Not at all funny


It’s the time of the year when emails fly around town (and the world). Messages of congratulation and condolence, notes of disbelief and high drama. Because this has been D&AD’s judging week, and as ever the results make for perplexing reading.
But, stop there.

This isn’t an overview of what got in and what didn’t. This isn’t an examination of how one jury managed to get from 21 long-listed pieces to, er, five (you can read that here). This isn’t a piece wondering and asking how we all eventually end up with projects in our portfolio that never quite make the cut, for a multitude of reasons too complex to list. Nope. None of that.
This is just a simple piece to flag that one of my favourite design projects of the decade (perhaps even the millennium) this week didn’t make it into ‘the annual’ (in theory the definitive survey of the world’s best design and advertising of each particular year).


Now, you may think that a 2,200 square metre typographic ‘carpet’ devoted to comedian’s quotes is not your cup of tea. You might not be impressed at how they embedded 160,000 granite letters into concrete. You may not give two hoots that a North England council was somehow persuaded to go for this extraordinary idea (and may in fact think that all northern councils are in fact a push over, once they have been bought enough pints of mild at the hotel bar). Fair enough.


But, seriously, I think that for hand picked jury of graphic designers from all over the world to give out 21 nominations, award at least of them three yellow pencils yet look at The Comedy Carpet and NOT conclude that this is genius is, well, astonishing.


There. I’ve said it. It has happened before – another jury in recent years decided that The Gherkin, as a building was worthy of being in the book, but nothing further. Imagine the conversation – ‘yes, it’s OK but not just iconic enough for me’.
It will happen again.
As regards the carpet, Patrick Burgoyne, editor of Creative Review this evening admitted that ‘it is a shame that what, for me, was one of the outstanding projects of last year, will not be recognised at all by D&AD’. Indeed. If I’d sat at the awards this evening (as I did) and watched Rosie Arnold give it multiple Yellow Pencils it wouldn’t have surprised me – in fact I’d then be tipping it for Gold.
For a certain, sceptical generation of designer, this will be further proof of the scheme’s fallibility. Some of us will wonder why Why Not Associates didn’t ‘cover themselves’ by entering into various categories – others will counter that needing to assume a jury will ignore your work 2 times out of 3 is indeed a truly cynical move. But I can’t help feeling justice wasn’t done here.
By Michael Johnson

For more information on the shortlisted projects and winners, go here. For more information on The Comedy Carpet go here. For complete transparency, johnson banks entered four projects into this year’s D&AD, of which one, Arkitypo, got into the annual.

Follow johnson banks on Twitter @johnsonbanks