By Michael Adams
Last month it was my pleasure to be among the six judges for the ninth annual Andreu World Chair Design Competition. Held in conjunction with the Ideas & Pasión trade fair in Valencia, Spain, the contest gathers seating concepts from around the world, and are judged on creativity, originality, and how well they uphold the aesthetic standards of Andreu World.
The other judges: Patxi Mangado, architect; Jeffrey Bernett, industrial designer; Sergi Arolo, chef and restaurateur; José Maria Faerna, editor of the Spanish design magazine, Desiño Interior; and Josep Maria Mir, brand guru. (I was listed as “editor jefe,” a term I’ve come to prefer over “editor in chief” for its continental tang.)
It should be easy to determine, as you read that list, that there were only two of us who are not Spanish. Jeffrey and I, both from New York, speak no Spanish beyond the day-to-day pleasantries. Two of the others spoke fine English, and two almost none at all, unless they were holding back out of protest to our linguistic lapse—and who could blame them?
So how, you might ask, did we come to consensus, choosing a first- and second-prize winner and two runners-up from among more than 350 entries? well, a lot more easily than you might think.
For the judging, we were driven to the outskirts of Valencia, where Andreu World has a showroom. In the large basement, two long rows of metal shelves held the entries, dozens and dozens of carefully crafted miniatures, like a department store in Lilliput. We separately wandered the room, placing initialed post-its on our favorite entries. When we finished, all the models represented by several post-its were transferred to a table and the winners chosem from these finalists.
That’s when the discussion began. Sort of. Since we were in Spain, it seemed only right that Spanish should dominate, and you’d be surprised at how much information can be passed along through shrugs, smiles, and grimaces. I missed many of the nuances of the deliberations that charted the reasons the majority of my fellow jurors voted as they did, but the end result was satisfactory to all, even if my first choice of entries did not come out on top. And, as with all enterprises in Spain, the judging was followed by a wonderful meal (including paella, of course) and much animated conversation–in both languages.
1st Prize, the “Woox Chair,” by Boris Inneken and Philipp Christ, Darmstadt, Germany
Second Prize, “Marguerite,” by Loïc Lobet, Marseilles, France