The 2005 Sign Design Awards

sign-design-society-awards-2005 1
The 2005 Sign Design Awards attracted entries from all over the world. No less than sixteen countries from three continents were represented by corporate and personal entries. They included: Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Eire, El Salvador, England, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, Scotland, Spain, United States and Wales.

The Awards were given in four categories: Grand Prix (best overall winner), Signs and Systems Award, Wayfinding Award and Student Award. The winners received their trophies, which had been specially designed and made by Wood & Wood Design, at a prestigious ceremony at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) on 12 October, attended by leading figures in the Society and their guests. The Award ceremony took place in the Durham Street Auditorium and was followed by drinks and canapes in the vaults.

In his introduction Barry Gray, Chairman of the Judging Panel of four judges, expressed his gratitude to the Awards sponsors and the Awards Committee and also to the SDS’s very capable Administrator who, with the assistance of Edmund Torrens, had undertaken all the hard work that had made the event feasible.

Barry Gray then conveyed something of the task of selecting the final winners. The judges were very impressed by the overall scope and quality of the entries and particularly pleased to have so many overseas entries. They were also encouraged to see so many innovative and exciting designs from students. In recognition of this, they decided to award several Commendations in the Student category.

PROJECT - City of Tournai, Belgium

Winner - EO DESIGN, Belgium

Barry Gray, Chairman of the Judges, said:

‘I am very pleased to announce that the Grand Prix Award goes to one of our overseas entries. It is awarded to EO Design for the signage for the city of Tournai entitled ‘Town Center Tour’. Although Tournai is not the most familiar of locations in Belgium, to many of us having seen this entry, it would now be memorable.

As one judge commented, ‘It makes you want to go there’. That remark sums up the collective view of this excellent project.

The use of contemporary materials and design should make a memorable impression on visitors to this historic city. Images of Tournai and the craftsmen’s corporations have been cleverly integrated into the project and the information is displayed very attractively. The finishes and materials are also of a very high order’.

The client was the City of Tournai; production and installation by Jean Vandervelde SPRL.

Alasdair Grant wrote:
“Firstly, on behalf of myself and my colleagues at EO Design in Brussels, I would like to thank the Society for recognising our work by honouring us with the Grand Prix Award. My wife and I had the immense pleasure of travelling to London to attend the Awards ceremony where we were warmly greeted by those in charge. The presentation ceremony and the evening were very pleasant and so too was the opportunity of meeting the other winners , members of the Society and the sponsors. All in EO Design thank The Sign Design Society for laying on these Awards and for all that they do for our profession.”

PROJECT - The Scottish Parliament


Barry Gray, Chairman of the Judges, said:

‘The Award in this category goes to the signing design of one of the most prestigious, and perhaps controversial buildings in the UK, The Scottish Parliament. This was a challenging task brought to a fine conclusion.

The judges were impressed with the overall quality and high design standards which relate well to these major new buildings. Clever use has been made of sizes and various types of sign appropriate to the needs of the different locations, whilst still keeping a cohesive approach. The materials were equally well chosen and the finishes were excellent’.

The clients were EMBT RMJM with access assistance from Buro Happold and signs by Wood & Wood Design.

Neil Walker wrote:
“We are really proud to receive the Award and to have recognition for the hard work, over a 3 year period, that has gone into this very special project”.

PROJECT - National Beach Safety Signs, UK


*The designs of the signs were produced in conjunction with Wendy Wilsher, Design Research Unit/Scott Brownrigg Ltd

Barry Gray, Chairman of the Judges, said:

‘The Signs and Systems Award was won by a somewhat unusual recipient for our Awards, The Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The judges were most impressed by this extremely well thought out and comprehensive approach to developing a signage system to help save lives. Too many people drown unnecessarily on our beaches every year and this project should make a big contribution to help prevent this through information and education.

The signs are clear and well presented with appropriate use of colours and good design features to ensure that they are seen and read without overpowering the beach environment’.

Steve Wills, Beach Safety Manager, RNLI, wrote:
“It was great for the RNLI to receive such an Award for the work they have spent the past few years developing. The Award will help to promote the beach safety signage standard and encourage more beach operators to adopt the signs that will ultimately save many lives around the UK’s coastline. The SDS Awards are a truly international occasion which made receiving the Award an even greater honour. The evening at the RSA was a great night which I really enjoyed”.

PROJECT - New Maya Glyphs for Archaeological Site, El Salvador

Winner - FRIDA LARIOS, El Salvador

Barry Gray, Chairman of the Judges said:

‘The winner in this category represents something new for the SDS Awards because this is the first winner from South America.

The judges loved the use of vernacular images based on original Maya glyphs and the excellent use of natural materials completely apposite to this historic site. There is also a very clever transfer of the signage images into other wayfinding items, including a beautiful guide book. The script devised was felt to be both elegant and in keeping with the surroundings. This would be a positive contribution to people’s experience when visiting the site’.

Frida Larios wrote:
“You don’t hear about El Salvador (my country of origin) very often here in the UK. A project like mine is relevant to my country’s cultural identity: thus it fills me with joy to have contributed in a very tiny, but significant way, to increasing the knowledge about our unique indigenous heritage through winning the Student Award. I hope that the government and the design community in El Salvador turn their heads towards the value of quality wayfinding design for the flourishing of our cultural sites".

Frida Larios
Central St Martins College, now the University of the Arts, London
Nationality: Salvadoran

Student Commendations

1. GRAPHICS FOR THE BLIND, Aynur Ciftci, Germany

02 Graphicsfortheblind 1Citation
Although this entry was, in some ways, outside mainstream signing, the work was beautifully done and the images excellent. A lot of thought had gone into the design of the graphics for an audience not always catered for.

Aynur Ciftci wrote:
“I would like to thank the Sign Design Society for my Commendation. Seeing my work with all the other high quality international entries for the Sign Design Society Awards made me feel very proud and made me understand that I was receiving something very special. The choice of the location was absolutely perfect and created a welcoming and unique atmosphere. Thank you very much”.

Aynur Ciftci
MA in Communication Design Central St Martins College, now the University of the Arts, London
Nationality: German


03 Great Preslav 1Citation
The judges were particularly impressed by the quality of the content; there were many indications of original thought in the designs, eg. the symbols were very much in keeping with the heritage. If there was a criticism it was that some of the elements were a little complicated.

Venera Stoycheva wrote:
“With my project, I intended to represent the identity of the culture that was heavily influential in shaping the history of early Bulgarian society. Also my aim was to show the possibilities of improving the standards of wayfinding in Bulgaria, especially with the Bulgarian future EU membership which will bring many opportunities for development.
I am really glad that my project found such a high level of appreciation in the UK”.

Venera Stoycheva
MA in Communication Design Central St Martins College, now the University of the Arts, London
Nationality: Bulgarian


04 High Lodge Forest Centre 1Citation
The third Commendation goes to High Lodge Forest Centre, East Anglia. Although this project would benefit from further development which would have made it an even stronger candidate for the Award, the judges were very impressed by this entry. The innovative ideas behind the designs and the wholly appropriate use of materials for the environment in which the signs would be displayed made this entry stand out’.

Christian Bird wrote:
“I thought it was great seeing my design, which could be perceived as quite a simple solution, being awarded with the same enthusiasm as other designs which worked with very complex systems. I also feel especially proud to be the only British student to win an award”.

Christian Bird
BA (Hons) Graphic Design Norwich School of Art & Design
Nationality: British

4. IMPROVISATION IN DESIGN, Saira Hussain Nationality: German

sign-design-society-awards-2005 7(Saira Hussain could not attend the ceremony)

This entry from the Academy of Art & Design, Offenbach, Germany, was for three innovative and very cheap forms of temporary signing. The image shows one in styrofoam.

“I am very pleased that the judges decided to give me a Commendation for my project. I thought that it would be a bit too experimental for this kind of competition. I really appreciate the judges’ decision which shows me that some people really understood what I wanted to emphasize (even though I wrote it in my bad English) and this is a great confirmation to my work”.

Saira Hussain
Diploma project ‘Improvisation in Design/ navigation systems for temporary purposes’.
Academy of Art & Design Offenbach am Main, Germany
Nationality: German

5. GREAT GARDEN OF DRESDEN, Katrin Burghardt Nationality: German

sign-design-society-awards-2005 8(Katrin Burghardt could not attend the ceremony)

This entry from the University of Applied Sciences, Dessau, Germany was for a fully inclusive wayfinding system for the Great Garden of Dresden, a former summer residence. The image shows one of the elements.

“The fact that my graphic style is recognised in an international contest makes me feel proud and makes my job more satisfying. I am in touch with the manager of the Great Garden in Dresden and hopefully my project will be realised sometime. Finally I thank The Sign Design Society for making the Award possible. It is always interesting to know where one stands in an international competition with worldwide participants".

Katrin Burghardt
Final year dissertation project University of Applied Sciences, Dessau, Germany
Nationality: German

Judges, Sponsors and Supporters

The four Award judges

Barry Gray
Barry Gray is Chairman of The Sign Design Society. After nearly 40 years in the rail industry, he retired last year from his post as Signing and Design Manager for Network Rail and now acts as a consultant. An active participant in standardisation, Barry chairs committees at both BSi and ISO on public information symbols and is convenor of several working groups.

Chris Ludlow
Chris Ludlow has been involved in sign design for over 25 years, having been responsible for the present London Underground and BAA airport signs as well as working for clients such as Bluewater, the Dome, Canary Wharf and the National Gallery of Ireland. He is a founder member of the SDS and served as Chairman for 2 years.

Nicholas Pearce
Nicholas Pearce has spent 20 years in the business of sign manufacture and was Chairman of the Pearce Signs Group.

Mike Wolff
Mike Wolff is Group Wayfinding Manager for BAA plc, which operates seven airports in the UK. He has 34 years’ experience with the company and has worked in various senior management roles. In late 1996, Mike was appointed to a newly created post and has responsibility for policy on way-finding and the application of BAA’s comprehensive signing system at the airports.

June Fraser was unable to judge due to sickness.

David Quarmby sent his apologies.

The three Award sponsors

The Sign Design Society is very grateful to the following companies for their support in sponsoring each of the three entry categories.

Focal Signs and Labels
is a design led company providing innovative sign solutions to all business sectors. Architects, designers and specifiers are offered a complete design sign solution. ‘We provide a professional service, from planning, budget proposals, concept designs, architectural documents, construction, planning approval, project management, to manufacture and installation’.

Info Sign Systems
is a specialist company in wayfinding consultancy and analysis. Using strategic traffic logistics as the basis for creating directional wayfinding, the company also acts as a delivery manager for their clients using technological and static systems, to ensure that the ultimate creative solution is achieved.

Merson Signs
Merson Signs’ affinity for working with designers and architects means that they were delighted to co-sponsor the SDS Awards. As one of the UK’s largest and longest-established sign manufacturers, they frequently collaborate with design teams on signage schemes such as corporate rebrands, large scale feature signs and all types of wayfinding.


Enterprise IG Information Design
designed the literature for the Awards. They are a design agency which believes in considerate design which, together with appropriate solutions, helps people find and understand the information that they need as easily as possible.

Praxis are banner specialists and kindly supplied branding materials for the event at the Royal Society of Arts.

Wood&Wood Design
Wood&Wood Design is a creative consultancy offering wayfinding strategy, information graphics and product design. Working with clients such as Adshel, Liverpool City Council and the South Bank Centre, they are a proud supporter of The Sign Design Society with its goal of more legible and accessible environments.

SDS Chairman, Barry Gray, thanked Wood&Wood Design for providing the unusual and exciting trophies and commented: “I’m sure that all the winners will treasure their trophies, particularly because they have been designed specially for the 2005 Awards”.

Cast in metallised resin, the trophies have a dark, burnished silver finish, with the Grand Prix Award in a burnished gold finish. Don Wilson, Associate Designer at Wood&Wood Design said:” We wanted to create a tactile object that would generate some real interest. The spherical form, produced by wrapping a ribbon-like strip around itself, represents journeys, places and the global nature of information design”.

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