SIX finalists have been shortlisted to take out honours at the inaugural Australian Furniture Design Awards, with the winner to be announced this week.
The awards - presented by Stylecraft and JamFactory - called on furniture designers, new and seasoned, from around the country, to create a piece that exudes originality and innovation for potential manufacture and national distribution.
JamFactory CEO Brian Parkes said the applications received had been of very high quality and number.
"There was such a healthy representation of breadth and it’s so exciting that the winning piece will be acquired by the Art Gallery of South Australia – a feature that attracted a lot of interest," says Parkes.
The award has received 150 entries from around the country.
Though Parkes is not a judge in the competition, he says he was blown away by the standard of entries, and could have chosen the winner from a pool of at least 30 pieces.
However, the distinguishing factor that narrowed a possible 30 finalists down to just six finalists was the element of originality.
“What the judges were looking for was innovation,” Parkes says.
“There were some really beautiful pieces and incredibly well-made prototypes, but they weren’t completely original or new ideas.”
Parkes says the award is intended to appeal to furniture designers of all experience levels.
“We’ve been very cautious not to define it as an ‘emerging designer award’ because we wanted a mix,” he says.
“Very often in various creative fields, the focus is on ‘emerging’ however we wanted it to be open to all, because based on our view at the JamFactory, innovative and original ideas can come from established designers too.
“The finalists’ work will be displayed in Stylecraft’s showrooms in each of the six capital cities which we hope will drive media attention and encourage both local involvement and interest in purchasing.”
Despite being held in South Australia, supported by two iconic South Australian companies and judged by three South Australian judges, there are no South Australian finalists – a factor Parkes says is saddening, but most likely a positive for the reputation of the award.
“I was disappointed there were no SA finalists, however it means no one can accuse us of bias!” he says.
Parkes adds that the lack of South Australian finalists is no representation of the state’s excellent talent pool of furniture designers.
“I think exposure through programs by this – whether you’re an applicant and the judges see your work, whether you’re a finalist and your work is exposed or whether you’re the winner and your work is realised – helps you to reach an influential audience and if you’re wanting to make a career in this field, that’s important.”
The judging panel consists of JamFactory creative director Jon Goulder, Stylecraft National Product and Brand Manager Tony Russell, Art Gallery of South Australia director Nick Mitzevich, ABC Radio National presenter Fenella Kernebone and Woods Bagot principal Rosina Di Maria.
The winner of the Australian furniture Design Awards will be announced this Friday at Stylecraft’s Adelaide showroom.