The Pentawards (packaging only) Ceremony was held in NYC this year and so last night Morgan and I were able to pop down the road to pick up our gold shiny bottle award thingy and share a stage with the big grownup firms like Turner Duckworth and Design Bridge while pretending that we too employed hundreds of people and had issues with our H.R department. Anyway, we didn’t disgrace ourselves – I didn’t swoon at Mary Lewis and Morgan stayed sober – and we were quite surprised by a number of things:
1. Hundreds of firms from 20 different countries had flown in from as far afield as 23 hours away and the overall standard was pretty strong.
2. The crowd looked like an Abba tribute band audition. Scandinavian design won best of show for a quite stunning PET sparkling water but the Norwegian wine bag in box designs were also really striking, put all the UK supermarket shelves to shame, and natural blondes with huge smiles were everywhere.
3. Witty Asian design. We bump into Suntory at every gong dinner but there were also so many cool looking Chinese designers there that they will definitely need a few more translators next year. These guys had flown in without knowing one word of English and when their work flashed onto screen they’d tentatively stand up and utter, I presume, the Cantonese for ‘Who? Me?’ and only realize it was ‘Yes! You!’, when they heard the rapturous applause.
4. Private label was big. This says something but I dare not even speak its name.
5. The French were great at perfume and the Japanese nailed the cosmetics, no surprise there, but British international design firms killed it across the food and drink sector. I realized why the guy from Design Bridge walked up so slowly for his gongs. He had to pace himself.
There’s no doubt the rest of the world is getting more creative, taking more chances and being less derivative and I was really inspired to push even harder. Highlight of my night, though, was meeting creative directors from as far afield as Latvia – Juris Dzenis from wemakebottles is a real character and much better than Carlos – and Argentina, especially the amazing Maria Cecilia from Estudio Iuvaro. She heads up an all girl team producing the most beautiful wine bottles in Mendoza and she told me that Stranger had played a part in inspiring them too. Saludos, Maria Cecilia.