September 21st, 2023 | Blog

Design Travels: Discovering Latvian design excellence through jury duty

Pärtel Vurma, CEO of Velvet, shares his insights into immersing himself in Latvia’s design scene.

This month I had the privilege of joining the esteemed Latvian Art Directors Club’s invitation to serve as a juror for the festival of creative excellece ADWARDS

Latvian ADC & jury duty

My heartfelt respect and admiration go out to the Latvian ADC organisation, which has been diligently working to ensure that international perspectives enrich these juries. An international panel of judges not only guarantees a higher degree of objectivity in the evaluation process but undoubtedly elevates the overall quality of assessments. 

Alongside me on this distinguished panel were 

  • Dora Haraldsdóttir, a talented designer from Iceland’s Brandenburg advertising agency,
  • Valerija Žilėnienė, a Lithuanian design virtuoso associated with étiquette.
  • Adam Głowacki, a noteworthy figure in the Polish design scene hailing from McCANN Poland
    and last but not least
  • accomplished Latvian designer Matīss Zvaigzne from the Latvian Academy of Arts.

I fervently hope to witness a significantly more international composition of juries at our design awards in the future, and perhaps even at the Golden Egg Awards.

How’s Latvian design doing?

This remarkable occasion allowed me to immerse myself in the best of Latvian design from the past year and gain valuable insights into the criteria esteemed by design experts from diverse backgrounds. Under cover of secrecy, I must admit that, on a broader scale, designers tend to evaluate creative works quite similarly, irrespective of their country of origin.

Regarding the state of Latvian design, I can confidently affirm that while there may have been a desire for greater diversity in certain categories, the overall standard remains high. 

Under cover of secrecy, I must admit that, on a broader scale, designers tend to evaluate creative works quite similarly, irrespective of their country of origin.

The spirit of design in Latvia is undeniably thriving! In my estimation, the category that stood out as the most fiercely competitive was space and experience design, encompassing everything from impactful museum exhibition concepts to projects addressing wayfinding in educational institutions and healthcare facilities.

In the realm of package design, it was fascinating to observe the distinctive approach taken by Laima, a company within the same Orkla group as Kalev, in their redesign efforts. Laima’s approach to this makeover appeared slightly more conservative and measured in comparison to the bold innovations witnessed in Kalev’s case.

Good design knows no borders. Let’s do things together more.

Beyond the realm of design evaluation, our discussions continued well into the evening, delving deep into the world of design education. My fellow juror, Matiss, happens to be the esteemed head of the Design Department at the Art Academy of Latvia. We made commitments to visit each other in the near future and explore opportunities for fostering professional collaborations. 

It is regrettable that designers from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania collaborate so infrequently, not to mention the limited connections with designers from Iceland or Poland. It is an issue that we are determined to rectify, fostering a stronger sense of unity and cooperation among our regional design communities.

Special thanks to Žanete Eglīte, who was an excellent host and organizer of the jury work.

Find more personal musings of Velvet’s team from our blog or head straight into examples of design, if you’re not much of a reader. Although you made it to the end, didn’t you 🖖