Scottish Design Awards 2003

By The Drum | Administrator

June 18, 2003 | 13 min read

Rockstar North's Grand Prix and website winner

Nerves were jangling, as they always do, as the Scottish design and architectural communities sat patiently to find out who were this year’s top dogs and who were the unlucky pups. As it turned out, Rockstar North and Gordon Murray + Alan Dunlop stepped up to accept this year’s Grand Prix awards. Gordon Laing goes through the results and looks at the winning work in more detail.

The judges chatted excitedly as they passed around the wine bottles. A chuckle or two was shared as yet another bottle of whisky was discarded on the table and the rabble moved back to the wine. So it continued, as the judges quenched their curiosity. And it hadn’t even reached lunch yet.

The judging at the 2003 Scottish Design Awards was a merry affair. Yet the wine was never even opened – until lunch, at any rate. Moods were jollied by the work on show, which was often debated but infrequently debatable, as the judges made their slow journey around each category, pulling out their favourite items from the display and bringing them back to the boardroom table for debate.

The candyfloss-pink Babe and the macho black Dude wine bottles designed by Graphic Partners were always going to attract attention. But win awards? Well, on that the judges were undecided initially. However, the strikingly designed bottles were the talk of the panel as they deliberated around the table.

The judging panel, chaired by Aziz Cami of The Partners, consisted of Jonathan Ellery of Browns, Lynda Relph-Knight, editor of Design Week, Adrian Berry of Factory Design, Mark Hurst from McCann-Erickson, Simon Waterfall of Poke London and Fiona Curran representing Williams Murray Hamm.

The debate that surrounded (almost) every decision was intense. Touchy-feely, upside-down, wrong-way-round. Everything was considered in depth.

However, the chat kept returning to drink. It was the chairman of the panel who halted this talk at the end of the judging session when he nominated the Babe and Dude wine bottles for his coveted Chairman’s Award.

“If you go to a client with a design like this it is advisable to take a spare pare of underpants,” said Cami, rotating the pink bottle in his hands.

Making his choice final, Cami said of the bottles: “I see this design as a response to tradition – beyond irony. The packaging is edgy and interesting in a difficult and often staid market.”

The Grand Prix Award winner attracted much less debate, but just as much excitement.

Edinburgh-based Rockstar North, formerly DMA Design, has been part of Rockstar Games since September 1999, when it was acquired by the parent company, Take 2 Interactive Inc. Its self-promoting website was marvelled over in one of the strongest contested categories.

All judges agreed that the entry from Rockstar North would not look out of place in any award ceremony, be it Scotland, London or New York. It was viewed as “complete” and “original” by the judging team and there were few arguments as to where the top prize should go – let alone for the accolade of Best Website, where it fended off competition from Chunk Ideas for John Smiths as well as its own website and navyblue with a site for Lancefield Quay. Still, this category was one of the most highly regarded by the judges for the general standard of entries.

The award for Best Publication was also highly contested by the judges, with a great deal of praise lauded upon the larger than normal number of entries. After one of the longest debates of the day, the accolade was awarded to navyblue for its heavyweight publication for Scotland and Ireland’s Euro 2008 Bid. navyblue fended off strong competition from Freight Design for their self-commissioned book “The Hope That Kills Us”, Nevis Design’s book “Imagination” for Dundee College of Art and “Anatomy Of The House” by Graven Images for The Lighthouse.

The judges were unimpressed by the standard of work on display in the Corporate Literature category, with Redpath’s work for the British Council Scotland the only piece catching the eye. It was given a commendation.

As always, the Annual Report category attracted a high number of entries and the judges had a hard time whittling down the competition. However, when eventually left with two pieces of work, they were unable to unanimously, or even proportionately, choose a winner. Both Elmwood and newton.eh6 were deemed winners for their work for Scottish Ambulance Service and Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Services.

However, the judges’ high spirits were again tempered by the work entered for the Best Use of Paper category. Out of the entries, it was only Elmwood’s work for Tullis Russell Paper that was commended.

The Stationery category was won by Elmwood for their PR client Hot Tin Roof. Whitespace (Henzteeth) and Graphic Partners (Bud Flowers) were both commended.

Nevis was awarded the Corporate Identity prize for its fishmonger client, George Campbell & Sons – a popular choice among the judges, while Graven Images and newton.eh6 were both commended for entries for Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Executive respectively.

999 Design’s amusing yet effective advertising was the only commendation in the Self Promotion category. However, the Best Promotional Literature was well represented this year with Elmwood scooping the top accolade in the category for Curtis Fine Papers. Commended were Revolver (AMX), NE6/Nevis (Prospero) and Teviot (Ronaldson’s Wharf).

There was only one nomination in the Direct Mail category – One O’Clock Gun’s Wedding Invite, which was awarded.

Packaging Design was another strong field this year with Graphic Partners’ Babe and Dude being jointly awarded with Randak for Dalwhinnie/Oban. Edinburgh Crystal by The Foundry and Teviot’s work for Temple Spa were commended.

Exhibition Design was debated long and hard and eventually, NORD won the accolade for Glasgow Institute of Architects’ exhibition, with Graven Images picking up a commendation for British Trade International.

CD ROM and Product Design were both absent in awards; still, commendations were given to 55degrees for their Strathclyde Police/Scotland Against Drugs CD ROM and both Happell (3D Tile Range) and The Foundry (Scottish Courage) in the product design category.

This was the case also in the Best Use of Illustration section with Whitespace and Mary Hutchison both being commended for work for Henzteeth and the Sunday Herald respectively.

Best Use of Photography was awarded to Reiach and Hall Architects, with Michael Wolchover, for their self-promotional work. newton.eh6 was commended for its Scottish Arts Council photography. Graphical House won the award for Digital Animation for Nobles Gate production for Channel 4 ahead of 55degrees’ work for the National Trust for Scotland.

Grand Prix Award for Design

The aim was to create a site for the fans of Rockstar North and help build the brand online. The content was to summarise the production of a game, for example; showing the beginning of a character from the loose sketches to fully rendered in game character, whilst also offering the fan some exclusive Rockstar North downloadable treats, like desktop wallpapers, screensavers, audio clips, etc.

We tried to create a mixed-up composed world that reflected the fusion of all the parts that go into making a game along with a navigation system that mirrored the feel of exploration that is found in games of Rockstar North.

A graphical representation of a world gone haywire that you explore via a walking figure, transporting between scenes that consist of graphical and architectonic elements melted together, that collapse and rebuild whilst learning something about the different stages that go into the production of games.

The site receives thousands of unique visits every day from dedicated fans worldwide and is listed on every fan-based website. The site has won online awards and has been registered in the web design collection of The Museum of Applied Arts Frankfurt.

Chairman’s Award for Design

Following a comprehensive research programme investigating their target audiences, The Waverley Group identified a need for a brand which catered for a female, 18-25 year old professional market. The 'Chardonnay Girl' enjoys big nights out, good times and socialising with friends.

Graphic Partners developed a brand identity followed by packaging, POS and supporting communication material. The packaging for Babe needed to be confident, striking and fun.

A modern approach to typographic treatment and iconic illustration gives the bottle a contemporary feel, with the strong use of bright pink adding impact, interest and confidence. The bottle itself is totally clad in pink, with the branding using foil, also adding quality and interest. The whole package resulted in excellent shelf standout for the off-trade, and a strong statement for the on-trade.

The partner brand Dude follows the same rules with masculine values, with the use of matt black giving a stark contrast to the shocking pink of Babe.

Grand Prix Award for Architecture

In 1998, Gordon Murray + Alan Dunlop won a limited competition to design a five-star hotel on Argyle Street, at a time when Glasgow’s conference centre market was growing rapidly but there was a shortage of top quality hotels.

The intention was to create a memorable new building and push at the boundaries of corporate hotel design.

Although run-down to the west of the Heilanman’s umbrella, Argyle Street is still one of the city’s oldest thoroughfares and the proposal for a lightweight screen allowed some flexibility to exploit a shift in the strict city grid. The 20-metre height continues the established median height of the mile-long street, and copper was chosen as a finishing material because of its traditional links with the city’s built fabric. The much higher accommodation block of 250 bedrooms, 600-seat function room and business suites could then comfortably sit behind.

The hotel’s public spaces, including bars, restaurants and reception, were set out between and within a five-storey high, naturally lit “internal street”.

The hotel was designed on a scale to suggest the hull of the ships that once sailed from the nearby Broomielaw.

On Argyle Street, at night in particular, the glass separating inside from out almost disappears and residents get the impression that they are sitting at a street-side cafe. Round the corners and at the base of the hotel there are also bars and restaurants that are open to non-residents, designed to bring activity to the adjoining streets.

Chairman’s Award for Architecture

The Maggie’s Centres offer advice and palliative care to people affected by cancer. The centres eschew anything institutional and instead advocate light, bright, welcoming spaces with views out to gardens and greenery.

The new Maggie’s Centre in Glasgow is housed within a Category B-listed Victorian Gate Lodge, designed in Baronial style in 1861. Although derelict for about 20 years, the gate lodge had remained a very well known landmark on Dumbarton Road against the backdrop of Kelvingrove Park.

The brief required the building to offer a calm, friendly space, where people can spend time thinking about their treatment. The entrance was to be obvious and welcoming, not intimidating. There should be as much light as possible with views out to grass, trees and sky and it was important to look out and even step out from as many rooms as possible.

The interior spaces shouldn’t feel so open to the outside that people feel unprotected.

Think of all the aspects of hospital layout that reinforce institution – corridors, signs, secrets, confusion – and unpick them. The building should make you feel more buoyant, more optimistic, and that life is more interesting, having spent time in the building.

As a result of the brief, a new extension was added, interlocking with the older part of the building. The interior of the central tower, which originally contained a narrow winding stair, was opened up and relined with a roof light at the top to funnel light down into the heart of the building.

Although the original rooflines have been retained, the volume of the building has been maximised by the use of new steel portal frames. Previously dark and compartmentalised, light now enters the building from a multitude of directions and the spaces are capable of being opened or closed over with sliding or folding doors, while the relaxation and counselling rooms lead out to enclosed gardens with views over the Kelvin Valley, Art Gallery and University.

Designer of the Year - Helen Johnston

Born in Dublin and a graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Johnston’s first job was with Pure Design, where she worked for two-and-a-half years.

Utilising a travel scholarship, she travelled the world, which included a six-month period in Auckland working with one of New Zealand’s most respected designers.

On her return, Helen worked with navyblue for a short period before joining EH6 in July 1998. Following their transformation into newton.eh6, Helen continued producing work that included corporate literature for Agilent Technologies and Noble Group, award-winning annual reports for the Scottish Arts Council and the Crown Office as well as corporate branding for Dunedin Capital Partners and packaging for Paterson Arran.

At the 2002 Scottish Design Awards her posters for Careers Scotland won two awards, including the coveted Grand Prix prize, and this success was repeated at the Roses, by winning the Best Promotional Item category.

This year, as well as being crowned Designer of the Year, Helen’s annual report for the Crown Office was once again awarded top prize and she even had time to guide the final year students at Duncan of Jordanstone through their D&AD assignment, three of whom have been nominated.

Young Designer of the Year - Sarah Cassells

Sarah Cassells (23) graduated from Glasgow School of Art with a First Class Honours degree in Visual Communication.

As a student, she won an RSA award for interactive design and one of her college projects “How close do you get” features in a recent book on innovative design and communication (Problem solved, by Michael Johnson).

After three months gaining experience at leading London agency Johnson Banks, Sarah joined Redpath as designer in August 2001.

Her projects to date have included: “Moving With The Times” for the British Council (which won three literature awards in 2002); promotional material for fireworks company Bang-on!; collateral for the 2002 Marketing Society Conference; guidelines for the new NHS Scotland identity (part of a project which won the DBA Design Effectiveness Award 2002); the Scottish Executive’s openscotland and Healthy Living initiatives; and brochures for the Royal Bank of Scotland, Blackwell’s, James Thin Booksellers and a number of others.

In May 2003, she was awarded Young Designer of the Year at the Scottish Design Awards.


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