There's no denying that we as a nation love black. The announcement of the finalists of this year's Best Design Awards revealed a familiar thread – Kiwi graphic designers who work magic with the beloved hue.

"New Zealand owns black like no one else in the world," says Andrew Ashton, creative director at Melbourne's Work Art Life studio.

Ashton visited our shores last week as a panel judge for the graphic discipline in this year's Best Design Awards, and it's a sentiment he repeated during Idealog's conversation with him. Looking at some of the work of this year's finalists, we have to agree. Their use of black is, simply, brilliant.

Ashton, who holds membership with both the Australian Graphic Design Association and Alliance Graphique Internationale, also told us that he's "floored by the depth and quality of work" he saw while judging.

“There is a truly integrated forced behind the industry here. New Zealand is going to be the next Scandinavia in this part of the world.

"[This country] is leading by creativity.”

And he was left impressed by the high level of student entries.

“The student work was extraordinary. The level of inquiry and craft, the diversity of projects, the creativity... that only comes from a strong education foundation."

Flick through our slideshow above to see some of the striking finalist designs in the graphic discipline – they prove black is anything but boring when it's in the hands of great designers.

The Best Awards celebrates the best in New Zealand design. See all the 2015 Graphic finalists at  bestawards.co.nz