Meet the judges for 2018 CID Awards

Meet the judges for 2018 CID Awards

CID Awards 2018, CID Awards 2018 judges, Commercial Interior Design awards, Interior design, CID Awards

With excitement building up as we approach the highly-anticipated CID Awards 2018, to be held on September 19, 2018, at the Joharah Ballroom in the iconic Madinat Jumeirah, the judging panel for the awards has been appointed. To uphold our much valued principles of an objective and independent approach, the jury comprises distinguished personalities from the fields of design and architecture. With several years of experience behind them, the judges have been selected in light of their own merits and credentials in the industry.

The panel includes Giulio Cappellini, founder of the well-known Cappellini furniture brand; Khalid Shafar, Emirati product designer; Juan Roldan, assistant professor at the College of Architecture, Art and Design at the American University of Sharjah; Hani Asfour, associate dean of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation; Rawan Kashkoush, head of programming at Dubai Design Week; Richard Wagner; co-founder and managing partner at Wanders Wagner Architects; Maliha Nishat, director of interior design (global) at Marriott International MEA; Fouad Mirza, principal and design director at Tawazun Interior Design; Pierre Martin Dufresne, co-founder and design principal at U+A Architects; Esra Lemmens, author and curator; and David Lessard, co-founder and design director at H+A architecture firm.

In the following weeks, the judging panel will convene to review shortlisted entries across 18 categories for individuals, firms and projects, which are elevating the region’s design stature internationally.

The Commercial Interior Design editorial team would like to thank everyone who has entered this year’s awards, and we wish all the participants all the best.

For enquiries on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Laura Collinder at, and get in touch with Teri Dunstan at for table bookings.

Khalid Shafar, Product Designer

Born and bred in Dubai, Emirati product designer Khalid Shafar holds a degree in fine arts in interior design from American University of Dubai. Shafar, 38, also went on to gain specialisation in furniture and objects design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, UK, followed by another academic pursuit at the Centre for Fine Woodworking in Nelson, New Zealand.

In 2011, Shafar opened his own studio in Dubai followed by a showcase space in 2012, both of which are located in Ras Al Khor Industrial area. His approach to design encompasses his personal expression of form, movement, emotion, and in particular, “the tale” of objects. His notable international collaborations include special commissions and limited-edition releases with LASVIT, Tai Ping, Moissonnier, COS, Kartell, and the American Hardwood Export Council, as well as a joint project with the Campana Brothers. Shafar has also recently collaborated with Le Mobilier National et les Manufactures nationales des Gobelins, de Beauvais et de la Savonnerie on a site-specific art installation for the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum. In April, Shafar was appointed as the curator of an international design exhibition, showcasing works by up-and-coming Emirati creative talents, which made its debut during Milan Design Week and will be further presented at London Design Festival and Dubai Design Week later this year.

Shafar says: “I am honoured to join the esteemed judging panel once again for the 12th edition of CID Awards this year after my first involvement back in 2013. Since then, the awards has grown tremendously, and I am very keen to review this year’s submissions. Originality in ideas and concepts, best and innovative use of materials, and a unique, individual design identity are among the factors that I will look for in my reviews this year.”

Pierre Martin Dufresne, U+A Architects

Pierre Martin Dufresne is a Canadian RIBA- certified architect with over 20 years of experience in Asia and the Middle East. Upon graduating from the acclaimed Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism in Ottawa, Canada, Dufresne relocated in 1996 to Southeast Asia where he started his career on large-scale projects with HOK in Hong Kong, working on landmark projects such as Centrair Airport in Nagoya, Japan.

This was followed by a move to Singapore where Dufresne worked as a senior design architect with award-winning Kerry Hill Architects for the next three years, and lent his expertise to high-end hospitality projects such as GHM Hotels and Aman resorts.

He relocated to Dubai to work for the global firm RMJM, where he took on the challenging role of lead architect for the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre including the commission to conceptualise Capital Gate. Dufresene then co-founded his firm U+A Architects with fellow architect Pedram Rad.

“Each year, the CID Awards seems to outgrow its previous instalment, which is a wonderful attestation of the industry’s continued appreciation and valued contribution to the region’s economy. Having witnessed this staggering growth in the course of my 13 years here, I am particularly excited to see how this year’s work has yet again re-invented design and produced world class interiors. It is a great honour to take part in this year’s judging panel. I expect to see excellence in all entries, proving that our region is now recognised as the place to be for designers to experiment, explore their own ideas and take risks,” says Dufresne.

Giulio Cappellini, Founder, Cappellini

Giulio Cappellini was born in Milan in 1954, and barely needs an introduction to design industry professionals. In 1979, he graduated in architecture and, later, attended the School of Business Management at the Bocconi University of Milan.

In 1979, he joined the Cappellini S.p.A., dealing first with the image and then with the management. He oversees all Cappellini brands both as an art director, and in some cases, as a designer.

Many of the company’s furniture pieces are present in the permanent collections of iconic museums of contemporary art and design around the world.

Recently, he was elected by Time magazine as one of the 10 international trendsetters of fashion and design, and as an ambassador of Italian design in the world. He also teaches as a visiting professor in many faculties of design and architecture in the world, in addition to curating design exhibitions in collaboration with different institutions.

Cappellini comments:  “There is a great excitement in the Middle East’s design industry. At this year’s CID Awards, I expect to see innovative projects not only from an aesthetic point of view, but also in the use of new materials and textures. I say ‘yes’ to contemporary projects that are able to reflect the region’s culture and DNA.”

Rawan Kashkoush, Dubai Design Week

With a culturally rich Palestinian-Kuwaiti background and Lebanese nationality, Rawan Kashkoush is an interior architect dedicated to developing channels for the public to access design. She joined the Art Dubai Group (ADG) in 2015 as creative director of ‘Abwab’; a platform to empower design talent from the MENASA and as content director and spokesperson for a number of ADG’s design initiatives including Urban Commissions 2.0/3.0/4.0; the Design Days Dubai Public Programme; Audi Innovation Award; the UAE-focused exhibition ‘Wasl’ and was one of the judges for the Van Cleef & Arpels Emergent Designer Prize 2017. She is currently head of programming for Dubai Design Week and continues to curate Abwab.

Kashkoush’s academic history includes a BA in Interior Architecture from the Lebanese American University, and a Masters of Concept and Spatial Design from Domus Academy in Milan, with a focus on hybrid industries. Her commitment to community enrichment has seen her becoming a part of a socially inclusive art-residency project: An Urban Reflection – Amman, as well as a training programme in social entrepreneurship with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and Fondazione CRT, which resulted in the invitation to speak during the United Nations World Cities Day 2014 in support of human-centered urbanisation, at the UN Headquarters in New York City.

Kashkoush says: “Dubai is a city where careers are made, and having an annual record to set benchmarks is imperative. There simply isn’t a more frequently referenced mark of achievement in the region than the CID Awards for the successes of the designers, who are sculpting our interior spaces and elevating our design experiences.

“Interiors are beginning to present themselves like they are being created to be photographed instead of experienced, with less thought given to acoustics, textures, scents, and overall comfort. Though it may be a challenge to imagine the cocktail of elements when looking at submissions through images, one can assume the votes will be allocated to the projects that remind us that we are human, and that our bodies respond to the space as much as our eyes do.”

Richard Wagner, Wanders Wagner Architects

Berlin-born Richard Wagner holds degrees in Architecture and Environmental Sciences, having studied at several prestigious institutions around the world, including the Bauhaus, Germany; American University of Beirut, Lebanon; Southern California Institute of Architecture, US.

Having lived in the UAE since 2005, Wagner has previously worked at Dubai Properties and dxb.lab Architects, designing and managing projects of varying scales, from private villas to office buildings, exhibition halls and world-map-shaped islands.

Wagner is now the design director and managing partner of Dubai-based architecture firm Wanders Wagner, which he co-founded with business partner, Dominic Wanders, in 2013. With a diverse team of international architects, they are developing a diverse portfolio of projects, including new building designs and retrofits, infrastructure and marine architecture, temporary event spaces, interior and product design.

Recently, he has been experimenting with 3D printing, both in model scale and for real buildings using robotic technologies for the next generation of structures, a keen directive of the Dubai government.

Wagner comments: “In the past 12 years, CID Awards has brought forth many new design talents in the MENA region. It has established a lineage of reputable firms without whom we would not have reached such exquisite levels. I want to see this year’s entries not only continue in the footsteps of the successful design record of the CID Awards, but also surprise us with some daring and refreshingly new creative ideas worth celebrating.”

Maliha Nishat, Director of Interior Design, Marriott International

Highly experienced in the Middle East hospitality design sector, and as the director of global design team, Maliha Nishat overlooks projects across all Marriott brands for the MEA region from concept to completion. Prior to her role at Marriott, Nishat was design director of award winning global design firm design worldwide partnership, as well as having worked with Hirsch Bedner Associates’ international offices in Australia, Asia and the Middle East. Innovation, creativity, and energy are the cornerstones of Nishat’s success.

Nishat says: “It is almost that exciting time of the year again, the time that the entire design fraternity looks forward to coming together to celebrate the region’s best design. It is quite possibly the most anticipated industry event of the year, marking an annual celebration of design excellence. CID awards is extremely close to my heart. In 2015, I was lucky enough to be awarded the Best MENA Interior Designer of the Year at the Commercial Interior Design Awards. This was a launching pad as I started gaining exposure, which was crucial for someone who had only recently moved back to the UAE after being away for 10 years. Having grown up and been educated in the UAE, the award was a great honour to be able to represent our local educational institution.

“This year, my focus will be on innovative, fresh and distinctive design that is environmentally conscientious. I am looking forward to recognising the best of what this region has to offer in terms of design. This year, I am expecting to be wowed with some inspirational and cutting-edge, and even idiosyncratic design. Year after year, the CID Awards has outdone itself, highlighting the industry’s top talent. In addition to some of the past years’ regulars, I hope to see the emergence of young talent and firms contributing to the MENA design ecosystem and bringing with them an abundance of new ideas and approaches in the region.”

David Lessard, H+A Architects

Having held senior design and management positions for various internationally renowned design practices such as Perkins+Will, Asymptote Architecture and Rafael Vinoly Architects, David Lessard has actively contributed to the realisation of several award- winning buildings — from concept design through to completion. With a diverse range of experience spanning across the Middle East, Europe and United States, his portfolio includes notable works from acclaimed firms such as Perkins+Will, Asymptote Architecture and Rafael Vinoly Architects. Lessard has previously held a seat on the AIA Middle East Chapter Board of Directors. Having lived in the Middle East for over a decade, Lessard has been mentoring his studio to be mindful of a wider cultural spectrum.

“Having had the privilege to attend each of the CID Awards for the last five years, I have witnessed firsthand the progressive growth of design talent in the region, with submissions improving in depth, sophistication and quality year on year,” says Lessard. “The CID Awards not only celebrate the who’s who in the regional design community, but they also act as a barometer for where we stand relative to our peers in other parts of the world. As someone so emotionally connected to design in the region, I am looking forward to seeing CID continue to challenge pre-conceptions and transcend stereotypes of design in the Middle East.”

He says on his criteria: “For this year’s awards, I will be looking for projects that focus on the human dimension of space. I would like to see research-based projects that transcend visuals and demonstrate a clear design ethos. They should strive for sensitivity towards context, environment and culture. As an architect and interior designer, I do not believe in projects divided by ‘scope’ and always seek to inspire a balance between aesthetics, functionality and engineering in perfect harmony – giving equal importance to all disciplines of a project with emphasis on the seamless dialogue between architecture, interior and landscape design.”

Juan Roldan, American University of Sharjah

Spanish architect and designer, Juan Roldan, studied at the Madrid Architecture Technical School and the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. He has been a guest lecturer at the Politecnico di Milano in Italy and is a faculty member of the Master of Interior Design programme at the Salamanca University (MADin USAL) since 2011. Until 2013, he worked as a founding member of the architecture and interior design firm Marrero & Roldán, specialising in retail spaces, product and graphic design.

Currently, Roldan is the assistant professor of interior design at the College of Architecture, Art and Design at the American University of Sharjah. As an academic, his main design and research focus dwells on furniture design and the UAE’s ever-evolving urban landscape.

He shares: “I am thrilled to be a part of the CID Awards 2018 judging panel. It is a great opportunity to witness the trends of the industry within the region. The industry is in good shape, which in my opinion is shifting to higher standards of excellence year after year. It is constantly moving towards the right direction in terms of intellectual standards, design sensibilities, construction qualities and sustainability awareness.

“From my perspective as a professional and academic, I expect to see a good mix of bold ideas, young talent, risk, care for the construction and craft, imagination on how materials are deployed from a sustainable perspective, and of course, love for this amazing profession.”

Esra Lemmens, Author and Curator

A multi-faceted personality, Esra Lemmens has worked as a designer, art director, author and lecturer. She has recently been appointed as an ambassador to Association of Professional Interior Designers in the UAE, to represent Dubai at the upcoming International Federation of World Interior Architects (IFI) Congress 2019 to be held in the emirate.

Lemmens, who holds a degree in fine arts and design from the Netherlands, also runs a business consultancy through which she advises designers on positioning their firms for the regional market. She says: “Building on the legacy of the reputed CID Awards, I am looking forward to honouring the region’s best projects, but also the people behind them. The backbone of a competitive field such as interior design is talented individuals who have the unending quest to push boundaries and converge brilliant ideas in a way that maximises impact. It is the designers’ responsibility to tackle stereotypes and overturn cliches.”

Hani Asfour, Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI)

Hani Asfour is the associate dean of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI). Prior to joining DIDI, the MIT- and Harvard-trained architect was an adjunct faculty member at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, teaching in the departments of Architecture and Foundation Studies. His academic experience also includes teaching positions at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Northeastern University, American University of Beirut and American University of Sharjah.

Recently named as one of the region’s most influential 45 architects by Middle East Architect, Asfour was the founding president of the Beirut Creative Cluster, and is an advisor to Beirut Design Week.

He is also the founding partner of Polypod, an award-winning multidisciplinary collaborative design studio in Lebanon that offers integrated design services in strategy, architecture, interior design, branding, web design and development, graphics, and information design for local and international clients.

Asfour says: “The Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, like Commercial Interior Design, acknowledges and celebrates world class design talent in the region, which is why I am honoured to be a part of the judging panel for this year’s awards. What will really stand out to me is how candidates are working with and incorporating technological advances and innovation into their projects, to start building the future, today.”

Fouad Mirza, Tawazun Interior Design

Fouad Mirza is the founding principal and design director of Abu Dhabi-based Tawazun Interior Design firm. Born in Yemen, and raised in Cairo, he later moved to Los Angeles, California to study environmental design at Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design. He extended his education by studying Fine Arts at the Beaux Arts in Paris, France. With over two decades of experience, Mirza’s approach to design can be described as an amalgamation of his Middle Eastern roots, European sensibilities, and American business practices.

“I would like to thank the CID awards for selecting me again to be a part of their panel of judges for the 2018 CID Awards. The CID awards helps to promote the very best of design in the Middle East. It also provides a platform for designers based in the region to be showcased among international designers and proves that the GCC has world-class talent,” says Mirza.  “This year, I am looking forward to seeing more projects and entries coming from designers that are based in other emirates. I will be looking for innovation, use of unique materials and building techniques in this year’s nominations. I would also like to see a big shift in focus from designing to impress towards designing to create meaningful environments that enrich the user experience.”

Most Popular