Award-winning design and its makers: “Iceberg Songs”

Once a year, the jury of the Red Dot Award: Communication Design honours projects of high design quality. Among the works which received a Red Dot: Best of the Best, the jury awards the Red Dot: Grand Prix. In 2016, the top individual award was granted to the website “Iceberg Songs” designed by Serviceplan and Pan.Net for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Rising awareness for melting icebergs
“Iceberg Songs” is a project that aims at raising awareness of the fact that the icebergs in the polar regions are melting quickly. However, melting icebergs are simply too far away for most people to be emotionally attached to this global issue. The “Iceberg Songs” were composed to overcome this emotional distance. Scientists recorded the natural, yet hauntingly odd sounds arising when icebergs melt. In collaboration with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), internationally renowned musicians turned these sounds into songs for the purpose of making them heard worldwide. With the start of the World Climate Conference 2015, the compositions were visualised with WebGL technology and published under to provide an intense listening experience. Each second that visitors spend listening to the songs is counted. At the end of the project, politicians are asked to spend an equal amount of time as the accumulated listening time on finding solutions for the global issue of climate change.

Red Dot: Grand Prix for “Iceberg Songs”
The Red Dot jury summarised: “This project is fascinating in that it takes one silent phenomenon caused by global warming – the melting of icebergs – and creates a sound identity for it. Sounds never heard before are recorded and, through collaborations with artists around the globe, are turned into music. The result is entirely new sound experiences that, in a manner both intelligent and emotionally appealing, draw attention to a problem hitherto hardly acknowledged in people’s consciousness.” The jury awarded this outstanding design achievement, which was made by Alexander Nagel, Kathrin Wetzel, Christian Mittelmaier, Rebecca Labiner, Stefan Becker, Matthias Schuster and Georgios Kaleadis, with the Red Dot: Grand Prix. Red Dot talked to the designers. 

Red Dot: What is the best moment during a project phase?
Serviceplan/Plan.Net: When the project is shown to the public for the first time – in other words, when it effectively goes “on air” and the whole pre-production stress pays off. When the public has the opportunity to, for the first time, admire and criticise the work.

How do you attract attention?
Preferably with new, unseen and innovative things.

How do you cope with competition?
We use it as a source of inspiration and motivation to keep going.

Is there a designer you would like to meet personally?
It’s difficult to name just one. But above all others we’d like to meet Erik Spiekermann, an inspired typographer and designer, so that we can discuss his wide range of inspiring projects and publications with him.

What are the main challenges you have to overcome in your work life?
Timing, budget and timing.

The Red Dot Award: Communication Design 2017 is on and “in search of good design and creativity”. It offers agencies, designers and companies from all over the world a platform for evaluating their design and creative achievements. At the moment, they can submit their works and projects to the international competition featuring 18 categories. A 24-member jury will assess each individual entry separately and will award the Red Dot seal only to those that win it over with good design quality and creativity.

» Further information on the Red Dot Award: Communication Design 2017