From photographers to animators, directors to interaction designers, 2016’s list of ADC Young Guns is a deliciously mixed bag of some of the most talented and enviably youthful creative types from around the globe. While other 30 under 30 models are often a predictable mix of big industry names getting a warm slap on the back, this year’s Young Guns reveal an impressive amount of talent that has so far avoided the limelight.
This could perhaps be due to a rigorous new selection process that demanded each winner be nominated by a team of 40 “cultural influencers” of international renown (including Paula Scher, Arem Duplessis, Gail Bichler, Paula Antonelli, and John Maeda )—the long list of 200 then scrutinised and narrowed down to a final 30. In demanding a panel with its finger firmly on the pulse of the global creative industries this year’s Young Guns are made up not only of creatives with extraordinary self-promotional skills, but those making waves within forward-thinking enterprises like Fabrica, Google, Bloomberg, and KesselsKramer.
Of course there are some ‘celebrity’ creatives in the mix too, like Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling, creators of the infamous Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared series, and Hassan Rahim, whose name evokes a sense of awe among an achingly cool subsection of the online design community.
Perhaps most striking about this year’s award winners is the breadth of roles they play within the field of design. Interactive designer, interface designer, developer, creative coder, programmer, front end engineer, and interdisciplinary designer sit alongside the more traditional roles of graphic designer and art director. The industry is evolving, and this year’s winners attest to it.
Like inter-disciplinary designer Coralie Gourguechon, currently a resident at Fabrica in Treviso, whose open-source paper models seek to dispel the mystery of electronic devices by simplifying their construction into diagrammatic form, reducing complex circuitry into a single printed page. For Gourguechon, “technology is more and more seamlessly integrated to our daily lives, and is no longer limited to the range of ‘tech products’. Designers now have to think about the experience of using digital systems, and the way we bridge the digital with the physical.”
With that in mind, she feels design should be about “challenging the sense of need, while re-thinking the existing production process. Following the quote, ‘just because we can doesn’t mean we should, and just because we should doesn’t mean we can,’ design thinking should act on a bigger scale—at a society level.”
Gourguechon’s bigger picture ideas about design are echoed by another winner, Merel Witteman, who works as part of a creative duo at Dutch agency KesselsKramer. For Witteman, “design and advertising should only be a tool to reach the public and tell the story in a most honest or clear way. Advertising shouldn’t be about making ugly things look pretty, a good service or product will sell itself.
“Companies, influencers and other important people should engage with socially conscious subjects, so that designers can help them communicate that. I don’t like it when designers use ‘eco’ as a style—the product or service should be ‘eco’ or ‘good’. I would ideally like to work more on good projects that solve real problems. There’s so much shit to fix.”
The full list of 2016 winners is available to view here.