The international jury, consisting of Jo Coenen, architect (NL), Dirk van den Heuvel, theoretician (NL), Anne Højgaard Jørgensen, Kvadrat head of design (DK), Anniina Koivu, design editor for Abitare magazine (IT), Joep van Lieshout, artist (NL), Giulio Ridolfo, colour specialist (IT) and chairmen Guus Beumer (director of Marres, Centre for Contemporary Culture and NaiM/Bureau Europa) and Robert Thiemann (editor-in-chief, FRAME magazine), met on October 23rd. The role of the chairpersons was explicitly defined as facilitative. Their task was to conduct the selection process as efficiently as possible. The ultimate choice was that of the jury members and not the chairmen.
The jury faced a difficult task, in that over 380 applicants from 40 countries had registered for the second edition of The Great Indoors Award 2009; a remarkable number considering the current economic crisis.
The initiators of The Great Indoors (FRAME magazine, Marres, Centre for Contemporary Culture and NaiM/Bureau Europa) framed the previous edition of the award as a look at the interior as our final utopia, a utopia that has since gone on to make its impact felt in the public space. This year, the organisation introduced the aspect of “Changing Ideals,” based on NAiM/Bureau Europa’s exhibition of the same name. This concept is based on the assumption that changing ideals in society have direct repercussions on the interior. The organisation firmly believes that the current economic crisis would affect the jury’s perspective, including on the submissions produced before the crisis.
The jury met to consider the choice of five nominees per category and five winners. The jury was motivated by the confrontation with the full magnitude of all submissions, allowing them to come face-to-face with both internationally famous names and undiscovered talent.
After a first run-through of the total group of submissions, the jury decided to look for any guiding principles that could be identified across all submissions. Very quickly, it became clear that there was no way to formulate an overriding perspective. Although certain premises such as sustainability, recycling, temporality and co-authorship, recur in many submissions, an all-encompassing order within them was difficult to formulate; indeed, to formulate one would have been a disservice to the diversity of submissions.
The impossibility of looking at the group of submissions from a shared perspective surprised some of the jury. More than once, jury members wondered whether they might be missing something, whether the assignment of the commission, the functionality or the budget encompassed a dominant reality that obscured more external and societal considerations. In the end, and after having surveyed all classifications, the jury returned to the conclusion that the organisation’s desire to reflect the idea of Changing Ideals in the submitters’ material was an understandable goal, but that a possible approach ultimately lay in the individual position of each project.
Despite this, were there any remarks of a more general nature to be made? Even more than in the first edition, the jury was very impressed by the quality of the submissions. There was virtually no elimination of submissions on the basis of a quality threshold. Each project, whether by an unknown designer from a new economy or a famous name hailing from a world design centre, presented the jury with an interesting position that could be compared against the others on an equal footing.
A discussion of a fundamental nature that did arise, despite the diversity in the submissions, was the discussion about architecture as opposed to interior architecture. Some members of the jury had an integrated vision of architecture, comprising both the shell/construction and the interior, while others saw the addition of the interior architect as distinctive from the architect, and considered that this was a vision of the interior that the award should express. Faced with the fundamental nature of this discussion, the jury decided to approach this issue, in all its specificity, individually for each project.
This jury was not per se interested in the visual vocabulary of a project, but considered very carefully the spatial quality behind the image. The most complex question for the jury was the issue of the specific cultural context from which the project came. In most cases, the jury had to rely on the text provided on the background of the project. Where that specific cultural quality could be abstracted, and could be compared with other projects on that basis, the jury opted to include this aspect in their considerations.