With the 2019 Frame Awards jury, we went beyond gender representation

In our cover image, Spatial Awards - Retail jury member Anny Wang, the co-founder of Wang & Söderström

Amsterdam – The jury for the inaugural edition of our Frame Awards, while diverse in terms of industry range and the age of its members, lacked the balanced gender participation we were hoping for. At only a quarter of the panel being women, we fell short. Our main hurdle, we learned, would be to break the vicious cycle of visibility.

This year, for the second edition of the awards, we have nearly equal gender representation: that’s 21 men and 19 women in our jury panels, distributed among eight categories. With representatives coming from the design, tech and client sides hailing from Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania, their ages ranging from their mid-twenties to their sixties, we are confident these choices will bring about the informed debate we are looking for during the project selection process.

But then we wondered: Can a diverse team fully exercise their judgement if the projects submitted aren’t as widely representative of the world of architectural design? As we mentioned earlier, our main hurdle is to break the vicious cycle of visibility… and through our conversations with the jury members, we learned where the opportunity might lie.

One of our youngest female jury members told us that one of her drivers was not being afraid of showing her work to the world

You see, when we asked the male representatives about the most important ingredient in their careers, they often spoke of determination, hard work and even luck. The women, on the other hand, mostly mentioned self-confidence and empathy. A designer in particular, one of our youngest jury members, told us that one of her drivers was gathering the confidence that allowed her to not be afraid of showing her work to the world. Another, further down the line in her career, told us that the most important lesson in her professional life was to have ‘intuition, trust and respect… and then trusting and respecting intuition.’ The confidence gap, unfortunately, is too real. For men, it seems, the fact that work equals visibility is a given; for women, the belief that they deserve to be seen is as crucial to their success as the work they are producing.

So, to the designers who don’t necessarily have the profile of what the industry has come to see as a traditional awardee: consider the fact that you are considering this. If intuition and self-confidence are taken into account, that feeling should be an indication that it's something worth sharing.

Our jury members spoke of wanting to be surprised, challenged and emotionally charged by the proposals. We have faith in the capacity of the Frame Awards to expand and redefine what interior design can be, raising industry standards around the world. We will keep working on doing our part; we hope the design community meets us halfway.

The Frame Awards are open for submission until September 30. Take a look at our categories, which this year also include nods to sustainable, innovative and socially-minded projects, here

Billboard: LEEDLeaf - US Green Building Council
Billboard: LEEDLeaf - US Green Building Council

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