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Best Awards: 310 make the final cut

A guitar with a spiderweb body, uber cool compost packaging, a tiny cinema in a stairwell – it's all par for the course, at least at the Best Design Awards. There are 310 standout finalists in this year’s Best Awards, recognising the country’s best graphic, interactive, spatial and product designs of the last 12 months (see gallery below for a smattering of finalists).

Not surprisingly, Fisher & Paykel's Social Kitchen, which already has a bunch of international awards to its name, is up in four categories, while Alt Group's rebrand of the Auckland Art Gallery made it into six.

Designers Institute CEO Cathy Veninga says the graphics discipline was one of the strongest ever, while Peter Roband, convenor of the graphics judging panel said some graphics categories had “really run away".

Roband said that in the graphics packaging section, entries such as Living Earth compost and garden products (by design studio Fracture) “bent out of shape what we think of organic products. Who said organic has to be slavishly dull? These entries were vital, colourful and quirky".

Other graphic finalists? Kathmandu's new monochromatic look; the new man brand in skincare, Triumph & Disaster; and a very merry berry brand, OOB. Judge Paul van Barneveld, president of the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA), also singled out the "refreshing" Air New Zealand black plane (Designworks Auckland). 

Living Earth organic compost The Cloud Gravity Coffee Glassons Queen St Kiwibank and NZ Post Flashbank Olaf Diegel Design - Spider 3D printed guitar Air NZ black plane

Typography is also making a strong comeback, according to Roband.

“We all got computers in the 1990s and typography went out the window, but it is coming back. Work is becoming more artistic again, and people care about typography and hand drawn illustrations.

“There was a trend towards craft, purity and simplicity, especially in some categories such as the small identity category which had beautifully thought through and executed entries.”

Attention grabbing finalists in the product discipline were B Brush, a toothbrush in a sleek lipstick style case for people on the go; Box Living, a prefabricated building system inspired by the modernist post-war architectural movement; and a stylish urban beehive and humane rat and stoat trap previously featured in Idealog.

New buildings and landscape designs in Auckland’s Viaduct, Imperial Lane and Wynyard Quarter feature strongly in the spatial discipline, as does a refit for the Carter Observatory in Wellington, MOTAT Museum in Auckland’s dramatic new aviation hall, and Auckland's St Thomas’ Chapel in St Matthew-in-the-City Church by Salmond Reed Architects, which claimed the top honour at theInterior Awards in June. We also liked Dorrington Architects & Associates and Veneer Ltd's 'shoebox' store for shoe designer Kathryn Wilson. Plus

Another category that wowed was retail design, with Ruby in Newmarket, Glassons in Queen Street, and Platinum in Victoria Park Market among the stand out finalists.

In the interactive section, now a separate discipline, TV3’s No Place I’d Rather be graphics is a finalist, as is Telecom’s digital wall at Auckland Airport and the recent V Motion Project, Orcon Spider Art project displayed at Semi-Permanent

The winners of the 2012 Best Design Awards will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland on Friday, October 5.

To check out the list of potential winners visit bestawards.co.nz.