Nine members of our January jury joined Frame director Robert Thiemann during a Live Judging Session to share their commentary on the winning project and four honourable mentions. Here are four important industry lessons they established, touching on everything from creating a memorable mood and respecting the environment to fostering a sense of community and turning negatives into positives.

Leave an impression by building atmosphere

One of the honourable mentions, W Hotel Ibiza by Baranowitz + Kronenberg, was praised for its high marks for functionality and creativity, scoring 7.8 total in the category of Hotel. The designers renovated an existing 1980s property on the Spanish island, transforming it into a 14,000-sq-m brand location for the global hospitality company. Alia El Tanani, cofounder and vice president of Living In Interiors, called the use of colour throughout outstanding, saying that the design elements contributed to creating an environment ‘in line with the essence of W Hotels’. ‘They certainly did an amazing job inside and outside, specifically in creating this very festive, very relaxing atmosphere.’ 

The Baranowitz + Kronenberg-designed space for W Hotel's Ibiza post caught the attention of the jury for many reasons – from the use of colour and materials to the layout of the impressive renovation (the location was formerly a beachfront Balearic structure). Photo: Courtesy of W Hotels

With Voisin Organique Various Associates conceptualized a space that would evoke the sense of ‘having a picnic in a valley’, creating an ambient mood through the use of refined materials and strategic lighting. Photo: Shao Feng

Daisuke Nagamoto, assistant professor at National Taiwan Normal University, believes that the work places emphasis on the local context, especially since a former structure was utilized: ‘I think this contributes to a sustainable point-of-view of W Hotels as a brand.’ ‘This is a place we would remember,’ continued Elena Apiou, head of design at Aparthotels Adagio, who celebrated the agora-like space in the middle of the property. ‘It’s always a good sign when you remember things after having seen them – it means that the design was a success.’

This was also a recurrent praise with the highly commended Shenzhen restaurant Voisin Organique (total score of 7.86; Restaurant). According to Sanxia Zhou, who has dined at the Various Associates-designed space, ‘going inside is like an exploration’. ‘Shenzhen is a very busy city and everyone works very hard,’ the Sunshine PR founder and Frame China director explained. ‘This place is a very good environment to hide away for a few hours.’ ‘The use of colour literally makes me hungry,’ said Tom Edington, creative director of experiential at YourStudio London. ‘The space is absolutely perfect for its purpose. I think you could go there several times and still, every time, be surprised by all the design elements that they added.’

Snøhetta sees Powerhouse Telemark as a case study for how to not just meet classification systems such as BREEAM or LEED, but to surpass them. Photos: Ivar Kvaal

Treat the environment seriously

Powerhouse Telemark, an office building in Porsgrunn, Norway by Snøhetta, achieved a notably high mark of 8.72 for sustainability (total score of 7.82; Large Office). 'The thoughtfulness they gave to the shaping of the building – because it is shaped through responses to its local environment, to minimize and maximize energy efficiency – is really positive,’ commented Oliver Salway, founder of Softroom. ‘It’s nice to see architecture studios with a team working on interiors who are at the same level as the external envelope team. The whole thing really hangs together as a very cohesive whole. That is very impressive to me.’ ‘I really enjoy the geometric shape of the building and how it translates into the interior spaces, making each floor unique,’ concurred Barde + vanVoltt cofounder Valérie Boerma.

‘When we look at the furniture or the individual parts, it's not trying to make a huge statement,’  shared William Lim, CL3 Architects’ founder and managing director. ‘It’s in a way understated, but every move has been done to protect the environment. I think the statement that it's making is the responsibility to the environment architects have, and I think that's really the most stunning part about this project. It’s the kind that going forward is an inspiration for all designers: don’t try to make the unnecessary “wow” effect, but really treat and look at our environments seriously.’

Fostering community is the future of spatial design

With Foster + Partners’ Apple Aventura store in Miami, ‘The question I was asking myself was: “Is this about interior design? Or is it architecture or its retail design or making an interior for the products or community?”’ explained Wiebe Boonstra, founder and creative director at DUM. ‘I think in this case, it’s all three,’ he spoke of the Single-Brand Store (total score of 7.82). ‘The great thing about this project is – and I see this with many – is good commissioning. You have a good commissioner with deep pockets so to speak, and you get these wonderful interiors and buildings.’ Calling it a ‘contemporary temple for global technology', AIM Architecture principal architect Vincent de Graaf likes that the strategy goes beyond style or decoration.

Apple Aventura is designed to embody 'Miami's spirit of openness and generosity', with flowing spaces both interior and exterior. Photo: Nigel Young, courtesy of Foster + Partners

Robert Thiemann noted that community-oriented approach, asking Apiou if she thought ‘bringing people together’ was the future of retail design. ‘I think it's not only the future of retail design, but the future of spatial design,’ she responded. ‘There are big synergies existing today between hospitality and retail design, even the design of offices and hospitals.’ What struck her about Apple Aventura was the intention to ‘offer an experience to people further than just giving them the opportunity to buy something. This kind of experience is offered inside and outside, with the dialogue between the external and interior areas of the building.’

Turn negatives into net positives

This month’s winning space for Interiors of the Month saw plywood barricades transformed into a pandemic-responsive outdoor furniture system for the NYC members club NeueHouse. Designed by BVN, the Longhouse pop-up (total score of 7.98; Best Use of Material) offers work and dining spaces, metamorphizing into a small-scale entertainment spot by night. It is part of a larger initiative, Re-Ply, which will offer consumer adaptations of the system. El Tanani appreciated the ‘use of design, of an idea, of material to move forward’ in bad circumstances and that it ‘looks to the future, in a simple way’. Dubbing the project a ‘toolbox’ rather than an individual space, Boonstra feels that it ‘perfectly reflects the world’s state of mind on different levels.’ While he questioned the longevity of the material’s continued reuse, he called BVN’s intention a ‘laudable aim’.

BVN developed the elements of the six-part modular Longhouse set-up with CNC fabricators, which allowed them to ‘build and iterate products in very short timeframes in order to meet the demands of the reopening city'. Photos, including cover: Ernesto Roman

As a whole the jury named NeueHouse Longhouse the winner because of its positive implications at the social and environmental levels. ‘The approach is a great example of how the design influences the people who actually work at the NeueHouse,’ noted Boerma. ‘[The designers] want to improve their lives; they are bringing people together.’ ‘If a space can extend beyond its environment and have a positive effect on its neighbourhood, then, to me, that's a good project,’ Lim concluded.

Read more about NeueHouse Longhouse, and jury comments, here.

Watch the full Live Judging Session here: