Best of Show Award 2016
Honor Award 2016
A remarkable exhibition at the Art Academy of Latvia won SEGD's 2016 Global Design Awards Best of Show for its exploration of diverse facets of graphic design. A broad team from the Latvian firm Design Studio H2E, led by Creative Director Holgers Elers and Designer Inguna Elere, created INFORMATION, an exhibition that focused on the products, services and processes of graphic design in Latvia. It was an experience that encouraged communication and interaction among visitors and the space, graphic designers and the information itself.
"This award is a spectacular professional acknowledgement for us—designers from a small country— that our pursuits and experiments in design are moving in the right direction and are appreciated," said Inguna Elere. "It is also an acknowledgment of the overall design potential of Latvia, where at this moment we are seeing especially binding design processes and creative quests." Learning that H2E had won this year's Best of Show Award was, she said, "an enormous surprise and a truly joyful moment! It really is a huge honor to be among the best of the best in this professional sphere."
Elere said the team at Design Studio H2E has been watching and analyzing SEGD's awarded projects over several years, paying special attention to jury comments. They see reviewing each jury's opinions as a professional pleasure and learning experience. It is also a research task that Elere, a lecturer on the Art Academy of Lavtia Design faculty, assigns her students.
The jury was impressed with INFORMATION's simplicity and clarity—exactly what graphic design is about. The exhibition showed how the role of information in modern society is constantly evolving. INFORMATION demonstrated 12 different applications of information design in Latvia, including packaging, visual identity, book design, data visualization, interactive and digital tools. The exhibit included 66 works by Latvian designers—all very different, but united by a passion for graphic design.
Design Studio H2E's primary objective for the exhibit was to invite people to explore the diversity of information design in Latvia and raise awareness about information design as a component of virtually every profession. From concept to implementation, the exhibition stayed deftly true to its educational and experiential goals.
The team’s key challenge was how to make the exhibition comprehensible for people who are not directly involved in the field of information design. Inspired by the process and basic principles of graphic design, they realized design work often starts with a white A4-size sheet of paper. Using this basic building block, they multiplied it 45 times, positioned the exhibition surfaces on a grid and arranged the objects on them. Black-on-white text was chosen as the purest way to present the information, emphasizing the colorfulness of the exhibition content.
Graphic design is interactive, and the team from Design Studio H2E integrated this interaction in the exhibition with mirrored tables that reflected each other and the movement of people through the exhibit, emphasizing the role of the audience in information design.
They presented the design works three ways: texts and images as printouts, actual objects and screen displays with videos. Each table revealed its theme via speech bubbles hung above it. The bubbles were communication’s intermediaries and initiators—every bubble contained a specific question that had been asked of the authors of the works exhibited. Their answers were presented on the surfaces next to their work, creating an almost personal connection between visitor and designer. The jury was impressed that stripping the presentation down to black and white removed any interference or distraction from the work. Every component was carefully thought through, from the form of the thought-bubble labels to the use of the space and the mirrored tables as reminders that people are the essential element of the work.
The almost-levitating surfaces filled with graphic design formed one part of the exhibition. Then, a reading zone provided insight into printed media and focused on the various aspects of design in Latvia’s economic and cultural space in this century. The reading zone helped focus visitors' attention on a second, more contemplative level. Finally, to further enhance people’s understanding of the creation and use of information design, graphic designers spoke to audiences in the space, sharing their views on graphic design.
"It would be easy to see this as just beautiful layout or typography only," said jury chairman Stephen Minning Of BrandCulture, Sydney, "but the depth with which this exhibition explores and layers the elements of design in Latvia viscerally enunciates how information design enables our access and ability to address the world around us. Every move is intentional, and most importantly it acknowledges that the audience is what matters. Human interaction/movement adds yet another interpretative layer to the narrative."
"The jury comments regarding any SEGD project are of high value to us," said Elere, "but we are especially pleased with the jury comment on intention because creating INFORMATION by involving the design community and visitors in the exhibition was one of our goals." Public response to the exhibition was so positive that the museum extended the exhibition two weeks longer than planned.
Design Studio H2E, one of the most influential design companies in Latvia, was involved in all stages of the project, from planning, project management and concept development to design and realization.
Design Studio H2E was established in 2007 by Inguna Elere and Holgers Elers and it has become one of the most influential design firms in Latvia. Holger Elers is Professor at the Functional Design Department of the Art Academy of Latvia and Inguna Elere is Associate Professor at the Environmental Art Department of the Art Academy of Latvia. Their studio's work has been recognized with other awards, including a 2014 SEGD Global Design Merit Award for The Ventspils Museum permanent exhibition located in the 13th century Castle of the Livonian Order of Knights, one of the oldest castles in Latvia.
Design Firm: Design Studio H2E
Client: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia
Project Area: 285m2
Open Date: March 2015
Project Budget: € 22,000
Design Team: Holgers Elers (curator, design concept, lead technical designer); Inguna Elere (curator, design concept, lead graphic designer); Barbara Abele, Dita Danosa (curators); Madara Jansone (project assistant and coordinator); Dagnija Balode (project assistant, financial); Laura Lorence, Anete Liepa (graphic designers); Girts Arajs (3D designer, A/V technologies, lighting) Consultants: Girts Arajs (digital content integrator)
Fabricator: MD Noass (primary fabricator), Design Studio H2E (installation, mounting), Magnum NT (print work)