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Tue 13 Jan 2009 04:00 AM

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Commercial Interior Design Awards 2008

Leading figures from the region's interior design industry converged at The Westin Dubai on December 1 for the second annual Commercial Interior Design Awards.

Leading figures from the region's interior design industry converged at The Westin Dubai on December 1 for the second annual Commercial Interior Design Awards.

Over 300 of the region's top interior designers, architects and suppliers were present to see their industry peers rewarded for outstanding work over the last 12 months.

Presented by Al Aqili Furnishings, the CID Awards were organised to celebrate and pay tribute to the projects, interior design firms and designers presently making a mark on the evolution of the region's interior design industry.

"It was a pleasure and an honour to be the presenting and platinum sponsor of the CID Awards for the second consecutive year and we look forward to the next two years," said Shahriar Khodjasteh, group marketing director of Al Aqili Furnishings.

"We are always happy to support an industry that has supported us since the very beginning. The event was a tremendous success and our congratulations go out to all the winners," he said.

From environmentally-friendly offices in Cairo to luxury resorts in Muscat and business hotels in Al Khobar, a diverse collection of design projects were entered into the 12 award categories this year.

As befitting an industry no longer in its infancy, judges looked for work that displayed original thinking, creative breadth and a willingness to stray from tried and tested formulas.

The judging panel consisted of Kenneth Laidler, president of the Association of Professional Interior Designers (APID), Dr. John Alexander Smith from the American University of Dubai, and Sergio Padula of iGuzzini. Interior Design of the Year: Public Sector & Institutional

Winner:KCA International - The Metro

Shortlist:WA International - Sharjah Chamber of Commerce, KCA International - The Metro, WA International - Emirates Engineering Headquarters

In the words of the winner:"Dubai and the UAE were the inspiration for KCA International. We have two individual designs that reflect the final design of each individual station. To reflect a sense of linkage to the past, we introduced colour based on the four elements. The second variable was the design style, of which there were two schemes: light Arabic traditional and contemporary. The first is based on traditional architectural elements, combined with the use of materials that add texture. The second is a more contemporary approach with touches of style that will also have local reference." Interior Design of the Year: Retail

Winner:Bishop Design Associates - Al Anwaar Jewellery, Dubai Mall

Shortlist:Bluehaus - Good to Go, Terminal 3, Bishop Design Associates - Al Anwaar Jewellery, Dubai Mall, Bluehaus - Supercare, Dubai Mall.

In the words of the winner:"The main aim for the Al Anwaar Jewellery store at Dubai Mall was to create a serene and elegant environment with strong links to femininity. Our design approach was to accommodate and achieve these sentiments by harmonising different surface textures into the space, as well as high-class product accessibility and visual exposure. One of the main objectives was achieving a seamless environment where the space is fluid and the process from entrance to product was in synergy with the design aesthetics. Maximum visual exposure of the jewellery is achieved through the use of technical LED lighting, enhancing the object." Interior Design of the Year: Corporate

Winner:KCA International - Sama Dubai Sales Centre, Muscat

Shortlist:Nakheel - Design Group Offices, WA International - The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce, KCA International - Sama Dubai Sales Centre, Muscat.

In the words of the winner:"Oman's architecture is imbued with a spirit of minimalism and austerity. Architectural lines are simple and linear yet visually elegant and dramatic. Its details and elements are geometric and repetitive, yet bold and compelling. The Muscat Sales Centre will evoke a special experience and relationship with Oman's distinct architectural style and stunning landscape. It will offer a modern simplicity, along with a powerful architectural language with elegant subtlety in traditional detailing and treatment of elements. We took our visual cue from Oman's remarkable natural surroundings, splendid landscape and perennial beauty to develop the sales centre's colour palette and texture."

Interior Design of the Year: Restaurant

Winner:Drawlink Interior - Les Celebrites, JAL Hotel

Shortlist:Kensington Interiors - Krystal Sky Lounge, WA International - Empire Fine Dining, The Monarch Dubai, Drawlink Interior - Les Celebrites, JAL Hotel.

In the words of the winner:"The main concept was to promote refinement, luxury and lightness, and therefore a warm and fair ambience. The whole space is structured around one axle, fulfilled by a line of crystal suspensions in the ceiling and an endless blue silver carpet reflected in a large mirror with an incurved silver frame. Original LED lighting illuminates the place, and the light reflected in the mirrors from the small lamps creates subtle harmony with light touches of gold. The French restaurant is a project with full concept and design done by Drawlink Interior, scheduled to open next year." Interior Design of the Year: Leisure & Entertainment

Winner:WA International - Neos, The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai

Shortlist:Bishop Design Associates - Mahi-Mahi, Wafi City, Kensington Interiors - Kensington Krystal Water Spa, WA International - Neos, The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai.

In the words of the winner:"Hailed as the most exclusive square kilometre in the world, the Downtown Burj Dubai area is the prestigious location for The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai. Befitting the address, the hotel is a cornucopia of subdued elegance and nowhere is this more evident than the art deco inspired Neos on the 63rd floor. The design concept of Neos is summed up by three words: elegant, exclusive and exquisite, which WA International feels captures the energy of Dubai. The space oozes elegance and is sumptuously comfortable. It is inspired by the vibrant architecture and outrageous decadence of the 1920's."

Interior Design of the Year: Residential

Winner:Bishop Design Associates - Private Penthouse, Dubai Marina

Shortlist:Bishop Design Associates - Private Penthouse, KCA International - iPad, Nakheel - Jumeirah Islands Mansion.

In the words of the winner:"The entrance excites, stimulates and teases the visitor and is complemented beautifully by enhanced colour and material combinations. The space is a sophisticated yet glamorous mix of furniture and material. The glass onyx raised flooring contrasts with the wooden parquet in a delicate manner, creating the feeling of an artist's honeyglaze canvas. Textured velvet wallpapers, wool carpets, glossy resin floors and light sheer curtains add to the overall design aesthetic. A freestanding bathtub overlooking Dubai is the highlight of the bathroom. White ceramic tiles and contemporary lines contrast with wooden floors and marble walls create a clean and simplistic environment." Interior Design of the Year: Hotel

Winner:KCA International - Jumeirah Al Khor

Shortlist:KCA International - Jumeirah Al Khor, WA International - The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai, Studitalia Décor - The Westin Dubai.

In the words of the winner:"The overall design philosophy was one of ZEN, by incorporating the water experience from the exterior into the interior with a series of events, adding stylised planting and spaces both contemporary and architectural. We then added our layers of interlock." Interior Design of the Year: Hotel Business Centre

Winner:WA International - The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai

Shortlist:The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai, Moevenpick Hotel, Al Khobar, InterContinental Festival City, Dubai.

In the words of the winner: "The business centre at The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai offers residents and business travellers alike a stylish yet efficient space to satisfy all business needs. The décor is sophisticated and contemporary and showcases unique furniture pieces that are both chic and functional." Interior Design of the Year: Sustainable

Winner:Gensler - EFG Hermes offices, Cairo

Shortlist:Summertown International Offices, Jebel Ali Free Zone, Gensler - EFG Hermes offices, Cairo, Bishop Design Associates - Aquarius Gate.

In the words of the winner:"EFG Hermes was created to serve as a conduit for strategic thinking. The building, which is in the running for LEED certification and will be the first green building in Egypt, introduces vernacular architecture in a modern form, adhering to a strict building module that allows for maximum flexibility for a client with constantly changing needs.

The building exceeds the client's expectations in functionality, flexibility and aesthetics, and although it did not meet the stringent design criteria and required materials set by the rules of Smart Village, the committee was overwhelmed by the design and ultimately agreed to allow Gensler to construct the building as designed.

The four-storey, 16,000m2 new office headquarters for this global financial firm is located in Cairo, Egypt. Our client chose a site in Smart Village, a new office park designed to attract innovative technology companies as well as financial firms in a traditional Western-style office park setting.

This building incorporates open work space and offices for 920 people, a large open seating café, health club, conference center, executive wing and a spacious glass-enclosed atrium, all under one roof. The 4,000 m2 footprint is wrapped in a blue and white curtain wall with accents of traditional Middle Eastern stone. The building sits on a stone terrace, which incorporates reflecting pools and indigenous gardens.

Gensler introduced innovative design and materials, not previously seen in Cairo, to help promote the company's image as a Global Financial Firm. Gensler creatively introduced EFG's Branding Identity through the form of the architecture itself - essentially branding in three dimensions. The building was separated into two distinct forms connected by a large open atrium that serves as a collecting point and encourages employees to interact and communicate." Young Designer of the Year

Winner:Marie-Inez Botha, Etcetera Living (8 May 1980)

In the words of the winner:"In 2003 I came to Dubai on my way to travel the world, after completing my studies in interior design and sub-economical housing development at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. Meeting Lesley Zaal was the start of my career in interior design in Dubai and the end of my travels!

Our initial plan was to start a lifestyle boutique bringing together different design elements and showcasing several design styles in a villa - thus Etcetera Living was born. This soon snowballed into clients requesting us to do small projects in their villas, replicating similar styles to what we showcased. And from there we never looked back, taking on bigger projects - executive offices and the revamp of The Apartment and 360, for example. Today we have made our mark in the luxury interior design scene of the UAE.

Lesley and I started as a two man show and today we are a team of twelve. Therefore, in addition to being Lesley's senior design partner, I've always had to wear many hats, from sourcing and procurement of products, creating new product lines right through to marketing and HR.

I like to keep abreast of the latest design trends by attending trade shows across the world. I'm always on the lookout for inspiration. My designs, however, reflect a combination of present trends, different cultural influences, past design trends and art - all mixed together to create our Etcetera signature style, which I would describe as timeless, elegant and classic. My most recent project was a villa on the Palm.

The greatest challenge was to pinpoint what the client wanted, as the brief was classic-contemporary, but the client feared that there would be too much classic or too much contemporary. The result, in his words was ‘perfect'.

I couldn't imagine myself on any other career path. I don't see interior design as a job, but rather my lifestyle. I do love working in a small operation, as its more hands on, and I get to finish what I start. Nothing is more rewarding than wowing a client and having them and their family express how happy they are in their new home.

I only work on a maximum of three projects at a time, which allows me to focus on every client's needs, and therefore each project is like my baby. I get the most satisfaction, after the hard sweat and hair pulling of an installation, having an hour in the villa by myself, soaking up the atmosphere, before handing over to the client." Architecture Firm of the Year

Winner:Foster + Partners

Shortlist:Atkins, Benoy, Foster + Partners.

In the words of the winner:"The past year has been unprecedented for the practice's international reach. Foster + Partners is now working across five continents from its London base, with projects launched varying in scale from the smallest - a pen by the product design team for Diplomat - to the world's largest and most advanced airport building, the £1.8 billion Beijing International Airport Terminal 3. The number of international registered offices has grown significantly. We now have a presence in 23 cities worldwide, including Beijing, Hong Kong, Berlin, Istanbul, Madrid, Dublin and New York. Building on our pioneering work and consolidating a long-term commitment to future development in the region, HRH The Duke of York recently opened a new Foster + Partners office in Abu Dhabi.

Foster + Partners' projects in the UAE, led by senior partner Gerard Evenden, include the design for Aldar Central Markets, a reinterpretation of the traditional market place and dynamic new quarter for Abu Dhabi, as well as the design for the Abu Dhabi World Trade Center, part of the Al Raha Beach Development.

As a result of the Masdar Initiative, the Foster masterplan for Masdar will provide Abu Dhabi with a new sustainable city, a centre for new ideas for energy production and a sustainable urban blueprint for the future. Foster + Partners also won the international competition to design the new Sheikh al Zayed National Museum, an ambitious project to honour the legacy of the late ruler and founder of the nation. The practice has continued to work throughout the Middle East, developing an appreciation for the specific design challenges faced by the local climate and culture.

Work on the Living Wall mixed-use development set into an extraordinary carved-out rock shelf in Amman, Jordan commenced in 2007. In Dubai the 80-storey tower Index tower is due for completion next year, while further projects in Eurasia include Khan Shatyry Entertainment Centre in Astana, Kazakhstan."

The judges made note of the company's efforts in the sustainability space, particularly in the case of its futuristic Masdar City. In addition to showing a strong versatility as the designer of public spaces, Foster + Partners reconciles inherent aspects of the past with an exciting vision for the future, according to the panel." Interior Design Firm of the Year

Winner:KCA International

Shortlist:KCA International, Bishop Design Associates, WA International.

In the words of the winner:John Carolan, director of KCA International: "I think the judges appreciate the process of how we get to the end product. If you explain things clearly and graphically, everything else is easy. If you rush into designing something as soon as it pops into your head, people will eventually come back and say: "How did you do that?" And then you have to start explaining from the end, rather than the beginning. We tell the story before we do the design and then we do the design to fit the story. So there is a clear message, a reasoning behind it all. If you explain to a client why you are doing something it makes it more justifiable, in their eyes and in yours.

You can't just design something because you feel like it. There has to be a logic to it. Design is a logical process. It needs creativity but you have to hang on to that logic to keep your focus. If you are not focused the design loses its power.

There has to be a very solid thought process behind why you've ended up where you've ended up. And sometimes clients don't care... but that doesn't mean you shouldn't care.

I couldn't do what we do without everyone in the office, and they all come from the school of hard knocks. In essence, we have a good managerial structure, which makes us different from a lot of companies on the market.

Khuan Chew, design principal and founder of KCA International, is also doing some amazing things in Europe and the Far East, so I think the company is very solid and well placed to ride out the current storm.

I think we run this studio in a very low-key way. What I mean by that is we allow people to develop at their own pace. Everybody has a place in the greater scheme of things. I don't believe in shouting and screaming. We are not that kind of studio. We are achievers - but people work hard because of ownership, and because of their own drive. You can't make people work like that. They have to feel that and want it.''

The judges commented on the meticulous attention to detail and the quality of thinking displayed by the company's designs. They also commended KCA International on its excellent presentation skills and ability to clearly relay the depth of its design process. "There is something behind it, it has a narrative," they said.

Thoughtful, professional, stimulating, and able to instantly connect to the culture were some of the phrases used to describe KCA International's work. "They are setting the standards for others to follow," the judges maintained.

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