If there is a topic in the design world that every designer unilaterally has an opinion on – its design contests. From my standpoint, I am a fan of contests where the goal of the contests falls in to one of two categories:
- Charitable – like the Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition, or
- Celebrates Design – which is the case of the Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Contest, something that I have been a part of for almost two years now.
We have been talking and looking at the role that kitchens play in today’s residential market, and examining how kitchens have evolved to reflect a more dynamic family environment. As one of the few spaces in our homes that some portion of everyday life takes place for every single member of our family, kitchens are quite literally taking their rightful place in the house and in our lives. Now, after almost a year and a half, we are going to start celebrating the winning entries from around the world, and look at the evolving trends and design considerations that are advancing the design of the most important room in our house.
I want to start with the winning student entry, which comes to us courtesy of Jackie Vargas, from Houston, Texas.
There are very simple guidelines for submitting a design in the student category. From the Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Contest Official Rules:
Projects must be completed by an individual student, not several students on a team project – no co-designers are permitted.
Student design challenge: Let your imagination be your guide in designing a functional and beautiful space for a hypothetical client as described in the most recent NKBA student design competition guidelines. Contestants are limited to a 400 square foot space with a budget of $200,000, including appliances and construction. Please provide interesting details about the family and any unique situations or design challenges encountered.
- Rendered kitchen must include all of the following:
- At least one full-size Sub-Zero® built-in or integrated refrigeration unit
- And at least one Wolf® cooking appliance as primary food preparation equipment. Ranges, rangetops, ovens and cooktops meet this requirement. Ventilation, microwave ovens and warming drawers do not.
- Floor plan reflecting NKBA planning guidelines using NKBA graphics and presentation standards fully dimensioned in 1/2″ scale.
- Wall elevations showing Sub-Zero® and Wolf® products using NKBA graphics and presentation standards fully dimensioned in 1/2″ scale.
- Perspective views of the kitchen that best show the Sub-Zero® and Wolf® products (can be in color).
- Color renderings that include descriptions of materials used in the design. Drawings must be clean, easy to understand and professionally presented.
The prize that the winning student entry receives is:
- $5,000 cash
- Up to $3,300 in promotional value
- Trip for two to Best of the Best Winners’ Summit & Gala
All this for celebrating kitchen design … this is my kind of contest!
There is a lot of work that goes in to this design process, but it isn’t anything that we aren’t used to creating. I have included almost all of the drawings that Jackie submitted with her winning entry – this is the level of information that is needed to fully articulate the story that Jackie prepared for her fictional clients. (a newly married professionals with a baby on the way, who live in an urban high-rise, who requested that their interiors “be transformed to evoke the charm and elegance of the French countryside.”
[almost all of these images can be clicked so that a larger image will open in a new window – hopefully it will allow you to read the drawings better]
Jackie learned of the Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Contest from her Portfolio class professor at The Art Institute of Houston and this was her first time to enter. While not a class assignment, Jackie decided to take on this contest in an effort to bolster her graduating portfolio. I can only imagine how happy she was to learn that she had won considering that her entry is an example of design for the sake of designing.
In the Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Contest, the student entries are allowed to set the physical parameters of the spaces they design – which sounds pretty ideal. In looking at the plan Jackie worked with, it didn’t seem as though the design created the space, but rather her design worked towards an existing space. As it turns out, this is an existing space that was from a class assignment several years prior that Jackie used as the template from which to work. Wondering why she would choose to place certain restrictions on herself, she gave a true designer’s answer:
“[Using an existing space] created greater challenges that required creative thinking and that’s the part of the design that thrills me the most … problem solving!”
If this looks like a lot of work, you’re right. Jackie told me that her student entry took ten intense and dedicated weeks to complete prior to her graduation in December 2014.
For inspiration, Jackie said that she looks to textiles, fashion, art, books, nature “… inspiration is everywhere and in everything, it only needs to be acknowledged.”
This is terrific advice for other young designers as finding the source for their own creative inspiration at times can be difficult. You only have to open yourself up to the possibilities and recognize that just about anything that you find interesting can be a source of inspiration. I’ve found that developing a narrative as part of the design process can help the overall design direction stay on point when you don’t have actual client direction in place.
The last image I’ll include from Jackie’s winning submission is her visioning board. A visioning board is a collage of images that can be used either as inspiration, or, to reflect the design direction and intent. This is the imagery that is included with the design submission to help set the mood and tone of the design and is fairly common practice during the design process – particularly on interiors projects.
On July 1st, we are going to get a look at all the regional winning entries for the “Designers’ Choice” award. This is an award which will allow industry professionals to go online and look at all the regional winners and vote for their favorite design. This will be from the professional category so you’ll be able to see photos of award-winning kitchens, created by some of the most talented designers in the world, and you will get the chance to crown the winner. I think allowing other design professionals to voice their opinion and recognize one of their peers for their design excellence is a terrific idea.
There’s a reason the Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Contest only happens every two years – there is a lot going on and even more to see. Over the next few months, we are going to be able to reveal all sorts of amazing things for you to see, including the global design award winners in September, so stay tuned!