Cannes Lions

Pharrell Williams' Recycled Plastic Fashion Wins Cannes' First Product Design Grand Prix

'Raw for the Oceans' and Yarn Made From Marine Trash Wow Inaugural Jury

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In the new product design category this year, the Grand Prix was awarded to an unusual project to make jeans and other clothing recyled from plastic trash recovered from the ocean. Called "Raw from the Oceans," the line is curated by singer Pharrell Williams for denim fashion brand G-Star Raw, working in collaboration with a company called Bionic Yarn and the Vortex Project. The effort was entered by G-Star Raw Amsterdam and FHV BBDO in the Netherlands.

What it is: Bionic Yarn is a fiber created from recycled plastic harvested from the ocean that is being used to make jeans for the first time. The dark blue and black clothing features an octopus motif. The collection was announced at Fashion Week in New York but won't be in stores until September, although the product design jury was sent samples of the jeans.

Why it won: The jury was responsible for defining the inaugural product design category, and differentiating it from the many other awards at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Jury president Donghoon Chang described "Raw for the Oceans" as the Holy Grail. He said it stood out from the start of the judging for form, function, and innovation, and a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.

"The end result was the clothing itself," said U.S. judge Dan Formosa, a designer at Smart Design. "But the entire project was more visionary."

Fellow judge Anthony Dickens, creative partner at Studio Make Believe in the U.K., said "We thought about how much good this product will do. It's good for people, animals and the environment. And it helps solve a very difficult problem because we often use plastic in product design."

The jury: Product design was the only Cannes jury chaired by a marketer, Donghoon Chang, an executive VP at Samsung Electronics in South Korea.

The nine-person jury (only eight were at the press conference) is the festival's smallest, and was notable for the absence of women.

Festival CEO Philip Thomas pointed out that Cannes has recruited more women judges, with the highest number of female jury presidents and proportion of judges overall this year.

"We're not interested in tokenism," he pointed out. "For the first product design jury, we wanted to choose the best of the best, and they're of the male persuasion."

Lions awarded: In addition to the Grand Prix, the judges awarded 8 product design Lions, 3 to the U.S. (In the first few years of a new Cannes category, the judges award simply Lions, without making a distinction between gold, silver and bronze). The U.S. winners were Central Park Conservancy and Landor Associates, working with Landscape Forms; Nest Learning Thermostat, from Nest and Bould Design; and Project Daniel: 3D print prosthetic arms for children of war-torn Sudan, from The Ebeling Group, Not Impossible Labs and Richard Van As/Robohand.

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