Regional Design Annual 2015: Southwest

RDA_2016_0205_468The Regional Design Annual is America’s preeminent design competition. View the winners of the 2015 RDA from the Southwest below, or enter the 2016 RDA.

SWSixth-generation Texan DJ Stout judged the RDA’s Southwest region this year, and looking at his star-studded bio, it’s easy to see why he was the perfect choice for the task.

Stout gushes with pride for his home turf, which is why he was a bit taken back that many entries seemed to lack regional flavor and a Southwestern attitude. This left him pondering design across the United States. “I’m thinking that design is looking more the same across the country because of technology and the ability to easily and instantly access (and be inspired by) design solutions from all over the world,” he says.

Stout notes that many entries centered around beer and coffee, which he admits are typically fun projects. He also saw a large amount of typography at play that’s influenced by vintage Americana advertising from the 1940s–1960s.

“I think this is a reaction to technology as well and a counter to the slickness and perfection of designs produced on our increasingly sophisticated computers,” he says.

His secret to picking the winners? “I pay attention to my gut instinct. … I just automatically like a design or not,” says Stout, who has been a graphic designer for more than 35 years. “I’m also looking for an idea. A lot of graphic design these days ends up being nothing more than decoration. When I judge a competition I’m looking for the glimmer of a concept in the design solution. When I do see a good idea, it makes me smile.”

Regional Design Annual Winners from the Southwest