By Creative Review


The Annual, in association with Arjowiggins Creative Papers, is Creative Review’s showcase of the outstanding projects of the year. All the selected work appears in a special double May issue of Creative Review.

This year’s Best in Books for Design are:

Himmelstrasse/Brian Griffin

Entrant/Studio: Browns

Cat no: D11.0008.

Chosen in Design_Books

Photographer Brian Griffin’s Himmelstrasse series offers a moving portrait of the Polish railway tracks used to transport prisoners to Nazi extermination camps during World War Two. The tracks are photographed from head height, some in black-and-white, some colour, and serve as a haunting reminder of the horrors that took place under Hitler’s rule.

This book of the series, published by Browns Editions, features a jarring design which sits at odds with Griffin’s images. The design was in part inspired by the title of the series, which translates as Heaven Street and references a cruel joke used to describe prisoners’ final journeys to the gas chambers.

The title appears in a bold, brutal Blackletter typeface on the book’s bright red cover – where “unflinching, bright, insensitive and fetishistic Nazi red is used alongside authentic Nazi typefaces,” says Browns’ Jonathan Ellery. “This is the horrible reality and truth that we wanted to bring to the piece. It’s bludgeoning rather than sensitive and is deliberately frictional with the photography.”

Ellery describes the book’s form as “very bureaucratic, box-like and claustrophobic in form, which is perfect for Brian’s relentless, horrific, yet beautiful images,” he says.


The Independent Front Page 3/9/15

Entrant/Publisher: Independent Print Ltd.

Cat no: D10.0004.

Chosen in Design_Newspapers

Some of the most difficult decisions for newspaper editors, designers and picture editors involve the use of images. Every day, thousands of explicit pictures of violence flood into picture desks. The duty to tell the story versus a no-less important duty to respect victims and readers is a difficult and ongoing debate.

On September 3, 2015, The Independent chose to run an incredibly powerful and distressing image of three year-old Aylan al-Kurdi, lying face-down, dead on a beach in Bodrum, Turkey, on its front page. Other papers ran different images of the same scene. In theirs, the rescue worker was carrying Aylan away from the scene, suggesting a caring, compassionate Europe, trying to cope in tragic circumstances. But the Independent’s image (shot by Yasar Anter for Reuters) suggests a Europe standing back and watching as the crisis unfolds, the refugees abandoned to their fate.

It was a controversial choice: many readers were upset by it (and we apologise if any CR readers are distressed by us reproducing it here). In the following days, however, the debate around the refugee crisis changed, in no small part due to the power of this image. Even previously hostile right-wing newspapers altered their tone. Finally, it seemed, the political will was there to tackle the crisis.

Eight months on, much of that enthusiasm and spirit of concord has dissipated. But, in the short term at least, this piece of design actually changed minds.


Coco de Mer Packaging

Entrant/Studio: Williams Murray Hamm

Cat no: D6.0002.

Chosen in Design_Packaging.

Williams Murray Hamm’s elegant packaging for Coco De Mer’s range of adult toys uses erotic prints and historical portraits of ‘grand dames of seduction’ to re-establish the brand’s luxury positioning.

Founded as an upmarket alternative to mainstream adult shops, Coco De Mer became famous for its provocative ad campaigns in the mid 2000s. Over the years, however, Williams Murray Hamm says its brand strategy had become unclear. The new packaging aims to reinforce the store’s luxury image and combines understated design with some playful touches.

Boxes feature erotic images of nude women, botanical prints and portraits of three historical figures whose sex lives were the focus of national attention: Catherine Howard, the former Queen of England and wife of Henry VIII, who was beheaded for adultery; Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire, whose affairs and marital life were documented in 2008 film The Duchess;  and Nell Gwynne, the long-term mistress of King Charles II.

In a nod to the idea of excitement and discovery, prints and portraits are glimpsed through a peephole on outer boxes, which feature the brand’s logo (redrawn in gold) against a deep brown background.


Click here to find out who judged the Creative Review Annual 2016

The May 2016 issue of Creative Review, featuring The Annual, is out now.

Click here to order a copy.

CR May 2016 cover. Illustration by Charles Williams ( May 2016 cover. Illustration by Charles Williams (

Read more here:: CR Annual Best in Book: Design