Vegas Hotel Experience Takes Design Grand Prix

Jury Also Awarded a Record 31 Gold Lions in the Category

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Given this year's Design Grand Prix winner, hopefully what happens in Vegas won't stay in Vegas. The Cannes International Festival of Creativity design jury bestowed the category's top honor this year to "The Cosmopolitan Digital Experience," a multimedia digital effort that weaves storytelling into the exterior and interiors of a new Sin City hotel, an effort that the jury said sets a new standard for hotel and retail experiences -- as well as integrated brand building on a broader level.

What it is: Created out of Digital Kitchen, Chicago, the effort makes use of multiple screens embedded in the architecture and interiors of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas to create a unique experience for guests. Among the components include eight screen-wrapped columns that welcome guests in the lobby. Each column features works of photography; 3D and 2D animation; and film that helps to engulf visitors in the hotel's narrative while challenging them to rethink the idea of architecture, interiors and physical space. The digital assets within the experience can be curated and tailored for specific seasons and events.

Why it won: Conor Brady, chief creative officer of Organic and the only juror who experienced the hotel in person, said the work represents an ethos of multidisciplinary design. "It's truly a coming together, in a beautiful, integrated way, all these disciplines of design. What most excited me is that it's completely kinetic. They essentially built a publishing platform for art in this digital space. It opens up the ability to do something great." Added juror Helen Godin, creative director and partner at Sid Lee, Canada: "It was a complete design experience and becomes the new standard for hotels. We all agreed maybe this is something that can be one example for restaurants, hotels and retail." It represents a trend to "think about having a complete, immersive experience, developing packaging, advertising from the roots of design, thinking in terms of branding first and, after that, spread the design all over the place."

The jury: Designer/architect/branding specialist Luciano Deos of GAD Design presided over 15 jurors hailing from 13 countries.

Other standouts: The Gold Lion-winning Basisbibel. The effort was a lively rethink of the religious tome, incorporating a range of vibrant colors, a simple white cross on the front and interior pages redesigned to make the text more accessible. "Something that was a book now feels like a gift -- we can decide where that gift came from -- was it from up above? Or from the designers themselves?" said juror Leslie Smolan, founding partner of Carbone Smolan Agency. The work represented one trend in the entries -- that design can make the old new again.

Another notable Gold Winner was The Human Rights Petition effort for Human Rights Watch, out of JWT, New York. The New York exhibition consisted of 200 photographs of Burmese political prisoners. Each image was covered in pens to create the illusion of prison bars. Visitors could remove the pens and use them to sign a petition so that they could figuratively, and literally, help free the prisoners. "It had a huge impact on freeing prisoners," said juror Mike Mizrahi, creative director at Inside Out Productions, New Zealand. "That was an example where an emotional connection was made through design to communicate very powerfully an idea that changed people's lives."

Total Lions: Outside of the Grand Prix, the jury awarded a record 31 Gold Lions, 27 Silver and 27 Bronze.

Too many Golds? No, said the jury. The winners were selected from a relatively short shortlist. Said Ms. Godin, "What we considered to be really good only made it onto the shortlist, so once we had a really good shortlist, awarding golds, silver and bronzes became so much easier because we awarded only the cream of the crop."

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