Regional Design Annual 2014: Midwest

The Regional Design Annual is America’s preeminent design competition. View the winners of the 2014 RDA from the Midwest below.

As a self-proclaimed die-hard Minnesotan dedicated to design, Joseph Duffy, design director at Duffy & Partners, was a natural choice to judge the work streaming out of the Midwest region this year. He says it took some time to find the high-quality work, but once he immersed himself in the competition, he was impressed enough that sorting the good from the outstanding became a welcome challenge. “It’s great to not only see so much work from all over the Midwest, but [also] really great work from our little fly-over region.” Trends in the Midwest this year ranged from an influx of aesthetically strong printed pieces to “a lot of attention to detail, like the use of varnish and embossing,” Duffy says. “Letterpress seems to be making a comeback, which is great, as it’s one of my favorite forms of printing.”

The designs that merit recognition in Duffy’s eyes are the ones that go above and beyond while keeping in mind the bigger picture. “I’m always looking for a campaign of work. A logo and a single web page is fine, but in my opinion, the best design is a full brand language that comes to life in various ways along any/every touch point.”

Many of the Midwest’s entries inspired Duffy, often regardless of their quality. “I saw a lot of work that was really strong and made me say, I wish I would have thought of that. I get inspired by everything I look at, even by work I don’t think is great—but especially the work that is.”

Duffy’s advice for those planning to enter next year’s RDA brings to light an issue often overlooked by designers submitting electronically: “I saw some work that could’ve been good, but it was either shot poorly where I couldn’t make out all the details or there was only one image submitted. I think multiple images of even one piece to show more detail will give you a better chance at success. It’s the tiny details that separate the award winners.”

View more 2014 RDA winner galleries.