JAGDA New Designer Awards 2019: selection process and exhibitions

Award Winners
Natsuki Akanuma, Tomohiro Okazaki, and Ikki Kobayashi

Publication: “Graphic Design in Japan 2019” (June 2019)
Award Ceremony: JAGDA General Assembly 2019 on 28 June 2019 in Tokyo

Tuesday 28 May to Saturday 29 June 2019 at Creation Gallery G8, Tokyo
Tuesday 9 to Thursday 18 July 2019 at Paper Voice Osaka, Osaka
Tuesday 30 July to Sunday 4 August 2019 at Kumamoto Prefectural Musum of Art, Chibajo Branch, Kumamoto
Tuesday 24 September to Monday 14 October 2019 at Gallery Art Site, Seian Art Center, Seian University of Art and Design, Shiga
Saturday 26 October to Monday 4 November 2019 at Gallery, The Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Niigata
December 2019 at 101 Gallery, Nippon Designer Academy of Fine Arts, Aichi


Selection Process of the JAGDA New Designer Awards 2019
The JAGDA New Designer Awards were established in 1983 with the goals of calling attention to outstanding young designers and vitalizing the realm of graphic design. The award winners – normally no more than 3 – are selected each year from among all entrants who have not reached their 40th birthday as of the end of October of the judging year.

This year 152 designers with works submitted for inclusion in the 2019 JAGDA Annual qualified as “new designers” (JAGDA members under age 40 as of October 31, 2018). Among these, a first round of voting was held for the 35 individuals who had 3 or more works in total selected in the 10 categories (2 or more if the Integrated Design category was included). The works of each designer were grouped together at the judging session; all names were kept anonymous.
In this first round, the 29 members of the Selection Committee in attendance were permitted to cast up to 5 votes in total, but they were not required to use up their quota. Initially, a suggestion was made to nominate the 7 individuals who had garnered the most votes: 22, 18, 11 and 8 (4 designers). However, there followed 2 designers who had each received 7 votes, and then 2 others who had attracted 5 votes. Ultimately, the decision was taken to adopt a cutoff line at 7 votes, resulting in a field of 9 finalists.
The final round of voting was then conducted, only this time with each of the 29 Selection Committee members casting 3 votes in total (without the option of not casting all allotted votes). Again, the designers’ names were kept anonymous. In this round each Committee member indicated his or her choices for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places; a 1st-place vote was worth 3 points, 2nd place 2 points, and 3rd place 1 point. The designers who received the most votes in this second round – and who thereby were chosen to win this year’s JAGDA New Designer Awards – were Tomohiro Okazaki (55 points/23 votes), Natsuki Akanuma (30 points/15 votes) and Ikki Kobayashi (25 points/12 votes).

Subsequently, however, when the Secretariat undertook confirmation of the selection results, it came to light that 1 item by a participating designer had inadvertently not been displayed during the initial voting round. The omission was immediately reported to the JAGDA Annual Committee in charge of operating the selection procedures. The designer whose item had been overlooked had received 5 votes during the initial voting, and therefore the possibility arose that had the work in question been displayed, the results of the initial round of voting might have been different.
The Annual Committee took the matter under consideration. Setting a new date on which all members of the Selection Committee could gather again was deemed unfeasible, so it was decided to contact the 24 members who had not voted for the designer in question during the initial round. They were sent snapshots of the works by the designers they had initially voted for together with photos of all works by the designer in question (all works displayed anonymously), and they were asked whether the full comparison would induce them to change their original votes. Among the 24 judges, only 1 replied in the affirmative, thereby giving the designer in question a total of 6 votes. (The designer originally voted by this judge had received a high number of votes in the initial round, and therefore was not eliminated after the change by 1 vote.) The results of this process were then reported to the 5 Selection Committee members who had cast votes for the designer in question during the December session and shared by all members of the Selection Committee.
The JAGDA Annual Committee was of the opinion that since the original borderline had been expanded, the gap between 7 votes and 6 was deemed significant. By way of response, discussions were then held between the Chairman of the Annual Committee, Masahiro Kakinokihara, and JAGDA President Taku Satoh. Here, it was decided that a call would be issued to all members of the Selection Committee asking them to gather once more. After conveying what had occurred and where the situation currently stood, the members would be informed of the Annual Committee’s opinion and a final decision would be left to them. Members unable to attend could submit a letter of proxy, etc.
A meeting took place on February 16, 2019. During the proceedings, a report was made of the various views and opinions which the Secretariat had received from the Selection Committee members by email or telephone, and those in attendance exchanged views. The final outcome was as follows.

Awards selection
The 3 designers selected at the December 19 session would be provisionally designated as the award recipients. The majority view was that inclusion of the inadvertently overlooked work would not change the results, and therefore a new round of voting would not take place.

Response measures
A detailed report of what had occurred between the judging session of December 19 and the meeting of February 16 would be included in the JAGDA Annual, together with a message of apology jointly signed by President Satoh and Chairman Kakinokihara. The name of the designer in question and the overlooked work would not be indicated, and JAGDA would not issue any direct apology to the designer.

Recurrence avoidance
To avoid a situation of the kind that took place this year, the overall system will be strengthened from next year, to include double-checking, etc. Furthermore, in response to this year’s mishap, the entire JAGDA Annual screening system, including how preparations are made for the judging sessions, will be taken under review.

* Details of the February 16 meeting:
- In attendance: 8 members (Kenya Hara, Keiko Hirano, Masahiro Kakinokihara, Hiroaki Nagai, Kazufumi Nagai, Shin Matsunaga, Taku Satoh, Norito Shinmura)
- Absent: 21 members
*Proxy to President Satoh: 6 members (Katsunori Aoki, Rika Eguchi, Tsuguya Inoue, Ken Miki, Manabu Mizuno, Katsuhiko Shibuya)
*Proxy to Chairman Kakinokihara: 8 members (Katsumi Asaba, Koji Iyama, Atsuki Kikuchi, Ryohei “wabi” Kudo, Masayoshi Nakajo, Yui Takada, Ryosuke Uehara, Yoshie Watanabe)
*Agreement with view of JAGDA Annual Committee: 7 members (Osamu Fukushima, Kazunari Hattori, Masaaki Hiromura, Yoshiaki Irobe, Kaoru Kasai, Kei Matsushita, Hitomi Sago)
- Observers:
2 members of JAGDA Annual Committee (Eriko Kawakami, Daijiro Ohara)
3 representatives from Secretariat