International Design Awards 2020

In 2015, Victoria + Albert Baths launched its first International Design Awards. Now a biennial contest, the competition is open to architects, designers and students from around the world.

The International Design Awards 2020 launched for its third year in October 2019 and invited architects, designers and students to immerse themselves in the tranquil world of spa design and create a concept bathroom space that restores, relaxes and invigorates the bather.

In total, we received over 250 entries from 17 countries around the world, which were judged by a global panel of acclaimed industry professionals.

The Brief

We invited the design community to immerse themselves in the tranquil world of spa design and create us a spa-inspired bathroom. We asked participants to be as imaginative as possible with their designs, whilst adhering to the following criteria:

- The design must fit within a 3m x 3m space

- The design must feature at least one product from the Victoria + Albert range of baths, basins and accessories

- Submit the design along with two project views including a rendering or sketch and a floor plan, using 2D and 3D product downloads 

The Judging Panel

Our winning design was due to be recreated at Salone del Mobile furniture fair in Milan in April 2020, with the regional runners-up designs also displayed and celebrated. Due to the global pandemic Salone del Mobile was unfortunately postponed and then cancelled, so we're doing things a little differently and displaying all the winning designs below. 

Read on to learn more about the design brief, the judging panel and see the winning and regional runners-up designs. 

Winner: Anastasia Izvolskaya, Artup Bureau design studio

The winning design was submitted by Anastasia Izvolskaya of Russian architecture and design studio Artup Bureau.

Anastasia's design revolved around creating a space that is at one with nature. Mosaic, limestone and plaster provide varied texture and a natural aesthetic, whilst rounded edges feel soft and tranquil. The space has been designed to feel tranquil; a homeful space that allows the bather to reconnect with their feelings.

Judges Comments:

“There is synergy between the soft colour palette and the natural materials and textures used in the design. The space has been designed to restore and relax.” - Jessica Morrison, G.A. Design

“The designer has carefully considered the layout of this bathroom. It is a beautiful yet functional space, with neat and clever storage solutions.” - Steve Leung, Steve Leung Design 

Regional runner-up (Europe & Asia): Andrea Benedetti, Panificio design studio

Andrea Benedetti of Italian design studio Panificio centred the design around circular shapes, natural light and natural materials. The result was a space that celebrated the element of water; a sensual, almost sacred bathing space. 

A structural roof cut allows light to enter directly at specific times of the day and different seasons. A large window leading on to the garden courtyard allows diffused light to illuminate the bathroom with softness.

Judges Comments:

“The materials used in this design (wood, stone, marble) were considered and worked harmoniously together. The use of circular shapes was pleasing to the eye, and felt completely linked to the theme of serenity and spa design.” - Sarah Kennedy, CLB Architects

Regional runner-up (South America): Valéria Cox, Valéria Cox design studio

Brazilian interior designer Valéria Cox utilised simple lines and symmetry to showcase the theme of balance and serenity. For harmony, natural materials such as pale grey travertine marble were chosen for the floor and walls, alongside pebbles and grained textures. In seeking the concept of tranquility, the studio took advantage of natural light through a skylight over the bathtub, and also created a partition with marble and staggered shelving arranged over different heights.

Judges Comments:

“The use of space and partitions was cleverly considered and applied in this design, with each area of the bathroom clearly defined. The addition of ‘his and hers’ basin areas showed that the designer kept the needs and comfort of the bather in the forefront of their mind.” - Winston Kong, Champalimaud Design

Regional runners-up (North America): Alexander Bahensky and Andrea Hernandeza, Florida University

Students Alexander Bahensky and Andrea Hernandeza of Florida University took inspiration from the Japanese practice of Shikantaza (只管打坐) which translates as 'Silent Illumination'. The design’s dark, minimalist details contrast with the linear skylights and bright porcelain of the Taizu bath. Incorporating the Taizu for its pure geometry allowed for the composition of an elegant plan with powerful emphasis on central placement. Elsewhere inspiration also comes from Japan; shou sugi ban wood interiors as well as bamboo stair detailing provide a connection to nature which is otherwise not seen in most contemporary bathrooms. 

Judges Comments:

“This design stood out due to the dark colour palette and split level design. The Japanese influence was strong and unique, and the bath was the real centrepiece. It’s a striking design.” - Steve Leung, Steve Leung Design

Regional runner-up (Australasia): Erica Zaino, TRCB Architects

Perth-based designer Erica Zaino crafted this bathroom to resonate a natural and elegant escape from the day-to-day pressures of modern living. The choice of a light colour palette allows natural light to reflect, and contributes to the sense of relaxation and serenity. The use of natural materials such as timber and marble allow the occupant to return to a feeling of a enhanced wellbeing. The waterfall shower also contributes to this feeling of escaping into nature. The living walls behind the tall, narrow mirrors contribute to a sense of tropical glamour and immersion into the natural atmosphere, and make the whole design particularly unique and compelling.

Judges Comments:

"There were unique elements in this design; the ceiling height, the full length windows, and the central positioning of the Taizu bath. It feels open and light, and the foliage brings the outside in." - Amy Heffernan, Wallpaper* Magazine

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