Need a boost of inspiration? Here's a selection of the 2016 Best Design Awards finalists

If you're looking for some striking images to keep your creative levels up, you've got to have a look at the 2016 Best Design Awards finalists. The awards are organized by the Designers Institute of New Zealand, and the winners will be announced to a sold-out crowd at the Best Awards Dinner 2016, being held on October 14 at Auckland's Viaduct Events Centre.

The finalists were selected from more than 1000 entries, and they represent the best graphic, interactive, moving image, spatial, and product designs from the past year. Below, we've brought you a selection of the finalists, and the stories behind their creations. Get ready to be inspired!

Puanga Tangata Whenua Portraits by CELT

These portraits were created for the Puanga Festival by designer Charlie Ward. Ward photographed intergenerational tangata whenua from the Whanganui and Taranaki tribes, with the photographs being taken in specific tribal grounds, as per cultural protocol. The resulting images are an authentic visual expression, portraying the tangata whenua with dignity and respect, presenting the Puanga Festival through the faces and the places of the region.

Silo Theatre 2016 by Alt Group

Having built a reputation around being an edgy and avant garde theatre, Alt Group focused on keeping this reputation alive during the creation of the 2016 campaign. They utilized such notions as ugly, beautiful, public and private, powerful and intimate, humourous but intellectual, and throughout their photography, the actors became living emoticons of the logo. When wearing the branded balaclava, it was noticeable that the actors became larger and more unapologetic versions of themselves.

Lumojo Honey by Alt Group

Focusing on the occasions when honey is used as an accompaniment, Alt Group photographed such settings as a toasted muesli breakfast, a cup of tea with a spoonful of honey, and even a platter of fruit and soft cheeses. Rather than taking standard product shots, this campaign focused on the environment surrounding the various meals Lumojo Honey would be consumed at. 

At Your Request by Studio South

Studio South created this campaign to showcase At Your Request's new crisp, clean, and modern identity. An array of cleaning products were painted white, and they were then shot on a white background — even the model wasn't spared the paint treatment, as you can see holding the shovel in an image above. Greyscale images of people from the company bring warmth to the collection.

Capture the Mechanics by Creature

Design firm Creature made a documentary series of images that captured the company's expertise and passion. Wellington mechanics are photographed undertaking their day-to-day jobs and in the environment they spend time working in daily, helping to develop a respect and understanding of what each team does.

Royal New Zealand Ballet 2016 Season Brochure by Special Group

Artistic Director Francesco Ventriglia joined the Royal New Zealand Ballet team at the end of 2015, and the beauty of balletic form and tradition was reframed as Ventriglia brought a new vision to the 60-year-old ballet. Special Group teamed up with various members of the New Zealand fashion design community to showcase the Royal New Zealand Ballet's new season, as well as the designers' own lines, and the images were shot inside Shed 10 on Auckland's wharf.

Iron Duke Partners Photography by Scenario Communications Ltd

You may not be aware, but the ‘Iron Duke’ of Wellington's faithful steed was named Copenhagen — with the pair heading to and coming home from battle together for 17 years. For this campaign, a horse that had the characteristics of Copenhagen was hard to come by, according to the team at Scenario Communications Ltd. Every detail was taken into consideration — the colourings, facial structure, and even using the correct bridle and saddle. All images were captured in camera using a black backdrop, and were crafted in post-production, creating a series of images that were works of art in their own right.

Kick up the Arts! 
The 2016 New Zealand Festival, photography by Cansino & Co

To express the intense and overwhelming emotional experience that the arts imparts on audiences, Cansino & Co street-casted the talent in the photographs. The talent was unbriefed and went along to a day of shooting in studio with Joseph Kelly. A variety of props, including a leaf blower, and plenty of ice water were used to help evoke genuine reactions. These reactions were captured, and presented out of context to showcase a powerful set of images.

And the winners are ...

Gold: Lumojo Photography, Alt Group.
Judge's comment: Meticulously styled, beautifully composed still life — product as object.

Silver: Iron Duke Partners Photography, Scenario Communications Limited.

Silver: At Your Request Brand Imagery, Studio South.
Judge's comment: Fresh, crisp, and polished ... what more could you want from a category-breaking cleaning company?

Silver: RNZB | 2016 Season Brochure, Special Group.

Silver: Silo Theatre 2016, Alt Group.
Judge's comment: A great extension of the Silo campaign series. Provocatively balances hard and soft.

Bronze: Capture the Mechanics, Creature

Bronze: Puanga Tangata Whenua Portraits, CELT