more challenging than cruising through high school. But the other students were cool, your kind of people, arty and intense. You made it through and graduated. At the end a big student loan was waiting, even though you’d worked two jobs while studying. Then you realised everyone wanted to be a designer, or thought they could do it themselves. You had to hustle. Getting decent work was tough, it almost broke you.

There was the freelance job you really nailed but they “forgot” to pay you. The agency where sales and marketing argued about the logo placement over your shoulder for an hour. You bit your tongue as flecks of spit landed on your favourite Commes des Garcon sweater. The company owner who made you finish a product catalog in a day, paying you less than the cleaner for your 14 hours.

“You should be a designer,'' they said. And so you became a designer, whatever that means.

Your family all thinks you work in IT. The student loan is still there. Your tradie mates who stayed back home are buying houses. But now you couldn't imagine doing anything else, your work is getting good and the right people are starting to notice you.

And now you’re here in this crowded, noisy room, a crackle of anticipation in the air. This is your tribe and they’re here to party, even the fact you’ve been invited this year seems like you’ve already won something. You feel like this is where you belong and now the creative director is passing around drink tickets.

Ok, so that’s a roundabout way of arriving at the 2020 Best Design Awards. But 2020 has been a long, drawn out, messed up year.

When Marx was asked to create a campaign for the 2020 awards we analysed what had come before and thought about what fresh energy we could bring to the work. The campaign needed to stimulate interest in the awards and drive entries across the broad range of Best design categories, from Product to Public Good.

The Best Awards are the defining event of the NZ design calendar. They’re an occasion for exceptional designers to be recognised by their peers and an excuse to come together and celebrate as a community. The Best’s mean a lot to both agencies and individual designers. They provide acknowledgement of achievements and hard work, appeal to clients hungry to work with visionary thinkers and provide an often rare sense of validation for emerging designers. DINZ is an institution that nurtures excellence, it’s a driving force dedicated to lifting NZ design up to the world stage. We felt a strong sense of wanting to give back to the wider design community which had been so supportive of us over the years.

Working with Never Sit Still, we created a two minute animation as a centrepiece to open the awards night. We set out to create something which held intrigue and was hard to define, work that evoked emotion yet was ultimately ambiguous and open to interpretation. We wanted the viewer to make up their own mind about it. As somebody wise once said; “what you see in the abstract often says more about you than the work you’re viewing”. Let’s just say we were happy to keep the mystery alive.

These organic shapes from the animation also subtly influenced other award night assets like goodies bags with off centre handles and a plant-based water bottle in collaboration with Futurity manufacturing.

Another key factor was that 2020 would be the first fully bilingual Best awards; in partnership with Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, so embracing and incorporating Te Reo Māori into the work was hugely important. All text was presented in both Te Reo and English to help reignite the language and connect design with the unique identity of Aotearoa. Some classic design buzzwords and catchphrases got a Te Reo makeover, next time you feel like dropping the word “collaboration” in a meeting why not use “mahi tahi” instead? Sounds way better right?

All 2020/Covid 19/pandemic/lockdown cliches aside, we also saw the awards as an opportunity to put aside the turbulence and upheaval of 2020 and live in the moment for a night, summed up by the line “Me whakanui kotahi tātou” (tonight we celebrate). Did we celebrate? Oh āe we did. 

Want more? See the full case study.