A winning mix

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With Mixology18 only a month away, we thought it would be prudent to find out what a winning mix looks like. It would, in the majority of cases, be impossible for a team of judges to physically visit every project that entered an awards programme.

In most cases, the judges’ decision rests on the quality of information contained in the awards submission. Pulling together an award-winning presentation can be the difference that elevates the status of a project to new heights. Conveying the story of the design process and convincing the judges that yours is worth the acclaim isn’t easy to achieve – it takes careful planning, the best images, and tapping into that ‘special something’ that has successfully created the ultimate experience for the discerning traveller.

We’ve asked a panel of award judges to see what hospitality jurors look for in awards submissions in order to reveal what makes a particular hotel ‘award-winning’ worthy…



1 Benedict Wilhelm: Creative Director, Benedict Wilhelm Design
‘The first and most important tool to describe any project would have to be imagery. But, of course, it’s difficult to experience a living space through just images and some text. Quality of light, senses such as smell and touch, along with materiality are tricky to capture perfectly, so choosing the right combination between relevant shots and information to not only describe but sell these aspects is critical. It’s all about explaining the overall concept and how it’s been translated throughout the design. A complete design needs to include everything from layouts and details, right down to the choice of artwork — it needs to read as one and feel complete.
‘Context should always feature. Was the historical and cultural context part of the brief and the concept, and has this been addressed and included in any form? If yes, tell us how. I like to find evidence of local craftsman, architectural references, local art and furniture being included. When I stay somewhere I like these ideas to be reflected in the design.
‘Knowing the budget is key to understanding what the designers or architects were working with and how they have made use of resources. Does the design demonstrate quality? Even in a budget hotel, detailing is key to the aesthetics but also to demonstrating a creative edge. Clever detailing and considered design enhances the customer experience, making it stand out. It’s also worthwhile including a note about any challenges and restrictions the designers faced and how, through clever design solutions, these have been overcome.’

2 Simon Jackson: Design Consultant, sjjdc limited
‘The unfortunate reality is there’s never quite enough time to substantially review award submissions, so it’s often the seductive imagery that gains immediate attention. I, for one, am a stickler for digging deeper into each submission’s content. Understanding the requirements and strategic response plays more to my desire to grasp the solution to the problem given.
‘Interior design is in the top 4% of professions that can positively affect behaviour and impact business strategy. To me, telling the story is key, and including graphic content to assist the storytelling helps enormously. I love to see images of approach and methodology and early concept sketches that depict the thought process and development as ideas mature.
‘Hospitality design, we often say, is about creating dreams but should be much more than that…. what wide ranging impact did the design solution bring to developer, operator and staff, their processes and procedures, as well as the emotional impact to the people lucky enough to enjoy and fulfil their dreams?’

3 Caroline Cundall: Director, Interior Design – Europe, IHG
‘It’s important to convey the ambience and feel for the hotel from the guest point of view – from the entry experience and impact of their first impression, through to the style and comfort of the guestroom. Even from a design point of view, the functionality of the guestroom is important, and a well-considered room design will take ease of use into account as well as appearance and atmosphere.
‘For a presentation, I would initially look to understand the story behind the design – the thought process and key detailing that the designer has initiated into the schemes. An ideal presentation should show ambient images of an area at different times of the day as the mood and use of a space can change dramatically from morning to night. It is also good to see close up details of key design features to get a better understanding of the quality and finish.’

4 Maria Katsarou Vafiadis: Founder and Managing Director, MKV Design
‘The most difficult part in winning over a competition jury panel lies in giving them a full understanding of the project from a written and visual presentation without the authors physically being able to argue their case. Clearly, presentation is of paramount importance and should be executed in such a way that it does the project justice in terms of clarity, structure and, of course, visual impact and quality.
‘When I am asked to judge competitions myself, I always look above all for two things; firstly, the extraordinary, something that I have not seen before. This can be either a redesign or the design for a brand-new space but the point is that there should be something especially thoughtful and innovative – perhaps the unexpected use of certain materials or a spatial solution, for example.
‘But physical design and architectural features are not enough. I also look for a strong and coherent narrative. In hotel interiors, where one must create memorable experiences, I always look for the thread that unifies the design into a compelling story.’