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Call For Entries: The KOHLER Bold Design Awards 2021

Leo Leong, General Manager of Kohler Kitchen & Bath Group (South & North East Asia), shares how the competition uncovers and rewards the best designers in the region.

What was the impetus for starting the KOHLER Bold Design Awards (KBDA) three years ago?

Being a leading global brand of kitchen and bathroom fittings, KOHLER has a mission to contribute to a higher level of gracious living for those who are touched by our products and services. Therefore, we wanted to be part of the progression of the interior design industry and recognise the talents within the Asia Pacific region. We also notice how the industry is developing fast and hope to give outstanding designers a platform to facilitate the sharing of their projects.

What are the objectives of this award?

The objectives are three-fold:

1. To help the interior design industry in the Asia Pacific region progress by promoting awareness of it as an important aspect of everyday life;

2. To acknowledge and give industry recognition to deserving projects and consequently, their designers;

3. To encourage and promote professional standards and ethics among interior design practices operating in the region.

The KBDA was held at a national level in the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam in previous years. Why did Kohler decide to hold an Asia Pacific edition this year?

The direction change this year was done as we have significantly built up the reputation and awareness of the KBDA in the region. It represents how we, as a company, continue to strengthen our presence in the Asia Pacific region, which has strong growth potential. We want to maintain our toehold as a leading brand in this industry.

There are big and rapid developments in the real estate and hospitality industry. We recognise the artistry, professionalism and talent of Asia Pacific’s architects, designers and developers, as they are ever evolving and adapting to keep up. Culture-related projects are growing as well – a key market for Kohler to build partnerships.

How is the KBDA different this year?

After evaluating, we enhanced the selection criteria to make the KBDA more representative of the nature and requirements of each category. We also made some changes to the award categories to ensure they fit the situation and environment of the local design industries. For example, this year we introduced the Commercial and Innovation Award categories, as we noticed there is the growing trend of commercial developments within the region. New technologies and innovative ideas are also more widely applied to architectural and interior design projects. We have also enhanced our promotion strategies by collaborating with key industry partners and prominent media in the region to effectively leverage their networks to publicise this award to the right audience.

How does KOHLER position the KBDA in the region?

The KBDA aspires to be an award that uncovers and rewards the best places and people in property design and innovation in the region. We want to be like the name – bold – and be recognised as one of the much-awaited awards among design practitioners. Contributing to a higher level of gracious living for our customer is always our mission, we want to inspire that graciousness as well.

Who are the judges this year and how did you select them?

A jury of seven renowned international architects and designers will select the most outstanding projects from the region. Alexandra Champalimaud will co-judge with Ed Bakos; she is the Founder & President and he is the Partner & CEO of Champalimaud from the US. The others are Andre Fu, Founder of Andre Fu Studio (Hong Kong); Chris Godfrey, Global Principal, HBA Residential (UK & Singapore); Steve Leung, Founder of Steve Leung Design Group (Hong Kong); Brian Lum, Vice President, Design Services Asia Pacific, Hyatt Hotels Corporation (Hong Kong); and Tiny Norden, Partner, Conran and Partners (UK). Selecting them was not easy. We needed to ensure each had made significant contributions to the industry and are continuing to raise standards through their expertise and artistry. 

What are the award categories and deadline for submissions?

The KBDA has 17 awards in total, spread across two main categories with several sub-categories:

The first is The Boldest. Its sub-categories are Apartment Living and Villa Living, Travel (includes urban and resort hotels), Leisure (retail spaces, bars and restaurants) and Sustainability. We also introduced several new awards covering innovations and commercial. We further divided some categories into architectural and interior design awards.

The second category is The Visionaries. Its sub-categories are Influencers, to recognise the designers who went against design norms to introduce innovative ideas; Prodigies (Rising Talent); and the Icons (the John Michael KOHLER Lifetime Achievement Award).

The deadline for submission is 15 December 2021.

How do you join the KBDA?

Submit your entries at Include a 100-word entry submission including (but not limited to): the client brief, explanation of the concept/narrative and creative process, purpose and ideals of the project, special skills required to design and/or complete the project, any specific challenges during the design or construction process, key people involved in the project (design team, client, developer etc.). Imagery that illustrates the process of the design and the final project (can include renderings and photos of models) should be sent in too. All the best!

This story is produced in collaboration with the KOHLER Bold Design Awards 2021.

Low Shi Ping
28 October 2021