Sunday, July 15, 2007

At the One Show: A fly-on-the-wall account

If the attendance was anything to go by, the first One Show Design ceremony was an unqualified success. The chic Chelsea Art Gallery it was held in was packed to the rafters and I'm guessing it had nothing to do with the South-American artist (who made flower and insect shapes from slashed-up Puma sneakers) who shared the gallery space. Apple Computers sent three of their Prada-suited best from Cupertino to collect their awards for the iPod Nano and iShuffle designs. The Ames Brothers from Seattle, the guys behind the much talked about posters for Pearl Jam were there. So were Santa Monica’s Blind agency who were responsible for the Gnarls Barkley ‘Crazy’ music video. Add several radiant winners from Germany, Japan, Croatia and one prodigiously talented duo from Y&R Singapore and you pretty much get the idea.

Armed with the task of covering the ceremony for Marketing magazine, I decided to report to the Press section instead of the Delegates section, announcing importantly that I was covering the event ‘for Asia’. I also mispronounced Marketing as Newsweek so maybe that explains all the fawning, ingratiating smiles from that Duffy guy.

That Duffy guy, by the way, was Joe Duffy. The Joe Duffy. Duffy is to designers what Neil Young is to grunge artists. The jury this year was hand-picked by him I suspect, seeing as how they were all ex-employees of Duffy & Partners. The jury was a good mix of old-Helvetica-worshipping-fogies and uber-hip young upstarts.

As anybody who’s been to one of these will tell you, getting a drink in the first hour of the ceremony is an accomplishment of sorts. Famous reporters who cover events for whole continents don’t seem to have that problem. They get their drinks brought to them.

They had our entry on display at the first corner and I spent many rapturous moments silently recording the swooning visitors. Ok I made that up. Nobody swooned or anything. But I blame that on the distracting blonde waitresses carrying sushi-laden salvers.

Walking past the exhibits you clearly feel the unmistakeable One Show flavour to the work selected. Unlike Graphis and other pure design awards, you’ll notice that the One Show will only entertain those pieces rooted in clever ideas rather than mere clever technique.

They’ll doff their hats at anything which is a) an intelligent idea, and b) hasn’t been done before. Although it may be pointed out that there have been occasions in the past where some absolute turds have slipped past, it is the exception rather than the rule.

By and large, I found the entries that won Pencils were those which displayed wit, irony or simply blindingly clever visual plays. My personal favourites were the Pearl Jam World Tour posters, the Gnarls Barkley music video and a pair of idents for MTV. A mention must be made of this outstanding environmental design idea from Germany where they created an accurate miniature model of a football field complete with turf and goalposts in a parking lot. The message urged people to petition the Mayor of the city to build more spaces for children to play in.

It goes without saying that the Malaysia Dairy Industries poster was a work of rare genius.
Nirmal Pulickal and Andrew Phua with the Bronze award they won for their 'Udder' print work, for client Malaysian Dairy Industries.

I’m afraid I still haven’t found a suitable opportunity to bludgeon you with the reams of information the One Club provided in their Press Kit. I’ll skip the boring parts (something about 20% more entries…blah…blah…) and just say that from this year onwards the One Show Annual will come as a set of three books – Advertising, Design and Interactive. The books, individually will be lighter than the hernia monsters of the past.

That brings to an end my report. Sadly, I didn’t get drunk enough to ask the One Club president what the deal was with the pukey flames-and-hell illustration on one of the recent One Show covers. I had that on my agenda but in the end decided to play it nice.

Nirmal Pulickal, reporting from New York City, Friday, 13 July 2007.

Pulickal is a senior creative with Y&R Singapore, who, along with his partner Andrew Phua, created the ‘Udder’ poster for Malaysia Dairy Industries that won a Bronze Pencil at the One Show Design.

No comments: