With the design award season on the horizon, and the Gold Coast HIA awards night tonight (have you got your fingers crossed for us?!) – we thought it would be a great opportunity to sit down with Darren and chat about what judges really look for in design award entries?
As Darren has been on both the judges panel, and the entrants panel many many times over the last decade, he has a plethora of knowledge on what elements are critiqued the most, what makes for a winning entry and what not to do on your submissions. So hopefully this Q&A can serve as a helpful resource next time you’re entering your project into the next round of awards!
What does it mean to you when you get invited to be a part of a judging panel?
“It is a great honour. I have been in the industry for some time now and have been lucky enough to have won multiple awards myself individually and with my amazing team so I know how important these programs are to designers. The awards are a great way to earn recognition for your designs, renovation transformations and in our case – construction quality. So it’s safe to say I feel honoured when I’m chosen to be a part of the other side of things – the judging panel, as it recognises my skill and level of experience in the design field.” – Darren
What awards programs have you been a judge on so far?
“I’ve been a judge on multiple award programs so far, ranging from the KBDi and DIA here in Queensland and other local states, through to overseas panels at the NKBA over in New Zealand recently. It’s great to be a part of all of them as you get to see quite a range of designs, styles, documentation details and varied site contexts. I’ve also been a part of the Gotya Student Awards program which is a real treat, as I get to see the new talent emerging into the industry.” – Darren
What is the key criteria you think about first when judging an entry?
“Generally I begin by looking at how the documentation package supports the design outcome. With clear and detailed documentation comes a great end result! Showing that you truly understand how something is built such as the junctions, structures and material limitations is essential! So spend the extra time ensuring you have a strong documentation set to present. I do believe the level of our documentation sets here in the studio have aided us in winning many of the awards we have.” – Darren
What are your entry ‘must haves’?
“First things first – the design needs to have balance and not be over designed! The materials and colour palette also need to feel connected and not fight each other. For me, function and form are equally as important as each other so the design needs to be super functional from a practicality stand point, and then the aesthetics can follow. As mentioned earlier, the documentation package in the entry needs to be detailed, the brief and scope need to be clear, and the imagery of the finished design needs to be killer!” – Darren
What are some things to avoid in the entries?
“Not meeting all the tick boxes for the entry! I know how much time goes in behind the scenes preparing each project for entry, but that time in so worth it! Ensure you’ve got a variety of both before and after photos to help the judges understand the transformation, as well as a well written brief, scope and design statement to communicate the many layers which went into the design reasonings and outcome. Nicely laid out digital presentation boards also help in giving a visual aid – so don’t underestimate the details interpreted through digital communication!” – Darren
What has stuck out to you in the winning entries you’ve judged?
“Most of the winning entries have not only been beautifully balance designs but the design statement, specification and documentation package has been very professional and concise. The whole package really does matter so it’s worth investing the extra energy into ensuring you have a solid entry across all criteria. You’d hate to have a wonderful design, but then miss out because your specification was sloppy! ” – Darren
Any other tips when it comes to a successful entry?
“Thoroughness. Understand what the award entry requires and make sure you have covered off each and every item. Most award programs I have been involved in are a points based judging system, so if you don’t meet the requirements across all stages you will lose points and the possibility of not making it through to the final cut.” – Darren
Looking forward to letting you all know how we go at the Gold Coast HIA awards tonight!