With the highly anticipated 12th edition of the CID Awards due to take place on 19 September, 2018, the recipients of the 2017 awards reveal how winning one of the coveted prizes has proven to be a game-changer for their businesses.
GILLIAN BLAIR, interior designer, Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ)
Winner of the Young Interior Designer of the Year
BUILDING NEW RELATIONSHIPS
We have had the privilege of introducing a large, internationally acclaimed name to the region, in the form of one of the company’s biggest current hotel projects, which I have been working on since winning the award. This will be a significant statement for GAJ, and we can’t wait to see it in the market once it is completed.
I am also working on a residential project and building new relationships with a number of reputable local developers.
GIVING VOICE TO NEW TALENT
As a young designer, the awards have given me a platform to express my opinion on various subjects and about design-related events happening in the region. Being able to contribute to the industry gives a voice to young designers and adds a new, diverse perspective, which is not always captured or considered.
INTERACTING WITH CONTEMPORARIES
The CID Awards are a recognition of the individual and, as a young designer, it was good for me to meet colleagues and forge new relationships with other young designers in the same position as me in the industry.
ACHIEVING A NEW MILESTONE
Just to get shortlisted in the category was incredible, and I was very proud of it. But to actually win the award was amazing. It was definitely a milestone in my career so far.
TALENT-SPOTTING AT THE AWARDS
For me, it is about seeing the competing design practices together in one room, celebrating another full year of innovation, hard work, and achievements. There is a huge pool of design talent in this region that we don’t often get to see until events such as the CID Awards.
SHOWCASING INDIVIDUAL STYLE
You have to remember that your nomination submission is a celebration of you. Decide what you want your submission to say about you as an individual, and know exactly what you are trying to express to the judges. Be distinctive. The judges are looking for someone who stands out, so make sure your submission showcases your talent and your individual style.
PALLAVI DEAN, founder and design director, Pallavi Dean Interiors
Winner of Interior Design Boutique Firm of the Year
NEW PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE
The Dubai office for US PR firm Edelman is going to site in a week or two, and it promises to be spectacular. We got highly commended last year for Edelman’s Abu Dhabi office and are hoping to go one better in 2018.
In terms of hospitality, our first restaurant opened in Sharjah last year, and the second is on site. Al Rawi will be a new café-library-bookstore concept in a stunning location on Sharjah corniche – I can’t wait to sit there with a latte, reading while overlooking the water.
Our latest education project is confidential at the moment, but we think it’ll be ground-breaking when it opens this spring.
BEING RECOGNISED BY PEERS
Winning an award like Boutique Design Firm of the Year puts you on more radars, and makes your ‘blip’ a little bigger and brighter. It’d be interesting to know what clients really think, but based on the feedback we’ve had, it has definitely elevated the status of the company. We’re getting more and bigger requests for proposals from new clients that we had no previous history with. That was happening already, but it’s accelerated since the awards.
MOST MEMORABLE PART OF THE AWARDS
The look of delight on the faces of the team. People walk into the office now with their chins just a fraction higher. We knew we were doing great work, but there’s no question that winning an award gives everyone a boost – it’s great to have that third-party recognition.
HIGH STAKES AND TOUGH COMPETITION
Before and during the awards, I was nervous. Afterwards, though, it was just elation and relief.
The CID Awards’ greatest strengths – its popularity and the fact that the awards are so coveted – is the biggest drawback for us. We know that the awards are genuinely based on merit – it’s not about who you know or how much you’ve spent on advertising. It’s your work being judged impartially by your peers. And it’s massive – there were around 1,000 people attending the ceremony. While that’s wonderful, it also means that the stakes are extremely high.
I really wanted the Boutique Firm of the Year award in 2017, and I would have been disappointed not to win. Objectively, I know the competition is super tough in this category, so it would have been no disgrace to lose out to one of the other excellent boutique design firms on the shortlist. But I was so happy to have that piece of crystal with me on the back seat of my ride on my way back home.
INDUSTRY NETWORKING AND CAMARADERIE
I get really excited by the shortlisted projects when they’re announced. For me, that’s almost as exciting as the awards themselves. Often the margin between winning and making the shortlist are wafer thin, so I don’t just focus on the winners.
There’s also the personal aspect of it, of course. It’s a small industry, so we’re always fascinated to know what the competition is up to. By and large, we get on pretty well with others in the industry, but we also compete hard.
ADVICE FOR FIRST-TIME NOMINEES
Firstly, do it. When you’re starting out, the recognition an award gives you is priceless. Just being shortlisted is something you can really milk, especially on social media.
Secondly, do it well. I’ve been on judging panels for many awards, including the CID Awards, and presentation matters. Invest in great photography for all your projects; you can get a good freelance photographer for just a few thousand dirhams. While that can seem a lot if you’re new, or churning out projects, it’s always worth it.
Most importantly, tell a story. Every design should begin with a strong narrative – it’s very hard to post-rationalise one afterwards, when writing the awards entry. And last but not least, go for quantity as well as quality. Sometimes we have a real sense of what makes an award-winning entry, but not always. In the past, we’ve won awards for things that we thought were just OK – we had been 50:50 about even entering – but for some reason it resonated with the judges and won.
PAUL BISHOP, owner and founder Bishop Design LLC
Winner of Interior Design of the Year: Bars & Clubs – Boa Lounge and Club
Since last September, the studio has been immersed in extensive projects ranging from local casual dining venues through to signature restaurants in London and Paris, as well as unique and off-the-wall hotel concepts. We also took our first steps towards our new venture of rebranding.
With the new company logo being released back in January as part of our “it’s still us campaign”, we are now encompassed within our new ideologies, and are excited to start applying these into all aspects of design this year. We’re also excited about showcasing our diverse work at the 2018 CID Awards.
RECOGNITION AND NEW ASPIRATIONS
Our winning project in the Interior Design of the Year in the bars and clubs category was a first of its kind here at Bishop Design LLC, so it was a truly memorable night and important recognition for us.
To be recognised in a new sector, beyond those for which we have built a name over the last 14 years, is a huge honour and, as such, we will continue to integrate our extensive skills in all sectors, including hospitality, commercial, food and beverage, public spaces, retail and hotels, with more incentive and drive, as well as new aspirations.
CELEBRATING HARD WORK
Being able to celebrate with the team at the awards is my favourite part of the event. With the busy day-to-day running of the studio, it is rare that we take time for ourselves as a group to unwind and celebrate everyone’s hard work – from the design team and interns through to management and administration.
These awards make that possible, and always offer a fun and relaxed environment away from the office where we can laugh and celebrate together.
NOMINATIONS AND MIXED EMOTIONS
After the 2016 CID Awards, we were anxious to see what would happen in 2017. We became much more aware of the competition, so we knew we had to raise our game and our determination the following year, if we wanted to be in with a chance of winning. We put in more work and effort into our submissions than ever before, so the nomination process was a nerve-wracking one.
When the finalists were announced, we were honoured to have seven projects in the running across the bars and clubs section, restaurant and concept categories, as well as being up for Boutique Interior Design Firm of the Year, and my personal shortlisting for the Interior Designer of the Year category.
The time leading up to the awards ceremony always brings with it mixed emotions. That nervous feeling in your stomach is not only for your own projects, but also for those of your peers within the industry.
Although we are all technically competing to be the best, on these types of awards nights, we come together as one to enjoy and celebrate the works of our contemporaries, so the nights always see a mixed array of anxiousness and laughter. My state of mind is always a combination of all of these feelings, but one thing is for certain: I am always proud to attend these awards ceremonies.
No matter what the outcome is, it is a great achievement for my own – and the company’s – hard work to be recognised on a regional level, and I will forever remain humble about this opportunity.
NEW TALENT AND MEASURING PROGRESS
There has already been a higher number of new dining venues opening this year, so I am anticipating that a lot of diverse and original dining concepts will be nominated.
We also noticed during the 2017 awards that a lot of young and upcoming interior designers are making a name for themselves within the industry, so it will be interesting to see how far they’ve all come since last year.
We have made a significant migration into wider sectors already, so we await the 2018 CID Awards with much anticipation.
WHY NOMINATIONS MATTER
The CID awards have been a regionally celebrated occasion for the past 11 years, and have acquired a reputation for being a sought-after award, so I would highly recommend anyone in the industry that might be considering sending in their nominations to definitely do so.
It’s also vital to us as designers, no matter how long we may have been in our current positions, to celebrate and share our work, and to be recognised across the region.
JONATHAN ASHMORE, founder and director of Anarchitect
Winner of Interior Design of the Year: Retail – Rossano Ferretti Hairspa, and Interior Design of the Year: Outdoor – El Chiringuito Ibiza.Dubai
NEW PROJECTS IN THE WORKS
Since winning the awards, we have continued to cultivate a multicultural team of talented individuals within our practice. We have solidified our contextually responsive, design-led aesthetic and have some very exciting new projects in the pipeline.
Due to open later this year is the Fossil Rock Desert Resort and Spa, as well as other international projects. It’s been great to have the creative reign to introduce new contemporary interventions into two existing historic UAE structures, as well as build an entirely new and separate salt water spa building. We’re also working on a peninsula cliff-top private residential project in Sri Lanka and a boutique hotel in the tropics.
RECOGNITION BRINGS NEW OPPORTUNITIES
As a boutique practice, having our work recognised by the CID Awards is a great accomplishment. We are proud of both winning projects and the recognition, particularly for the Rossano Ferretti project, which has enabled us to continue proposing repurposed architecture as an opportunity and viable option for Dubai, especially within the Jumeirah area.
ON BEING UNDERSTOOD AND PRAISED BY PEERS
Judges praised our design for the Rossano Ferretti Hairspa as ‘elegant, brave and above all else, different’, a description which nicely sums up our desired design aesthetic – we were grateful that our work was translated and understood. We were also thrilled to win the inaugural Outdoor Design of the Year category for El Chiringuito Ibiza.Dubai. But above all, it is great to share the evening with our accomplished peers.
SUSTAINING A SUCCESSFUL TRACK RECORD
Anarchitect had previously been shortlisted in several CID Awards categories and won Residential Project of the Year at the 2014 awards, so we were mostly very excited to return in 2017, and see if we would top our previous successes. We were, naturally, delighted when we did.
REGIONAL INDUSTRY EVOLUTION
We look forward to seeing how our peers have continued to progress and challenge the status quo over the past year, which links back to the rate of industry growth.
ON WHY SMALL, BOUTIQUE FIRMS SHOULD ENTER THE FRAY
Our advice would be to start entering awards even as a relatively new and small practice. Our firm was founded in 2013, but we began entering and winning awards in 2014, earning industry recognition very early on.
LULIE FISHER, executive director and founder, Lulie Fisher Design Studio
Winner of the Best Interior Design Concept of the Year and Behind the Scenes Award
NEW ADDITIONS TO PORTFOLIO SINCE THE AWARDS
We have been lucky enough to have been awarded a host of new projects since winning the award for best concept, but dearest to our heart was the project’s completion. The award-winning concept Manarat Al Saadiyat has been incredibly well-received and has brought a lot of interest to our fledgling studio.
In addition, we have opened a new sixth-form hub for Dubai English Speaking College, and it has been gratifying to see how much the students and staff are enjoying using it.
Other really exciting projects that we have been awarded and are progressing the design of since the awards include a flagship Novotel Resort on the Palm Jumeirah, a luxury residential development in Zanzibar and Studio Republik, the exciting new brand extension for Fit Republik.
ADDING VALUE TO WORK THROUGH AWARDS
Winning the award has been really useful in terms of marketing and publicity. The CID Awards are renowned in the industry and are well publicised. I have been quite publicity shy until now, and I suppose I could say that my mind has been opened to the value of entering such awards.
FAVOURITE MOMENT OF THE AWARDS NIGHT
My favourite part about last year’s event was winning our awards, for sure. It would be wonderful to see as big a turn out as in 2017 and as many friends and familiar faces.
NEVER TOO YOUNG TO ENTER NOMINATIONS
Our studio was only formed eight months prior to the entry deadline for the 2017 awards, and we had no completed projects at that time so we were only able to enter for three categories.
We thought it was a long shot that we could win in any category, and were therefore delighted to be first shortlisted and then to win in two out of three of them.
STORY-TELLING MATTERS IN NOMINATIONS
Use lovely words to accompany the images while submitting your nominations. The storytelling is an important factor.
JENNIE BINCHY, design director, Binchy and Binchy Architecture
Winner of the Interior Design of the Year: Food and Beverage – Menagerie
BUILDING ON THE REPUTATION
We have been busy since the CID Awards 2017 – we have finally built our website, but mostly, we’ve been busy with projects. We are keen to build on our reputation that the CID Award has helped us to achieve. We are currently working on redefining community living for two high-rise residences, and we are designing an aviation training centre, a large police training centre, and an art gallery refurbishment and extension.
GAINING GENUINE VALIDATION
We are a boutique office and still relatively new in the industry. It would have taken intense business development and marketing to achieve the kind of publicity, acclaim and validation which we’ve received through winning the award and we are really grateful for that.
A RARE CHANCE TO LET YOUR HAIR DOWN
My favourite part of the awards ceremony is seeing all the hard work that has gone in to the year’s projects. We are often ‘heads down’ all year, so it is a great time to celebrate.
ON BEING UP AGAINST THE BEST
It’s a great success to be nominated, but when I saw the shortlist, I thought our story would end there. We were really busy during the nomination process, so we did not think about it too much. It really was a fantastic surprise on the night.
The CID Awards set a benchmark for design excellence in the region, year upon year, and I think clients are becoming more willing to push the boundaries and take risks, so I am looking forward to seeing innovative projects and quality designs with fine detailing.
ADVICE FOR CONTEMPORARIES NEW TO THE EVENT
I would certainly advise new nominees to tell the story behind their designs, and explain the narrative that led to the type of design language and rationale that was used in their projects.