Editorial: Challenging times ahead for new D&AD president

D&AD appears not to be enjoying a contented middle age. Without a full-time leader for more than a year, embarrassed by the shambolic catering arrangements at its last awards night, the organisation betrays significant signs of having lost its spark. Indeed, challenging barely begins to describe the task confronting Garrick Hamm, the newly installed D&AD president.

So just where has the mojo gone at D&AD which, this week at the London Design Festival, showcases 45 years of the best work as selected by its judges since 1963?

It's hard to know for sure. Perhaps it has something to do with the management vacuum created by the resignation of the chief executive, Michael Hockney, in March last year amid rumours of a power struggle among senior executives.Perhaps it's because, as some claim, the D&AD structure is lumbering and old-fashioned. Certainly it has frustrated several past presidents wanting to implement reforms only to give up in despair. "The last thing I wanted to achieve was fuck-all," one ex-president was recently quoted as saying. "But that's what ended up happening."

If that's the case, then it's easy to see why disenchantment about D&AD may be setting in among the leading creatives traditionally supportive of it. Some onlookers see evidence of this in what they claim is a less-than-stellar list of nominees for the D&AD executive elections.

Perhaps it's because, in chasing the money, D&AD is trying to be all things to all people rather than maintaining the integrity of its awards and nurturing young talent. With so many Pencils up for grabs, there's a danger of the coinage being debased. And there's a question mark over the wisdom of seeking so many submissions from beyond the UK; the awards may become less appealing to British creatives.

D&AD staged a remarkable recovery from those dark days of the early 90s when it was mired by corruption and financial problems. How tragic it would be if, having been pulled back from the cliff edge by those who cared passionately about it, indifference was to push it over.

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