Our monthly jury sessions aren’t just a chance for judges to discuss the winning projects – why they won, what they could have done better. They also give the month’s panel of industry experts the chance to expose key trends among the submissions – and to offer advice for future submitters. Here’s what November’s representatives had to say. 

Focusing on community and communication

‘The sense of community and inclusiveness was really nice to see,’ said Esin Karliova, founder and principal of her eponymous studio. These were qualities she found not just in the top projects, but in a number of others she judged during November. ‘This openness, communication and connectedness: I think we’re really hungry for it, especially now. It’s the trend now, and it’s also the future of design.’ 

Javier Robles, architect and designer at Javier Robles Studio and founder of lighting and furniture studio Lumifer, agreed: ‘Finding a sense of community or some sort of social interaction: humanity is looking for it now, especially during the pandemic.’ 

Top and below: The Senior Centre at the MLC Burwood campus by BVN received an honourable mention from the November jury.

Searching for sustainability

‘Whether a project is high- or low-tech, I noticed that, in general, the idea is how to design a space that has an underlying element of sustainability,’ said Robles. ‘From the technology side to the materials to the space itself.’ 

But sometimes the jury itself was left searching for sustainability: if a project had sustainability credentials, they weren’t always explained or explicit. It was a call to submitters to be clear in their communication.  

Going back to basics

Robles said that the projects he was specifically attracted to share a commonality: their designers looked for the essence of the brief. Karliova echoed this train of thought, saying that what stood out to her were the projects that brought things back to the basics. ‘They were calmer and more tranquil, but used pattern, texture and repetition – the basics that those who went to design school learned during one of the first classes.’ To her, it’s not just about having an incredibly bold piece that serves as a project’s focal point. While noting that that can work in some cases, she advocates for designers to step back during the design process to address those basics. ‘It was a reminder to myself, too, for when I’m working on my own projects.’ 

Even though the Herbarium of Interiors by HEAD – Genève students has a strong focal point, Karliova pointed to it as an example of using repetition and patterns to pull a project together. Photo: Michel Giesbrecht

Working with today’s technologies

After seeing the Herbarium of Interiors by HEAD – Genève students, Catalina Maldonado, sustainability and technology officer at light-technology brand Actilum, made a plea for all those working with lighting to involve new technologies. As a platform, academia is the ‘right way to start making big changes’, she said. And as the representative of a lighting brand, she specifically mentioned human-centric lighting. ‘In the past, we didn’t have the same technologies, and I think we need to update [our approach] and to start using human-centric lighting. What is human-centric lighting? It mimics sunlight indoors to provide us with vitamins. This is so important, especially if we consider countries that don’t have enough sunlight outdoors. Indoors, we can support and accelerate these changes . . . I’m sure that in five to ten years, we’ll all be talking about these subjects. But as this technology is currently available, I think students need to [make a] start.’ 

Watch the full talk here: