YSDN student designers score big in international awards

The York University/Sheridan College Program in Design (YSDN) makes history once again, with recent graduate Joyce Dang (BDes ’15) bringing home the Adobe Design Achievement Awards (ADAA) prize for packaging. It’s the fifth time in six years that a student from YSDN has captured top honours in this category. The ADAA competition draws entries from several thousand students from more than 70 design schools worldwide.

Joyce Dang’s AquaSkins won first place in the 2015 Adobe Design Achievement Awards packaging category.

Joyce Dang’s AquaSkins won first place in the 2015 Adobe Design Achievement Awards packaging category.

Dang’s playful project Aqua Skins provides a friendly experience for children after they’ve sustained a cut or scrape. Inspired by the protective and waterproof characteristics of fish scales, Aqua Skins is a fun set of colourful bandages in illustrated packaging in the shape of a fish. The bandages are individually layered like fish scales and the charming packaging also makes the task of applying a bandage easier, as the bandage is accessible with a simple pull. When bandages are removed, the bones of the fish become visible – a signal to replace the bandages soon.

Aqua Skins started out with a brief to create a ‘look-a-like’ package. I considered several different objects and how I could conceal or transform them into something creative. I realized that bandages could become fish scales and be related back to fish in terms of protecting the skin, as scales do,” said Dang.

Joyce Dang (first row, fourth from the right) makes a V for victory with the winners of the 2015 Adobe Design Achievement Awards.

Joyce Dang (first row, fourth from the right) makes a “V” for victory with the winners of the 2015 Adobe Design Achievement Awards

“Our class all knew about the ADAA Awards and the success our program has had over years, but I never thought I’d be a winner,” Dang said. “In class we’d always joke about each other being a winner, but when it actually happens, it’s such an exciting feeling.

“I submitted two of my package designs, Aqua Skins and Mood, and both made the semi-finalist round. The other semi-finalists were so talented; I had no idea how close I would get to winning. It was really rewarding to hear from professionals and well-known designers how much they liked Aqua Skins.

“The ADAA awards ceremony was an amazing experience,” said Dang. “It was inspiring to connect with young designers who are extremely talented and passionate about design.

In addition to the bragging rights of winning one of the most prestigious international student design competitions, Dang’s ADAA award came with a 12-month Adobe Creative cloud membership; air fare, accommodation and admission to the ADAA Grand Prize Screening and Reception and Adobe MAX convention in Los Angeles Oct. 3 to 7; and a one-year industry mentorship.

Dang’s ADAA mentor is Shelia Marable, a graphic designer and creative director who teaches at Sullivan College of Technology and Design at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. “I’m hoping to learn a lot from her about the design industry and how I can grow as a young designer,” Dang said.

Dang, who currently employed as a designer at SapientNitro in Toronto, extended special thanks to YSDN package design professor Albert Ng, for pushing her to do her best and never underestimate her abilities.

“Many judges have said that my students’ award-winning projects are both marketable packaging and engaging works of art”, said Ng. “Innovative design solutions like these can very powerfully enhance the user experience, and it’s such an honour to help my students develop their remarkable ideas.”

Cecilia-Uhr

Cecilia Uhr

In the semifinals, YSDN had a total of 36 nods and it led all Canadian schools in the ADAA final round, with Dang’s win, honourable mentions for Nathakorn Tammy Kittananthawongs’ Get Well for packaging and Emily Munro‘s Tokens-of-Wilderness for print communication, and Cecilia Uhr‘s Change for Change as a finalist in the social impact design category.

Cecilia Uhr’s Whitebites won first place in the 2014 Adobe Design Achievement Awards packaging category.

Cecilia Uhr’s Whitebites won first place in the 2014 Adobe Design Achievement Awards packaging category.

Last year Uhr won the ADAA packaging award with Whitebites, her innovative and environmentally conscious packaging design for rawhide dog chews. Uhr’s beautiful dog face illustrations form the top half of the recyclable package, with a die-cut opening revealing the rawhide sticks as the dog’s teeth.  In addition to the AADA prize, Whitebites picked up two awards from the Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario (RGD), an American Package Design Award, and an Applied Arts student award. Since then, Uhr has licensed her Whitebites design to an international pet food company, and the packaging and product are currently in production.

ADAA isn’t the only competition where YSDN students made an impressive showing this year.

At the 2015 RGD Student Awards, Dang’s Aqua Skins won the Shikatani Lacroix Award for packaging design and Julia Grzeskowiak received the Tamm + Kit Award for Greater Toronto Area (a category where YSDN also received two honourable mentions). Lucas Young took home the Bell Media Award for motion graphics, and Chloe Negrette picked up the SapientNitro Award for interaction design. With an additional 11 honorable mentions, YSDN netted more than double the accolades of any other Canadian school.

“Design’s Identity Crisis” by Lucas Young, winner of the RGD’s Bell Media Award for Motion Graphics

Design’s Identity Crisis by Lucas Young, winner of the RGD’s Bell Media Award for Motion Graphics

Applied Arts magazine has announced its student award-winners in advance of its November issue where their works will be published. YDSN students Melissa Banyard, Lauren Holden, Michael Merlino, Hyojung Julia Seo, Angelina Tjhung and Fiona Yeung all made the cut.

The student award winners in the final major design competition of the year, the Art Directors’ Club of Canada, will be announced at the ADCC Awards gala in Toronto on Nov. 19.

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