Winners of The Great Indoors Award 2011

The Great Indoors Award is an international, biennial, interior design award and tonight the winners in the 2011 edition were announced in four categories, with a total prize money of 20.000 EUR.

With 260 entries from 37 countries the Great Indoors Awards have managed to attract the crème de la crème of the Interior Design around the world. The international jury consisted of Mr. Jan Boelen (director Z33, BE), Mr. Jurgen Bey (designer studio Makkink & Bey, NL), and Mr. Kozo Fujimoto (general manager communications, Hermès Japon, JP) and Mr. Ilya Oskolkov-Tsentsiper (president, Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design (RU) and Timo de Rijk (Professor Design Cultures, VU University Amsterdam (NL). The jury selected 20 nominees, four in each category.  The categories are Show & Sell, Relax & Consume, Concentrate & Collaborate en Serve & Facilitate.

Winner Category Show & Sell:
Aēsop Shops in Paris and Melbourne, designed by March Studio (AU)
Using simple materials to inventive effect, March Studio achieves three surprisingly different interiors in a trio of Aēsop stores (two in Paris and one in Melbourne). The jury sees the three stores ‘almost as a logical consequence of one powerful concept: the creation of a graphically developed space involving one natural material, one technique and the seamless incorporation of the product line’.

Winner Category Concentrate & Collaborate:
Tribal DDB Office in Amstelveen, designed by i29
For the open-plan office of a creative company in the Dutch municipality of Amstelveen, i29 opts for the exclusive use of grey felt. A traditional material with a long history and the perfect choice for this project, felt generates warmth, good acoustics and privacy.

Winner Category Relax and Consume:
The Merlion Hotel in Singapore, designed by Tatzu Nishi
For the Singapore Biennale, Tatzu Nishi wraps a tiny (but functional) temporary hotel around a famous city landmark: the Merlion statue. The jury praises his ability to ‘prompt viewers to look at the landmark and its urban environment in a new way’ and to ‘give observers of every rank and station the opportunity to “own” a piece of art for a brief moment in time’.

Winner Category Serve & Facilitate:
Power Toilets in Heerhugowaard, designed by Nezu Aymo Architects and Superflex
A nondescript grey box on a beach in Heerhugowaard contains public toilets modeled on those used by members of the United Nations Security Council in New York, as reconstructed from smuggled mobile-phone images. Praising the project’s dual identity, the jury calls it ‘a contemporary art installation that doubles as a functional toilet’.

Jury's reflections:
Notable conclusions drawn from the winning projects: the artist is back, and nothing is stronger than a consistently executed idea. In the case of art, two of the four winning projects are the work of artists. Both Tatzu Nishi and Superflex, the latter in collaboration with Nezu Aymo Architects, appropriated a fragment of public space and bent it to their will. Seen as such, either of the two projects can be evaluated as any other piece of art occupying a public site. But these artists go a step further. They create works of art that, first and foremost, cater to a basic human need – people can answer nature’s call in Superflex’s toilets and get a good night’s sleep in Tatzu Nishi’s hotel – and subsequently address fundamental issues such as access, use, the relationship between private and public, and the desire for surprise and alienation. These are art projects that operate on multiple levels. In the eyes of the jury, they are confirmation that designers can still learn from artists, particularly when it comes to the way in which a project is reinterpreted and is given new layers of meaning that far transcend established notions of identity, luxury and functionality.

The jury’s selection of the other two winners is based on the recognition of a strong idea and the consistency of its execution. In the office designed for Tribal DDB, i29 makes optimum use of the myriad properties of a single material: felt. March Studio does something similar in its shops for Aēsop by prioritizing each retail design’s reflection of the core values of the skincare brand. Both winners couple a lucid idea with uncompromising execution and unite artistry with functionality – with no appreciable budget. And that makes them both shining examples of their profession.

The Great Indoors are an initiative of FRAME magazine, Marres centre for contemporary culture and NAiM/Bureau Europa in Maastricht. The Great Indoors is generously supported by Provincie Limburg and Gemeente Maastricht and REcentre, centre for sustainable design.