- Article by Online Editor
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Melbourne in middle of winter is not a place to visit on a whim, so it’s a testament to its place in the design landscape that designers and architects from around the country took the opportunity to present their work at this year’s IDEA (Interior Design Excellence Awards) jury days. 2012 is the first year that all shortlisted project entrants had the opportunity to present their work to a jury of industry panel members. Invited by former Inside magazine editor, Leanne Amodeo, we (Judith O’Callaghan, Alexander Lotersztain, Natasha Palich, Melanie Dodd and myself) accepted the challenge to juror all shortlisted projects over the course of three full days.
Not daunted by the cold Collingwood warehouse, Compound Interest, our passion for design was tested but not did not diminish. For any industry, awards programmes are the yardstick for the quality of the industry. Given the recent GFC and the uncertainty around the economy more broadly, the challenge for our industry’s designers was there again. Passion and enthusiasm is a constant trait among the design profession and this year was no different. In a country of only 22 million people, the range of awards categories would test any country. From Single Residential to Public Space, and from Object to Workplace, the categories represent vastly divergent design typologies. The number of shortlisted entries not only reflects the strength and competitiveness of the location design industry but also the regard that IDEA has within the market place.
Like all years, some categories delivered stronger projects than others. The Retail and Event categories once again proved to be a launch pad for ideas and conceptual ideologies that fully leveraged off the skills of the local profession – here ideas are king – while the Workplace category reflected a consistent train of thought around Freestyle Working and themes of authenticity. Not surprisingly, the Public Space category reinforced the importance of collaboration between architects and interior designers, while the Residential projects were divided between inherently traditional approaches and projects that strive for a new benchmark in how we live within our urban environment.
Positively, the jurors had at times great diversity in opinion regarding the measure or validity of particular projects. With diverse backgrounds came the full spectrum of what and how to measure or place the importance of such factors as beauty, craftsmanship, sustainability and innovation. These factors once again became the focus of debate and not only mimicked the passion that as jurors we have for design, but that also challenge the importance of our industry among the community. Given the economics of recent years, the overall depth of quality to the projects presented was incredible. In most cases, the winners were not clear, which reflects the breadth of competition. Being on the jury of the IDEA programme is a privilege not just because it is a crystallisation of a point in time for an industry but also because it is refreshing to be surrounded by a community of people that actually cares about our environment and the shaping of its future.