We are always delighted to be involved in the kbbreview Retail & Design Awards judging process, an opportunity to see the brave and the good of the bathroom and kitchen industry and to catch up on all the best designs and designers in the industry of the past year when the shortlisted chosen few come and face us on a judging panel.
We try not to put too much pressure on those that have to walk the proverbial plank. Some of them look truly terrified when they enter the room but Helen, I and the other judges try to make sure we are not putting on our Ms Judgey-Pant faces. We have after all been on the other side of the table numerous times in the past (we have a prized collection of kbb awards to prove it!) so we are very familiar with the feeling associated with being a finalist walking into a room full of judges. And as a judge it is certain that we will get a better idea of a project if the finalist is put at ease from the get-go. We are always at pains to point out that we are not judging presentation skills, photography or confidence, we are looking at design, innovation, problem solving, and going above and beyond a clients expectations.
The kbbreview Retail & Design Awards follow a vigorous judging path, from the initial paper sift, where we as judges have to work our way through each and every application and rate them according to a set of criteria, from which only four in each category are then asked to the Judging Day. This day is a pretty unique opportunity in design competition circles for the applicant to personally present their design and answer any queries the judges may have. In our fourth year of judging this award, and after several years of entering and getting to the shortlisted stages, I have to say that this part of the process is the most beneficial, from both the judging and the finalists point of view. There is nothing better than hearing about the design, the process, the pitfalls, the wins, and the end result of the design from the designer themselves. Often, as judges, our preconceived ideas of who has won based on the paper application are turned upside down once we have the opportunity to talk through the design with each candidate.
This year was no exception, in terms of quality and calibre of work. In many ways, it was our hardest year to date as the level of design quality was so high. In all three categories for Bathrooms there was strong debate about who the overall winner might be, and in two of the categories we had to go with a majority vote, it was a very close-run competition. So, my message for any of the finalists is that to get to this stage is a pretty major achievement, winning is icing and cherry but genuinely pat yourselves on the back for getting this far. And anyone who got the opportunity to come to London, and have a bit of a look round the amazing Zaha Hadid designed Roca London Gallery can at least walk away knowing that for a short time we were all fortunate enough to be able to pretend we were sitting in a James Bond film set!
And hey, judges, winners and finalists all get to attend the awards bash in March, where you can dress up and have a wee drink to celebrate, or drown your sorrows. Count on Helen and I to be partaking of a little fizz, we just have to make sure we don’t get too drunk before the results are announced, our poker faces might start to slip after one too many…..