Tatler Design Awards 2021: The Highlights and Surprises
Our homes are havens that we enjoy returning to—and in the past year, the significance of our abodes have certainly been imbued with deeper meaning, as we seek safe sanctuaries in these unprecedented times.
While the Covid-19 pandemic may have brought upon upheaval and change, but it also presented an opportunity for firms to experiment, innovate and adapt to these circumstances. With that in mind, the Tatler Design Awards 2021 lauded the impressive achievements of the local design scene and the firms that brought to fruition a variety of residential and commercial projects despite the challenges of the past year.
This year, the 11 award categories were sponsored by Arova, Aureo Gallery, Boxx Euro, Gaggenau, Hafary, MM Galleri, Okamura, Roche Bobois and Spin.
(Related: Tatler Design Awards 2021: The Winners)
Broadcasted live from The Snug, a cosy members-only lounge area within Straits Clan, the fifth edition of the annual awards ceremony was held as a livestream event.
Dubbed “Local Roots”, the awards’ theme also paid tribute to homegrown talents and their innovative projects. Guests were treated to decadent canapés created by Chef Tim Meijers from Tim’s Fine Catering, which presented a modern twist on familiar local flavours. Accompanying the savoury appetisers were drinks prepared with Melati, Asia's first non-alcoholic aperitif from the Singapore brand.
This year, the jury panel featured the following design leaders: Steve Leung, founder of Steve Leung Design Group; Clint Nagata, founder and partner of Blink Design group; British interior designer Katharine Pooley who helms her eponymous design studio; Teo Su Seam, partner of LTW Designworks; Erwin Viray, head of architecture and sustainable design at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD); Sabrina Long, dean of the School of Art and Design at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, as well as executive director of the DesignSingapore Council Mark Wee.
(Related: Tatler Design Awards 2021: Introducing The Jury Panel)
In a keynote speech conducted on behalf of the jury panel, Wee shared his thoughts on the future of design, as well as the next generation of architects and designers in Singapore.
“In my role as the head of the DesignSingapore Council, I often get asked: What is Singapore design? I could rationalise that it is an evolving one that finds expression from our multicultural and multi-racial society, where there is no one language due to our diversity, but a rojak of expression with an Asian tropical sensibility,” says Wee. “This year’s award theme of 'local roots' is so apt, in its season to invest in nurturing new ideas that could yield a harvest later.”
Notable achievements of the night include the Best Innovation accolade, awarded to the New State Courts Complex, designed in collaboration by Serie + Multiply Consultants alongside principal consultant and architect CPG Consultants. Design Intervention clinched the Best Penthouse award for a stunning apartment crafted in Bangkok, while Designworx Interior Consultant impressed both the jury panel and the readers to win the Best Show Unit (Reader’s Choice).
This year, the awards event also unveiled a new category, entitled Designers on the Rise. Sponsored by local laminate brand Arova, the Designers on the Rise category recognises the achievements of young design firms, led by Singapore-based talents with years of experience. The firms nominated for this category are: ArchLuxe, Quod Architects and Sujonohun.
(Related: Tatler Design Awards 2021: The Winners)
“This award cements us to be the next player in the industry, and I hope this also inspires a lot of young designers and firms out there to be bolder and more daring in achieving your dreams and aspirations,” says Sujono Lim, co-founder of Sujonohun, one of the three nominees for the new Designers on the Rise category. “We hope that the local (designers) industries are going to get even better, we hope that the next generation will be able to rise up to the challenges (the future will bring). Thank you Tatler Homes.”
(Related: Tatler Design Awards 2021: 3 Emerging Singapore Design Firms to Watch)
Before the final categories were presented, the evening also featured a virtual panel discussion that was conducted with jury members based in Singapore and abroad. Moderated by Tatler Asia Homes and Travel editorial director Kissa Castañeda and Hong Xinying, the managing editor of Tatler Homes Singapore, the topic of discussion was focused on the importance of sustainable design.
“We’ve always encouraged sustainable design for the last 40 years in our design practice. All our projects are global, so we have to research and source for local materials to try to see how to construct them,” says Teo Su Seam, partner of LTW Designworks. “Recently, we’ve also noticed that a lot of the five-star luxury brands have embraced sustainability and understand that it’s not necessary to use exotic or expensive materials. I think what’s more important is showing a timeless and well-detailed design, while also knowing how to use local materials to create beautiful designs.”
British interior designer Katharine Pooley concurs. “I think this time more than ever, it’s critical to be sustainable,” says Pooley. The notable British interior designer lists several eco-friendly materials and considerations to turn to when designing: faux leather, faux shagreen, organic fabrics, veneers, graphene stone paint, pineapple leather, natural fibers like wool, and even carpets made from recyclable bottles.
The growing popularity of biophilic designs was also a topic of conversation. A design philosophy that embraces greenery and elements of nature, elements of biophilic design are increasingly spotted in projects around the world.
“I think biophilic design is getting very welcomed and popular,” says Steve Leung, the eponymous founder of the Hong Kong-headquartered firm. “With no (chances of) traveling overseas, a lot of people in Hong Kong (are) visiting and falling in love with the countryside; they now know they need to live with nature. That’s why a lot of people are thinking about having more natural lighting and ventilation—they don’t turn on the air-conditioning as much as they did in the past. They have indoor plants, outdoor plants, (plants) on the balcony, in the garden; I think people now realise that it’s important to live together with nature.”
Often including elements of biophilic design in their work, Blink Design Group doesn’t view the nature-based ethos as just a trend but a phenomenon set to stay. “For us, the idea of biophilic design has really existed as long as our practice has been around,” says Clint Nagata, founder and creative partner of Blink Design Group. “We try to embrace the idea of nature in all aspects of our projects, whether it’s through the materiality, or through the feeling of the space we create. Whether the projects are here in Asia, or located in the Middle East or the US, it’s something that I think is almost natural as humans. We desire to go outside to nature, I think even more so during the pandemic.”
“Design can really solve real-world challenges and can be used to solve unmet needs in society,” says Wee. “Designers are really in the best position to do that. They are perfect candidates to be able to create solutions for the future. There’s been a growing awareness in the design community for more inclusive design, and designers are actually increasingly designing for the less-abled and disadvantaged local community.”
Viray agrees, revealing that students at SUTD are also spearheading social projects for the community. “There is this part that we call social architecture, where we work with communities in Singapore to improve the public spaces in Singapore using data. Overseas, we also have a project sponsored by CapitaLand, (where the) students work with young children in Vietnam to build a kindergarten together. I think these are opportunities to expose the students to what’s happening in Singapore and around the world, as well as (show them) how we can contribute to making a better world.”
While crafting a curated experience true to its locally-influenced theme, the Tatler Homes Singapore editorial team also surprised the winners with visits to their offices to record their acceptance speech.
“For each project, we always strive to create a design that is functional, aesthetically timeless and well-executed within the clients’ given budget,” says Terri Tan, the design director at Designworx Interior Consultant, commenting on the firm’s win in the Best Show Unit category. “Because to us, the end users’ experience is what defines good design.”
“Good design needs to create an experience,” adds Jeremy Tay, director and co-founder of Prestige Global Designs, who won the Best Living Room (Reader’s Choice) award for their richly layered design. “In today’s context, experiential design is more important than ever. It helps people to connect emotionally with the space.”
“Thank you for recognising that we put our heart and soul into the design work that we do,” says co-founder of Foma Architects Tan Chun Hao, whose firm received the Best Tropical Concept accolade.
For Architology Interiors, the firm that clinched the award for Best Bespoke Concept, the honour was an acknowledgment of their dedication to their craft. “For us, every project is a challenge, so our day-to-day work is about taking on different challenges. We’re just glad that the hard work is being recognised,” says co-founder Bu Shu Kun.
Watch the 2021 edition of the Tatler Design Awards in the video below.
You can also view segments of the awards livestream in this playlist on our YouTube channel.
02.39-07.06 Opening speech by the Tatler Homes Singapore editorial team
07.07-12.41 Keynote speech by Mark Wee, Executive Director of DesignSingapore Council and jury member of the Tatler Design Awards 2021
12.42-20.43 Awards announcement segment one:
- Best Architectural Concept sponsored by Hafary
- Best Bespoke Concept sponsored by MM Galleri
- Best Penthouse sponsored by Gaggenau
- Best Tropical Concept sponsored by Spin
- Best Use of Art sponsored by Aureo Gallery
- Best Innovation sponsored by Okamura
20.44-52.30 Virtual Talk: Designing for Tomorrow
52.31-58.55 Awards announcement segment two:
- Designers on the Rise
- Best Use of Colour (Readers’ Choice) sponsored by Roche Bobois
- Best Living Room (Readers’ Choice) sponsored by Boxx Euro
- Best Luxury Concept (Readers’ Choice) sponsored by Gaggenau
- Best Show Unit (Readers’ Choice) sponsored by Hafary
- Photography Benny Loh
- Videography Ebenex
- Video Editor Nicola Ng
- Hair Dollei Seah and Zhou Aiyi of The Makeup Entourage
- Make-Up Dollei Seah and Zhou Aiyi of The Makeup Entourage