How did the judging panel come to the selection of the ten final designers?
The judges, David Clark, ex-editor of Vogue Living, David Harrison, design commentator and founder of designdaily.com.au and myself Karen McCartney, Editorial Director of Temple & Webster cast a wide net within the industry to surface names of young designers. It is tricky dealing with the term ‘emerging’ because there are lots of great Australian designers that we felt were beyond our criteria, in that they were well-established in their careers.
By the same token we wanted our selection, if possible, to be beyond the concept stage and to have real product that they had developed, to have an understanding of the marketplace and the commercial aspects of being a designer. We did have quite a bit of debate between us to hone the selection but all felt very pleased, and united, around the final list of designers.
How did the judges then select the designs each designer will submit?
None of the designers have a huge body of work so it wasn’t hard to work with them on what we could feature at the launch event, and exhibition, at The School in Rosebery. This was a curated experience with the designer’s work given a gallery-style treatment and it was gratifying to see the way in which all the work felt compatible and considered. In choosing what was for sale we worked with the designers in terms of what products had multiples and what could be made-to-order within a reasonable timeframe. We were also keen to show the range of work from smaller items that Temple & Webster customers could easily purchase to showcasing larger cabinetry pieces.
What has the selection experience revealed about the current Australian design landscape? Are there any themes or trends you can identify? Any areas Australian designers are weaker in?
There was an evident strength in lighting design with a range of beautifully resolved pieces across the board. Metals in general – and copper in particular the material du jour – with metallic finishes added to timber to give a layer of surface interest. There was a sense of a return to crafted objects matched by experimental form. I guess in Australia there is inevitably a weakness in the larger upholstered pieces which are expensive to develop and to manufacture.
What is the importance of having both a judging panel and the public involved in the final decision?
Our final judging panel brings in Amanda Talbot from Fairfax’s Sunday Life and since nomination we have had a chance to interview all the finalists, to deal with them on a commercial basis and gain a broader understanding of their approach. This has been very inspiring. Temple & Webster is not only a sales channel but also a marketing platform and our intention with this competition is to raise the awareness of Australian designers within our broad-based national audience. Voting is a great way to engage people and we have worked hard through social media to galvanise interest. The public voting statistics then become a key factor in the final judging process.
How has the second edition of the Temple & Webster Emerging Designer Award evolved from last year’s? How would Temple & Webster like to see the award develop in future?
It is interesting how things improve with practice! This year we have managed to ramp up the whole award on every level from the PR we achieve for the designers, our media partnership with Fairfax, the launch event where press could meet the designers and an enhanced sales event on Temple &Webster which brings the designer exposure and revenue.
This is one of Temple & Webster’s core annual events which allows us to support and build relationships with Australia’s best rising talent. We consider this a privilege and hope that with the right effort we can continue to develop the award to new heights. We would like to explore the notion of a TV series as we believe these designers have serious talent and their path to success is far from easy.
It is great that last year’s winner of the Emergng Designer award, Kate Stokes of Cocoflip, will be selling her new design, Puku, an ottoman on Temple & Webster in the near future. What goes around….
Temple & Webster, Australia’s leading members-only online shopping destination dedicated to the home, is celebrating the design, work and careers of 10 of the country’s most exciting emerging furniture and interiors product designers with the return of the Temple & Webster Emerging Designer Award in 2014.
Australians with a passion for interiors and beautiful homewares will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite emerging designers until Monday 12th May at templeandwebster.com.au/eda.
Temple & Webster