Regional Design Annual 2014: Far West

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

A judge like Michael Vanderbyl is hard to come by. His übersuccessful firm Vanderbyl Design is a pillar of the design scene, standing strong in San Francisco since 1973. The studio has evolved with the industry at large, truly expanding to produce work covering a broad range of multidisciplinary mediums of delivery. You’ll find projects that span print and digital to retail space, textiles, fashion apparel and product design all under the Vanderbyl Design portfolio. “Everything communicates, whether it’s a space, or object, or chair or graphic,” as Vanderbyl has said.

He’s held positions for prestigious organizations such as AIGA, Alliance Graphique Internationale and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and has been inducted into Interior Design magazine’s Hall of Fame. This year, he judged the Regional Design Annual Far West entries, including many projects from the Bay Area, where Vanderbyl grew up and now resides. He met the
task enthusiastically.

While judging in the midst of Silicon Valley, he noticed an overarching design trend in entries that exuded “a lighter touch expressing confidence and humanness.” He credits this largely to a return to the days of “boutique endeavors,” in which interesting work done for small clients is affording designers great opportunity. “It’s refreshing and unexpected in light of the all-too-prevalent tech environment. There are many ways to solve a problem—and beautiful design is finding its way.” This contributes to a decrease in the number of large-scale and, unfortunately, comprehensive projects, as he noted. Vanderbyl saw a strong showing of food, beverage, restaurant and packaging entrants in the Far West, a theme that was documented by judges in other regions. “The artisanal movement has resulted in what I see as a pluralism in the design approach; elegance has returned, and while there is a sense of nostalgia, it is executed with a modern sensibility,” Vanderbyl says.

View more 2014 RDA winner galleries.