Designing a platform for the world’s best in architecture and design

AZ Awards
Art Direction, Branding, Motion Graphics, Video


The AZ Awards is an annual awards gala in Toronto that celebrates international architecture and design. Hosted by Azure Magazine, the show honors work in various disciplines, from landscape architecture to furniture design to student work. For four consecutive years, Frontier provided creative direction for the show and developed unique video presentations. 

Big Show, Big Additions

With twenty categories, the show’s inherent challenge is its size. In response, Frontier created new elements to diversify the pacing of the show. Highlights include pre-filmed juror interviews that provide insights into the jury process. In addition to video, Frontier redesigned the stage to feature a forty-foot-wide LED screen and, during the first year of our partnership, designed the gala’s architectural installation.

2020 Virtual Gala

In 2020, the AZ Awards went entirely online in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Frontier worked closely with Azure leadership to guide the redevelopment of the show for a digital context. Many parts of the gala were redesigned from the ground up, and every visual asset for the show was created to be cross-platform and immediately shareable across social media. You can view the entire 2020 Virtual Gala here.

The gala from Frontier's inaugural year collaborating with AZ.

A big addition to the show is the use of jury members to tell the story of the gala and its importance. Leveraging interviews conducted for Azure Magazine, we developed a series of shorts for each year’s gala. The video below features architect Thom Mayne, founder of Morphosis.

Frontier is highly creative, deadline driven and full of fresh ideas and energy. They bring a perspective on the audience experience that is based on a wealth of knowledge of all forms of visual communication alongside a willingness to engage with deeper meaning.

Nelda Rodger, Editorial Director

Each year, Azure hires an internationally recognized designer to create the trophy for that year’s gala. For the tenth anniversary of the award show, Frontier developed a short video to celebrate a decade of trophy design and reveal the newest addition—a blown-glass monument designed by Luca Nichetto.

Trophy videos shot by Wyatt Clough.

Above: Stills from the 2020 Virtual Gala. Below: Visuals for the 2020 Gala were designed to function cross-platform, with elements rearranged to suit several formats.

With the exception of 2020, the AZ Awards is hosted annually at Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto. During the first year of our work with Azure, Frontier implemented several key additions to the physical space—the centerpiece being a forty-foot-wide LED screen as the backdrop for the visual presentation. We also designed and built the installation for the reception area using a series of cardboard squares that interlocked to create modular sculptures.

In addition to the awards ceremony, the gala night acts as a social event for many in the industry. Transitioning from reception to stage show, we developed a countdown that led to the start of the event. Below are sections of the countdown from one year.

Guest of Honor Martha Schwartz.
Stills from the 2018 video presentation.