There was a time, not long ago, when all student awards were about
as coveted as Sunday School attendance certificates. Then the
advertising and design businesses finally woke up to the fact that it
could get five ’juniors’ for the price of one ’heavyweight’ and the work
they produced would be fresher - and there’d be ten times as much of
Advertising and design talk a lot of art but when it comes down to the
bottom line (balance sheet) it’s commerce that counts. So, I wasn’t
surprised to learn the creators of the excellent Website from Middlesex
University’s Centre for Electronic Arts, which won the D&AD Students
awards, have already been approached by two design companies. Richard
Mellor, who won this year’s D&AD silver for Interactive Design, called
the site ’indistinguishable from the work of a seasoned
Similarly, probably the most exciting pieces in the whole show, and
twice as remarkable because they were in the point-of-sale category,
were those of Stephen Royle of the University of Central Lancashire.
Bright and brash in pop-art columns and extruded plastic moulds, Royle’s
work captures the quirky artiness of Paul Smith’s shops.
Paul Smith and his chief designer, Aboud Sodano, thought so too. So
Royle’s work is now part of a travelling Paul Smith exhibit touring
Japan, which helped persuade us to name Stephen Royle our Student of the
In the final judging, the nearest work past the finishing post to this
point-of- sale work was from another unglamorous category, radio. I’d
put this campaign up with some of the best I’ve heard in the last couple
of years. You’ll be hearing the spots for Staropramen beer on Capital
Radio, because part of Capital’s sponsorship is free airtime.
That’s another sign of how seriously these awards are being taken.
Theo’s Kebab takeaway-type sponsorship has given place to rather better
known names such as Sony, BT and the Design Council.
Media is the boom business of the future. Media Studies is now the most
over-subscribed degree course at UK universities. More than a hundred
different colleges participated in this year’s D&AD Student Awards.
When I was president of the Creative Circle, I made youth a priority by
cutting off the jury age at 35. As president of D&AD, I feel we can put
students even more in the engine room of change. I hope visitors to
D&AD’s Student Expo will agree that the engine’s been jump-started.