Raising the bar of barcodes in design

Each year, GS1 NZ and Whitireia/WelTec join forces to host the Raising the Bar barcode design competition, an initiative designed to provide design students valuable real-world experience. The competition tasks the students with creating an innovative product and integrating an outside-of-the-box barcode design while meeting the GS1 barcode standards. This practical application is helpful for preparing students for the dynamics of the professional world. By navigating barcode design and industry standards, students gain hands-on experience in addressing the functionality and usability of barcodes on physical products. The competition provides the students with the ability to experience the intricate balance between creative design and practical implementation.

Both organisations saw the potential for students to benefit from real-world experience and opportunities to bridge the gap between theoretical learning and practical industry application. By immersing themselves in the competition, students develop a better understanding of GS1 barcode standards and how to apply them. This extends their learning beyond the classroom and provides them with tangible knowledge that has immediate relevance. Students learn to navigate the intricacies of the design industry, ensuring that their creative endeavours align with practical requirements when it comes to packaging design.

Creating innovation

The Barcode Competition goes beyond the awards and recognition. It's a platform where creativity meets innovation, and where new ideas can be implemented. It's about encouraging the students to think outside the box and solve problems – because barcodes don’t need to be boring! Hopefully, the competition means we will be seeing an abundance of creative barcode designs in the world.

The 2023 Winners and Designs

The entries for the Raising the Bar competition in 2023 brought a wave of creativity and imagination to the competition. The final products were outstanding, with designs that celebrated the art of barcoding with practical applications in various industries.

The winners were announced at Whitireia/WelTec's opening night of the E/MERGE Creative Tech Ākonga exhibition. The exhibition was a beautiful display of the sheer talent of their design students. While the winners were decided by Whitireia/WelTec, the GS1 NZ team always has a ‘people’s vote’ where the GS1 NZ team votes for their favourite barcode design. This year's designs were some of the best we had seen, but with only three top prizes the competition was tight.

First place and a $1000 prize was taken out by Kay Taitua for their design Hydra.

Second place was taken out by Richard Christy-Jones and their design Arcarna.

Third place was taken out by Iva Tanevesi and their design Hāku.

What made the occasion even more special was to see their friends and whanau looking on, able to celebrate the student's successes and hard work. Alice Moore, Tutor Of Creative Technologies expressed her gratitude stating “On behalf of Whitireia and Weltec, I would like to thank GS1 for providing our students the opportunity to engage in a real-world industry project. It was wonderful to see the student's excitement and engagement with the project, and the support and feedback they offered one another despite this being a competition.”

The Raising the Bar competition is a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and creativity. As we look ahead, we are excited about the positive changes that this competition will continue to bring to the design community within New Zealand. It's not just about barcodes - it's about pushing the boundaries of what's possible and inspiring the innovators of tomorrow.