Our Favourite Design Innovations of 2007


When it comes to year-end lists, the topics of choice tend to be films, music releases and news stories. Since our own field of interest is often overlooked, we wanted to usher in 2008 with exactly 8 perspectives on what made the past year significant for graphic design. So, we’ve asked a smattering of designers and creative professionals from all across North America to contribute some concepts for our year-end post. Kindly taking time out of their Christmas crunch, our friends submitted their thoughts on what design pieces stood out as memorable, catchy, excellent, significant, or just plain fun. It is with much Christmas merriment and New Year anticipation that we present to you our favourite eight design innovations of 2007, as decided by the friends, staff and affiliates of Elbowroom Design — alphabetically, by first name, of course.

Interactive Bread: the campaign from Tribal DDB for First United Church

Arcade Fire, with milk & toast

Chosen by Adam Neilson, Co-founder & Director of Production
Burnkit Creative
Vancouver, BC

1. Arcade Fire’s “Neon Bible” music video
Such a simple idea, but totally unique, and because of it Arcade Fire gets exposure they could never hope to with a traditional music video (and on a much slimmer budget to boot).

2. Get the Glass
I spent 40 minutes on this the first time I saw it, and a few 30 minute sessions at other times. And, through them all, my 4 year old daughter was just as compelled as I was. This is an incredible creative and technical feat, to occupy my attention for that long.

3. Interactive Bread
A really smart, cost effective interactive idea that didn’t need the internet.

Behance action book

Behance Action Book

Chosen by Alan Houser, Chief Creative Officer
Creative Component
Sheridan, Indiana

You would think when asking a Web Designer to tell you his favorite innovation of 2007, he would respond with something technical, or even his favorite web site example. While I’ve added thousands of great links to my del.icio.us account, my favorite design innovation is the BEHANCE ACTION BOOK. The Action Book is part of Behance’s Action Method product line, the first in a series of Behance projects to help creative professionals boost productivity and make ideas happen. It’s not only saved me from forgetting important things, it’s also made me appear organized and cooler than I actually am.



Chosen by Andrea Bonilla, Communications and Promotions
Mount Hermon Camps
Santa Cruz, California

My favorite design innovation from 2007 cannot be pinned to one piece or advertising campaign, but more as a trend I experienced time and time again. We all agree that the words of our culture are becoming increasingly more dependent on images. However, I feel that the images that have become popularized are those which communicate with authenticity. It’s not so much a focus on the glossy and glamorous, but rather, a straightforward focus on reality. Whether it be a campaign for real beauty, or to save the environment there is a newfound craving for a frank look at the reality of the present situation, and a reflection asking “Who are we, now?” The pursuit of authenticity has been my favorite design trend of 2007. It has invited me to not only gaze upon a well-constructed design, but enter in, to participate and to respond.

London 2012 Olympics Logo

London 2012 Olympics Logo

Chosen by Kevan Gilbert, Web & Technical Administrator
Union Gospel Mission
Vancouver, BC

The London 2012 Olympic logo was a thoroughly reviled specimen, decried worldwide for its over-priced ugliness. While its reputation has not improved during these past few months, the logo was able to achieve a remarkable feat: it got the general public excited about graphic design. Non-designers around the globe gleefully engaged the topic, discussing everything from its colour usage to its cost. Legions of wannabes tried their hands at re-doing the logo, and thousands of laypeople voiced their thoughts on the brand, in newspapers, radio shows and blogs. It was as if the masses willingly dove into a spontaneous, educational round table meeting on the subject graphic design, all thanks to London.

Rosa Loves: Designed for good

Rosa Loves

Chosen by Leah Albertson, Marketing Intern
TOMS Shoes
Los Angeles, California

Designers are really owning up to a global responsibility to do good for others, and not just aesthetically. Rosa Loves creates t-shirts for causes: a family in Bangladesh, victims of a housefire, holiday meals for the homeless, a walker for a woman who couldn’t afford one otherwise. These “love projects” provide a tangible and immediate way to provide real help. All the proceeds from each shirt sold go to the family/persons/cause after whom the design was created. “Rosa Loves is less about charity and more about awareness,” reads the website. “Awareness that we are all apart of something greater and are therefore joined by common threads.”

Saskatoon: Blades of Glory

Saskatoon Blades logo

Chosen by Neil Gilbert, Owner & Lead Designer
Elbowroom Design
Calgary, Alberta

One could argue that my selection for this list was a motivated by patriotism; an effort to showcase some quality Canadian content. I may have also selected it just to be different. Although none of these motivations lack validity, I am proud to present the Saskatoon Blades logo for your consideration. The simple construction of the logo combined with layers of meaning is what I think makes it great. To have the vision to associate the “S” and the “B” with a 3- dimensional skate blade and combine it with the powerful imagery of the hilt and blade of a dangerous looking knife is uncommonly clever. The combination of three simple colours is effective and clean. The precise vertical balance of the elements used, makes the threat of being sliced up abundantly clear. (Click here to read more about this logo…)

Apple’s CoverFlow

Cover Flow

Chosen by Wendy Yuen, Web Engineer
Marqui Inc.
Vancouver, BC

With just over 50 years of history, the future of album art was starting to look precarious. What happens when people don’t need to buy “albums” anymore? In the age of iPods and digital delivery of music, the extinction of cover art was definitely possible. Thanks to Apple (the folks who might have had a hand in starting the end of album art), things are looking up. With Cover Flow technology being introduced in third generation iPod models, the genre of cover art may be heading for a dramatic change (small pixel packaging that can potentially be animated) but it isn’t going to be obsolete any time soon.

Going green

World Wildlife Fund ad campaigns

Chosen by Zach Bulick, Editor
Pillar Yearbook at Trinity Western University
Langley, BC

In 2007, being green was just as cool as being deemed hipster in 2005. Daily, the terminology and helpful tips to be more eco-friendly were talked about in the media. Though many of the things being communicated were good for the environment/world, when inundated with the same message constantly, it just makes it easier for viewers to block it out and become immune to it. The World Wildlife Fund had some outstanding ads this year that not only presented their messages clearly, but also left a lasting impression on the viewer because of their connection to the average, everyday life. These ads did what many ads aspire to do; connecting the actions of the everyday consumer to the effects those actions have on the world around us.

Paper Dispenser
(Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Plant a Tree (Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Bangalore, India)
Ocean Levels (Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Toilet Roll (Agency: Fcb, Shangai, China)
Black Cloud (Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Beijing, China)

In Closing…

It seems that 2007 marked a clear shift towards design with purpose, art with heart, and advertising with a social conscience. While perhaps this supports our observation from earlier this year, there is also overwhelming evidence that creativity in all areas of design is alive and well. From the breakthrough album art viewers to small-town Canadian hockey logos, designers are sharper and more relevant than ever. If this is what 2007 gave us, we can’t wait to see what comes in 2008.