Best Awards 2014 finalists announced

The Best Awards finalists have been announced, with a bevy of great design from New Zealand and Australasia. The annual awards are organised by Designers Institute of New Zealand and names the very best in graphic, spatial, product and interactive design, awarding a coveted purple pin to the winner of each category. This year there was a strong involvement in getting Australian designers to enter, wanting to put a spotlight on Australasian design, and CEO of Designers Institute of New Zealand Cathy Veninga says standards have remained high. 

A scope of the finalists shows our design landscape is in very good hands. In the product category, making your lifestyle that much more stylish and comfortable was a common thread in many of the entries, from a comfy-looking head rest for economy class air travellers (sign me up!) to lightshades in every geometrical shape and size. Over in the interactive design shortlist: ever been caught in a downpour and wished someone would share an umbrella? Yep, there’s an app – and device – for that. Hospitality and retail environments once again lead the spatial nominations, as well as some jazzed up work spaces, and the graphic design section is a fountain of beautiful fonts, art direction and layout.

Winners will be announced Friday October 10 in Auckland at what will be, described by the organisers themselves, “one hell of a party”.

Here are just a few of the finalists’ works from each category, with a complete list here


Visual Communication finalists include Colenso BBDO’s Mountain Dew Hidden Graphics, skateboards that reveal a message: the grinding of the board wears away the top coat.

Up for a Graphic Design Arts award is McCarthy who colourfully designed Neat Places, an independent guide to Christchurch’s best restaurants, cafes, bars, shops and galleries.

DDMMYY is a finalist in Packaging, with the Stolen Rum range, as is Tardis Design, for the surreal packaging of the sparkling wine Joiy. For Stolen Rum, DDMMYY’s Kelvin Soh told Design Assembly that “The concept and logic for their brand identity is to use forms of communication that relate to quick mark-making eg. stencil typography, hand lettering and typewriter. The thought being that if you’re trying to steal something, you’d want to get away pretty quickly.”

Alt Group is a finalist in Visual Communication with its posters for New Zealand Opera La Traviata – Verdi’s heartfelt tale of a beautiful but fragile courtesan forced to give up the man of her dreams.

Sanders Design is a finalist in Environmental Graphics category, for the ASB North Wharf building. According to ASB’s blog, “ASB North Wharf has been designed to harness the cooling power of the sea breeze off the Waitemata Harbour as well as the lighting of the sun to create a well lit and ventilated space for our people to work. Cleverly designed sun shades on the windows will decrease the amount of direct sunlight pouring in to the building making it hot.”

Creature is a finalist in the Self Promotion category with the Christmas Lifesaver Pinata for its clients – “A hand crafted gift packed piñata was designed, manufactured then hand delivered to our treasured clients”.

Ryan Romanes Design in the Small Brand Identity Category with CreationFest. According to the agency’s website,  “CreationFest is an annual design competition featuring sections of film, wearable and performance creations; all with an emphasis on dynamic innovation. The festival’s main objective is to encourage youth creativity amongst the local community by providing ongoing workshops and mentorship by leading designers, film makers and performers. As a re-branding project of an existing event, the new coordinators wanted fresh imagery that represented innovation, a blank canvas and an obvious redirection of the previous brand visuals.”

Studio Alexander’s design for a poster for the Basement Theatre play ‘Motherf**ker with the Hat’ made the Visual Communication category. The client wanted to “put up A0 posters all over Auckland featuring the poetic profanities of this beautiful play’s title”.

The play’s synopsis is “recovering addict Jackie leads us on a high-octane, poetically profane quest for self-transformation and misplaced haberdashery. Set in the melting pot of NYC, this raw, urban comedy explores the trials of loving people despite their screw ups, while delivering a swift kick in the karmic cojones.”


More than just looking at simple aesthetics, in this section the judges will assess the complete user experience including look and feel, context, brand alignment, and ease of use.

Alphero made the Applications category with the Cash Critter app for Westpac. Cash Critter is a fun, family-friendly interactive app that teaches kids about setting goals and saving money.

Inject Design is a finalist in the Interactive Marketing category with Hell Pizza Zombies from Hell, making pizza boxes the passage to an augmented reality world full of zombies.

TVNZ Blacksand made the Time Based Graphics category for its re-brand of TV2 – featuring many exploding number twos.


Wishbone Design Studio made the Consumer category with the Wishbone Bike Recycled Edition, a new version made from recycled plastic. It’s made of pre-loved, residential carpet, collected from home-owners in the United States, shaved to remove the backing, and shredded. A recycler adds glass fibre for strength and turns it into millions of little resin pellets, ready for molding into a bike frame.

There’s a cardboard box desk by Refold (two Massey design graduates Oliver Ward and Fraser Callaway), which made the Sustainable Product Design category.


Bricks and mortar is still very important to the consumer, as is evidenced by some sweet spacial design finalists this year.

Cheshire Architects brought us Mexico in Ellerslie, which is a finalist in the Colour Award category. An article in Stuff said “Architect Nat Cheshire and artist Brendan Ryan found authenticity in the worn and weathered. The dark red and exposed brick walls are covered in Frida Kahlo portraits, hand-painted murals and Mexican curios. The tables are tightly packed and there is an ordered chaos. You feel like you could be sitting in a smokey Mexican pub.”

RCG is in the Retail category with its redesign of Ziera Shoes

Also in the Retail category is Designworks, with the Kiwibank in Takapuna. The new retail experience was designed around the concept of ‘comfortable conversations’.

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