New York, NY – If you have been following the progress of the online competition, sponsored by Design 21 Social Design Network to find a logo for the Stories from the Field film festival, you no doubt know that we were expecting to declare a winner on December 11, 2007. We regret that no such winner can be declared.
We know there will be confusion and disappointment about this outcome, which was announced last night by Design 21, and we want everyone – our community and the hundreds of designers who participated in the competition – to know what happened, and to understand why, although we made a final choice, we cannot declare a winner.
By the competition deadline of November 27 – an extended deadline of 24 hours, by the way, because the Design 21 servers had been overwhelmed by the rush of entries on November 26 – over 1,600 designs had been submitted, the largest showing ever for any Design 21 competition. They and we were ecstatic.
On November 28, the Design 21 panel began to screen for a field of finalists, which they would hand off to the festival judges to choose a winner. They and we had agreed not to be limited by a number; however many designs proved worthy of consideration was the number we would review.
While the Design 21 team did their work, the producers of the festival looked through all 1,600 plus designs – several times, in fact – becoming familiar with many and truly impressed with several. We had no doubt those several would end up on the Design 21 list; they were too good not to.
As marketing and visual communications professionals ourselves, as well as business owners, we know that a logo must be more than a pretty face. It must be as legible on an envelope as on a billboard, not lose meaning in black and white, not infringe on another organization’s copyright (or seem to), be applicable across all media, as well as meet other criteria both practical and aesthetic.
When we received the Design 21 finalists, we were dismayed to find that only two of our thirteen contenders had made the list, but that many who did not meet the aforementioned criteria had. We asked the Design 21 jury to consider expanding the field with our choices, and we explained why.
While they considered our request, we kept our appointment to judge the finalists – and we included our thirteen among them. It was a daylong process. We carefully considered every finalist, discussed the relative merits of each, and in the end, unanimously chose one – a Design 21 contestant that had not made the list of finalists.
Now what? We hoped the Design 21 jury would agree with us that excellence trumps ceremony, and the best design should win. As judges ourselves, albeit of film, we know that judging is not easy – and certainly not a perfect science. Sometimes winners get overlooked.
The Design 21 judges felt, as they have stated, that to admit our choices would have been to change the rules, which they could not do midstream. We would have to pick from among their choices or forfeit the declaration of a winner.
We accepted their decision, but decided to stay true to what we believe is the best design for our festival.
The design we chose personifies what Stories from the Field is about, and does so in a way that is both instantly recognizable and totally fresh. It is bold, eloquent, transcultural, and refreshingly simple. On the practical level, it can be applied across all media, in any size or color, and in several interesting configurations. The more we looked at it, the more we loved it.
Some have chosen to interpret our actions as breaking the rules, disrespecting the judges, or not playing fair. We see it as being responsible. We have an important international event to run, one that we conceived and built from scratch. We care about it deeply and want the best for it.
We don’t even know if the designer we chose will be interested in working with us, considering that there will be no prize money or recognition from Design 21. But we hope so.