2006 International Design Award Winners: Best of Show

View a complete list of 2006 International Design Award Winners

Eat Your Heart Out

by Carmen Pease

All great cooks have secret recipes that, with the right pinches and dashes and unexpected seasonings, transform the boring into the zesty and scrumptious. The same is true for annual reports, which can turn out bland and hard to stomach. But Croatian firm Bruketa & Žini? was able to cook up a design delicacy with its project "Feed Me," which brought this year’s judges back for seconds.

"The annual report is the most important piece from a company, and here they’ve really embraced that idea," says judge Steve Hartman. From the cardboard box the book is delivered in (which protects its raised vacuum-form cover) to the meat and potatoes of its bright red financial section, "It’s a book with ambition," say art directors Davor Bruketa and Nikola Žini?. "It’s a product which, like good food, is consumed slowly, enjoying every minute."

Since the client is European food company Podravka (whose tagline is "Company with a heart"), it makes sense that one of the main ingredients in the project is the idea that the way to a person’s heart is through her stomach. And what better way to rouse readers’ appetites than with a table of contents arranged like a menu, removable recipes peppered throughout the report and the company’s management board dressed up as chefs? "It’s a witty idea," judge Peleg Top says. "It makes me want to read it, although I don’t know if that’s because I’m a food person!"

Actually, it probably also has something to do with the edge-pushing production of the book. "When we design, we like to explore the extreme limits of the medium," say the designers, who’ve been dishing out Podravka’s annual reports for five years. With the report’s tactile cover, folded pages, heart die-cuts and techniques including foil-stamping, they say, "It’d be misleading to say we do things nobody has ever done before, but we try to get the maximum out of the technology—in service of storytelling, of course."

And that’s where this annual report gets its kick. The first pages reveal characters, marked with empty heart die-cuts, who are looking to be fed. But not just any flavorful fare will do; they need to be fed with love. Podravka’s philosophy of "Always cook food with love" is then steeped into the story, set up like a theatrical play with an introduction, plot development and resolution. "The biggest challenge was to bring together two opposite tasks: the basic informative purpose of the report and the story we wanted to tell—the values of the company," the designers say. "In spite of all the storytelling parts, in the end, it still has to be an annual report." Fortunately, that just means it’s good to the last, hearty bite.

On the cover and through the opening pages, Bruketa & Žini? set the stage for the plot of "Feed Me": Young folks donning red T-shirts have the hearts cut out of them as if they yearn to be fed. What’s interesting is how, even though it’s not practical to continue the cover’s vacuum-form production technique through the whole book, they mimic its 3D look with the interior die-cuts.

To communicate to all of the company’s investors, one half of the book is written in English; flip it over and the other is in Croatian. The red, middle section reports all the company’s financial stats.

Bruketa & Žini? is avid about design’s role in storytelling. For this project (which took about two months to complete), the story they were endeavoring to tell is, "Always cook food with love." The designers explain, "’Feed Me’ tries to communicate the basic values of this big food company in an entertaining way. There were a thousand ideas on how to express that; this one was the best for us."

As the judges looked through the finalists in the competition, trying to decide on which would make it as Best of Show, Peleg Top stopped at "Feed Me" and remarked, "It’s so funny; this makes me want to read it." Fellow judge Jenn Visocky O’Grady added, "And keep it."

Bruketa and Žini? say their favorite part of the project was working with their printer. "They acquired a big printing machine for hot stamping on foil, which gave us the opportunity to try out everything that can be done with it. We’d never done entire pages like this before."

Little surprises, like these recipes that you can tear out, are sprinkled throughout the book in an effort to "draw the reader into the story," say the designers. The recipes (for such dishes as fried pilchards and goulash) were provided by the client, Podravka.

Title: "Feed Me" Annual Report
Design Firm: Bruketa & Žini?
Art Directors: Davor Bruketa, Nikola Žini?
Photographers: Marin Topi?, Domagoj Kuni?
Printer: IBL d.o.o.
Client: Podravka d.d.


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