WAN Workspace Interiors Results
Thursday 22 Nov 2012


Welcome to the WAN Workspace Interiors Awards judging day results.

This year's jury panel brought together a group of influential and innovative thinkers from across the interior design industry. The jury was asked to judge entries on a number of factors, including design originality, innovation, sustainability and context. Participants were asked to demonstrate how their design addressed the key elements of the client brief, and to give specific examples of how the project has used design and / or materials to enhance the user experience, and how it integrates with its context and / or community.

The final long list of projects included entries from a wide variety of workspace interiors, from advertising and media studios, corporate offices to student workspaces / education hubs. Workspace interiors that displayed hierarchical planning were unfavoured, whereas interiors that encouraged a sense of community and engaged staff were praised. In terms of design, the usability of a workspace (its functionality and user-friendliness for its staff) was held to be as important, if not more so than the aesthetic appeal of the interior. The judges all shared the opinion that both functionality and stimulating visual design had to be present in a successful workspace project.

The analysis of the projects in relation to these factors, continued throughout the morning.

Headvertising by Corvin Cristian was described as a "harmonious and clever design" that uses mobile storage cupboards on wheels to create a flexible space that works around the staff. Set in the former Romanian Stock Exchange building, the "simple inserted interior amplifies the industrial heritage of the base building," wrote remote judge, Scott Walker. He continued,

"The design outcome reflects that a workspace can be flexible in design and yet visually strong in outcome."

The Microsoft HQ in Vienna by Innocad was favoured by Clive Wilkinson. The project saw the renovation of the 4,500m² Austrian headquarters completed in 14 months. The project implemented "a good use of colour throughout" and created a pleasant environment to work in through the "good use of a green wall."

Eneco HQ by Hofman Dujardin Architects used a very simple colour palette to create a sustainable white interior which was described as a "visually striking graphic language." The open plan space had a strong "focus on areas" with the "floor finishes [used] as a clever mechanism to distinguish zones within the building." - Scott Walker.

Charles Smith Wines by Olson Kundig caused quite a stir in the judging room as the industrial, user friendly interior was categorised by some as a retail space rather than a workspace per se. The project displayed "strong implementation and re-use of a building skills" said Daniel Herriott. Duncan Young noted a "nice use of Australian hardwood" throughout the interior that celebrated the ethos of the company. Furthermore, Scott Walker noted that "the utilitarian design mimics the production of wine making and its heritage as a 'hands on' industry."

However, the workspace itself was seen as more of a multi-use interior that served as a workspace for 14 staff, a retail outlet for the wine company and a customer tasting room. George Smith Wines was highly praised as an example of an unspecified multi-use space that "doesn't put things into boxes and that is what the future of design is "driving towards," said Neil Usher.

Some of the larger, corporate workspace designs strove to create engaging and quirky interiors for staff to enjoy. However, novel design features, such as slides, ping pong tables and even a climbing wall, provoked a discussion about the relevance and benefit of such features. "The time is over for playful, fun design," said Jonathan Clarke. "It's a very fine line between the need for an element of colour and trying to be different and knowing where to stop."

"It's like Christmas socks," said Neil Usher. "The novelty wears off by Boxing Day."

Some of the larger, corporate workspace designs strove to create engaging and quirky interiors for staff to enjoy. However, novel design features such as slides, ping pong tables and even a climbing wall, provoked a discussion about the relevance and benefit of such features.

Educational and community minded interior spaces, such as hubs and shared workspaces were seen as more productive and beneficial to the end user. The Coventry University Student Hub by Hawkins Brown was described by Daniel Herriott as "a good investment in people with good collaborative opportunities."

The project aptly illustrated the question "where does workspace begin and end" and was described as a "low key" interior where "young people can learn in an appropriate environment." For Jonathan Clarke this was an important project because it "plays on the idea of working and learning in different settings and what is quite interesting is that the way students are working in this hub environment will eventually be transferred into the world of work." In that sense the project was an example of a workspace interior that would influence a generation of workers.

Many of the workspaces entered into the award were the studios and workspaces of architects and designers themselves. In this category one project clearly stood out as being both innovative in its design, aesthetically pleasing and successful in terms of usability. The Architecture & Beyond Studio located in Gujarat, India attempts to create a lively and engaging work environment that is light and in line with its topographical surroundings. The judges described the interior as being a "dynamic" project with "some really amazing details" with notable "light transparency and indoor/ outdoor spaces" and highly commended it for its achievements.

Other projects that caught the judges' attention included Wave by Kris Lin Architecture in Hong Kong, which was noted for its "impressive detailing and good architectural style." The Herald & Times Weekly by Geyer was an Australian project that gained a good response, being described as "modern, crisp and cool."

Lend Lease by Woods Bagot was considered to be a "great achievement" as a design project with "warm and comforting ...break out areas."

Net-a-Porter by Studiofibre was seen as a very "elegant" project with "masculine" overtones. Alice Fung liked the merging of the distribution centres with the office workspace and noticed a "strong concept" running through the combined interiors of the Net-a-Porter group, which "clearly defined the brand." The project was admired for its stark monotone colour palette and shortlisted for the award.

The short list was hotly deliberated, and, as Alice Fung said, "the diversity of the projects entered raised some very interesting questions about what we consider to be a workspace, which has made the award interesting yet difficult to judge."

Eventually the judges agreed that George Patterson Y & R by Hassell was the clear winner. The design agency workspace is set within a former department store in the Australian city of Melbourne.

Neil Usher took an immediate liking to the project and commented,

"definitely... [there's] clutter, people, plants, paraphernalia and a distinct ability to be able to personalise your own space."

The other judges commented as follows:

"It's quite interesting if you look how regular the plan is." - Jonathan Clarke

"It is not overplayed at all and pays homage to peoples' individuality and their ability to personalise their own space. It works well in a mess which is what a lot of offices become very quickly. It is a well balanced, behaviour enabling environment." - Daniel Herriott

George Patterson Y & R by Hassell is the winner of the WAN Workspace Interiors Award 2012.

We would like to thank our esteemed panel of experts for their time and insight throughout the judging process. Every opportunity to incorporate their knowledge and suggestions will be taken in order to improve the judging process and make the WAN AWARDS a continued success.