Awards programs in the A+D industry (of which, let’s admit it, there are many) typically utilize the skills and perspectives of trained professionals working in the field to serve as judges. This process has obvious merit: it’s their livelihood to know good from bad.
Awards programs in the A+D industry are plentiful, but the ICFF Editors’ Awards always stand out. Photo via ICFF.
But there are a few award programs out there that utilize a different set of skills when selecting the judging panel: editors of design magazines. And there are good reasons for that approach, as well: who else is better suited to bring an experiential lens that is wide enough to include cross-sector comparisons and the deep well of design history. It has been said that editors are “the eyes of the world” and that feels true on both literal and figurative levels: these editors, after all, really have seen it all.
This is one of the things that make the Editors’ Awards at the New York City-based global design show, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), so prestigious. “The Editors’ Awards recognize a very high level of design excellence and creativity, which is why we always ask some of the industry’s most influential media and editorial professionals to serve as judges. Their measured and thoughtful consideration ensures we are truly recognizing the ‘best of the best’ in luxury design,” said Kevin O’Keefe, ICFF group show director and senior vice president of Emerald Expositions.
ICFF 2018 Editors’ Awards
And yours truly was asked to be one of the judges for this year’s event. Joining me were: Annie Block, deputy editor, Interior Design; Emma Harris, assistant editor, darc magazine; Pei-Ru Keh, New York editor, Wallpaper; Paul Makovsky, editor in chief, Contract; and Madeline O’Malley, associate market editor, Architectural Digest. Recognizing the best and most innovative design at ICFF was a near Herculean task: over 800 booths were considered for awards in 12 product categories: accessories; carpet/flooring; furniture collection; galleries/artists; kitchen and bath; lighting; outdoor furniture; school design; seating; and wallcoverings. In addition, we selected winners for the Emerging Designer and Best Booth categories.
I’ve moderated many judging panels, but to be honest being on one is way more fun: getting to knock brains and wits and perspectives with fellow journalists whose excogitation and behaviours are similar to mine is both challenging and refreshing. Often when we are ensconced in our bubbles we fall in love with certain things, but when thrown into the ring with other equally passionate and brilliant lovers of design, William Faulkner’s literary advice to “kill your darlings” takes on particular resonance. But as with all editing, the final results were, our group felt, spot on.