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Welcome to the first WAN Interiors + Design Furniture Awards, showcasing the best furniture products from around the world.

The jury panel was asked to judge entries on a number of factors, including originality, innovation, form and special quality, sustainability and context. Participants were asked to demonstrate how their product addressed the key elements of the brief, enhanced the user experience or integrated with its context.

The first piece to be judged was PAD by Martin Ryan. Pavlo commented that aesthetically this was a very beautiful product, and Chrystina agreed: “I wish all offices were kitted out like this – it will sell like hell!” Ed went on to say: “It allows both social seating grouping and anti-social seating all from the same product, so in terms of functionality it has some very interesting aspects.”

Pavlo and Lee both agreed that Toy Soldier Table was more ‘art than furniture’; Sean complimented John on the fine detail of his work, adding ‘his work will evolve into something much more interesting.’

Malagana Design’s Equilibrium bookcase with five modules stacked upon each other intrigued the panel. There was an animated discussion about how the boxes fitted together and although it was felt that the panel had seen something similar before, this was still a very interesting, beautifully crafted product.

Herman Miller’s SAYL family of chairs was next, and Ed commented on the engineering and investment that had gone into this ‘fabulous’ product. Pavlo, Ed and Chrystina all admired the aesthetics of the chair designed by Yves Behar. “In terms of function and engineering it is amazing,” said Ed who had seen the chair in production. Everyone was impressed by the £200 price - ‘a remarkable feat for such a distinguished product’ - and for that reason it was unanimously felt that the chair should be shortlisted for the award.

Tuckk, a shoe storage system inspired by human locomotion observed in mountaineering was next. ‘It’s so clever, superb, I love it’ was Chrystina’s reaction to this product; ‘it’s so intelligent, I’m sure it will be a commercial success. Every house should have one of these.’

Vitra’s Tip Ton all-plastic chairs with 9-degree forward-tilt action had everyone talking. Ed explained that when seated one tends to lean forward anyway, and with this chair one can ‘sit in a more engaging position’. Apparently the original concept was a chair designed for educational use, which had subsequently been priced out of the education market and is now being marketed on Vitra’s site as a chair for home, office or dining table as well as the public environment. Ed knew this product very well, and felt it deserved ‘a lot of merit’ for the thinking behind it and the stunning design. Tip Ton is the first object to be realised in collaboration between Vitra and Berber Osgerby. “For me this is a beautiful product; they have thought about the application of the chair and delivered something unique that stacks very well too” said Ed.

Everyone admired the UZU table with its pretty spiral pattern, especially the low table version; it didn’t quite make it into the shortlist, but was deemed to potentially be a ‘good seller’.

Another John Galvin piece, Manolo is a chair inspired by the eponymous shoe designer. Again, Pavlo expressed that John had lots of potential as a designer, but it was felt that the ‘balance of the elements’ didn’t quite work. Sean had serious concerns about the chair’s long-term functionality, so it wasn’t shortlisted. In spite of this, Sean declared the chair was a ‘triumph of craftsmanship’ and all the judges were in agreement that Galvin was ‘one to watch’.
Nara by Shin Azumi for FREDERICIA Furniture was the next product for review. Chrystina stocks Nara in her Skandium stores, and understandably she loves this product. “The detailing is beautiful; Shin Azumi has put so much thought into the collection. It’s difficult to photograph because the form is so simple. The chair is a harmonious piece which is very comfortable to sit on". Chrystina went on to explain that the ‘horns’ represent deer, which are a sacred animal in Nara, Japan. “It’s so easy to place this chair - how many times have we seen projects where people have spent millions on a building and then filled it with hideous furniture? This chair would not disturb the surrounding architecture, and for that reason I would like to see it shortlisted”.

Commenting on Gecko by Modus Furniture, Sean said: “What’s really clever about this product is that it answers the challenge of ‘how do you design a pedestal table that you can reach that doesn’t look clunky’, and they’ve achieved that, so as a piece of product design and a nice solution to that eternal problem I think they’ve done very well – I’d buy it.”

Joseph Walsh’s Enignum Canopy Bed was next, which Ed and Pavlo agreed is ‘an incredible object’, adding that it would make a stunning outdoor piece. As an exercise in craft, all the jury acknowledged this as a very accomplished piece.

Shazam, a collection of urban organic furniture by John Houshmand’s, found favour with both Chrystina and Lee. Sean was concerned about the production of the table, but Lee liked the uniqueness of every piece and the overall concept.

The Aikana collection, inspired by the 1950s, for both indoor and outdoor use was also very popular. Pavlo observed that it’s very ‘right on at the moment with the emphasis on outdoor living.’ Conceived by Emmanuel Gallina, a designer not known by the jury, the collection was elegant, simple and distinctive enough to be shortlisted.

JumpSeat by ZIBA Design is a low-profile folding seat designed to complement a minimalist interior. Inspired by the human spine and the folding seats used by aircraft attendants, this piece drew gasps of admiration from all the jury members. Sean commented that auditorium seating is notoriously hard to get right, adding: “In auditoria it’s hugely beneficial to use wood for acoustic purposes and this uses wood so effectively, for me this is the winning product. The designers have tackled something that isn’t tackled very often. I haven’t seen anything like this before - it looks just as beautiful when it’s up as when it’s in use, the profile is lovely, the functionality is there; it’s a really clever design”.

Chrystina added: “It’s the least designed of all of them - public spaces are so polluted, and this really does not pollute the space. It’s just so pleasing to the eye.” Pavlo agreed: “It’s just so simple, and simple solutions are often the best.” The last word goes to Sean: “This is a stunning design for all the reasons already stated. A really ingenious solution, the clear winner.”

The overall winner was Ziba Design’s JumpSeat.

The shortlisted entries were: Aikana designed by Emmanuel Gallina for Fast Spa, Nara by Shin Azumi for A Studio, Tip Ton, a collaboration between Vitra and Barber Osgerby and SAYL designed by Yves Behar for Herman Miller.

On behalf of the WAN Awards team I would like to congratulate Ziba Design and all of the shortlisted entries.
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