Introducing the KBDi Australian Bathroom Designer of the Year 2021

Introducing the KBDi Australian Bathroom Designer of the Year 2021

We’ve seen some truly beautiful bathrooms in our Awards program over the years, but the 2021 entries were above and beyond. The bathroom categories, proudly sponsored by E & S, were jam-packed with exquisitely detailed spaces. One, in particular, stood out from the rest, earning its designer one of the three top national awards.

At our virtual gala on Friday, 20 August, we were thrilled to announce the KBDi Australian Bathroom Designer of the Year 2021 – Darren Genner CKD Au.

Darren Genner CKD Au needs little introduction to the KBDi community. He has stood on the podium (real and virtual) many times over the last few years, holding a firm position as one of Australia’s Finest. With his equally talented partner, Simona Castagna, Darren leads the hugely successful Sydney design firm, Minosa.

Darren started in the industry as a fresh-faced teenager in the late eighties, after leaving school and receiving a stern warning to find a job within six months or join the army. With little desire to ‘don the khaki greens, Darren took the first apprenticeship that came his way. He turned out many kitchens in his wood machining trade before moving to bespoke joinery and beginning his love affair with making extraordinary things. Darren soon progressed through the ranks to programming, project management, contract management and administering projects. And through seeing the work of other designers, he developed a great curiosity for design.

Darren and Simona are huge advocates of ongoing learning, and they continue to seek and share design inspiration each and every day. This highly coveted title – paired with the enormous success of their business – is sweet reward for their efforts.

On behalf of KBDi and our generous award sponsors, E & S, we congratulate Darren on his continued success. Your passion and commitment to the industry are enormously inspirational, Darren, and we’re delighted to see this accolade added to your impressive collection of awards.

About Darren’s project

Darren’s Large Bathroom project blew away the KBDi Judges. They loved the pared-back, sophisticated elegance of Darren’s beautiful bathroom design. Exceptional space planning allowed multiple zones in a moderately-sized space – from the his-and-hers vanity to the luxuriously positioned tub, the floor plan was superbly executed. A comprehensive specification detailed the high-end fixtures, fittings and finishes, and the judges deemed the end design to be both balanced and luxurious.

Dark and moody bathrooms

Dark and moody bathrooms

While ‘light and bright’ is often the brief given to bathroom designers, dark and moody bathrooms are becoming increasingly popular. In this feature, we’re sharing four of our favourites from the 2020 KBDi Designer Awards.

Sydney’s Gavin Hepper (Concepts by Gavin Hepper) conquered challenging site and building restraints to design this elegant ensuite for his clients. With a practical floor plan in place, Gavin dressed the room for drama. Deep Nero tones create a cocooning ambience, and exquisite lighting selections bring warmth and moodiness to the space.

The original leadlight window in this beautiful bathroom was the design inspiration for Tasmania’s Lydia Maskiell (Lydia Maskiell Interiors). Deep green fish scale mosaics reflect the window hues, while bevelled black subway tiles are a nod to the federation style of the home. With almost-black painted plasterboard wrapping around the room, the light thrown from the window is a literal highlight, creating a magical retreat for the homeowners.

ACT designer Sonja McAuliffe (Archertec Interiors) used thoughtful space planning and a striking combination of materials in this luxurious master suite. Graphite and charcoal tones create an intimate feel to the generously sized bathroom, while bronze fittings and timber veneer joinery add warmth. The gorgeous herringbone marble tiles offer texture underfoot and visual interest, while carefully selected luminaires spill light in all the right places.

With abundant natural light flooding this family bathroom, Perth designer Andrew Daly (Lux Interiors) went to town with contrasting tones and textures. Black and charcoal chevron tiles wrap from floor to ceiling, and the walnut-toned cabinetry fits right in. Reddish brickwork adds even more interest, while brushed copper fittings bring an industrial edge.

Have a favourite from the above? Share your vote below.

Making your measure up manageable

Making your measure up manageable

Our April ‘One Question Wednesday’ survey touched on the three core parts of a design delivery: the site survey (or measure up), the concept presentation and the working drawings.

As always, those who contributed offered honest commentary and some excellent advice. We’ll cover concept presentations and working drawings in another article, but here’s what our members had to say about measure ups.

A comprehensive site survey – combined with a detailed client brief – is an essential cog in the wheel of an efficient and effective design process.

While many won’t admit it, few designers haven’t experienced the distress caused by a missing dimension or overlooked detail. Hours of design time can be lost scouring through photos, analysing scribble and playing the detective in an attempt to work out what was missed in the measure up.

To start with, we asked our members which tools they use most often for kitchen or bathroom site surveys.

Only 12% of the respondents said they use a standard old-school tape measure. More of the bunch – 83% – use a laser and tape combination, while just 6% put all their faith in a laser measure. (Note: we’ve asked members to share their particular favourites – brands and all – in the private Facebook group. Jump in and have a peek or add your pics if you haven’t already.)

Top three challenges
We asked the Members to share which aspect of measuring up they find most challenging.

#1 Talkative Clients
Not surprisingly, the key complaint noted was dealing with clients chatting during the process. Concentration is key to catching all the details required in a comprehensive site survey. Following are some of the strategies employed by your fellow designers, along with a few of our top tips:

  • Be direct: let the client know you’ll need x-minutes of quiet time to capture all information required. (See note below about timing.)
  • Suggest they get on with their day so you ‘don’t hold them up, and let them know you’ll sing out if you need a hand.
  • Use this time to share your folio with the clients – hand them a hard copy presentation and some post-it notes, and ask them to (quietly) consider the things they love and hate about particular projects.
  • Get the clients to complete a survey about their wants and needs while you’re measuring. Yes, you may have covered this in your initial discussions, but their written confirmation could be helpful in confirming the brief.

#2 Time Limitations
Rushing through a measure-up is a sure-fire way to miss essential dimensions. Allow yourself ample time to:

  • Sketch out a mud-map of the overall space, including dimension lines for the essential details. (Having your ‘must-gets’ pre-empted in this way means you’re less likely to miss them.)
  • Measure methodically in one direction (e.g. clockwise) around the room.
  • Double-check each measurement and tally up overall lengths/heights.

#3 Measuring angles and curves
Measuring angles and curves is an enormous challenge for the best of us. We have a few members who deem themselves Pythagoras pros, and we’re going to challenge them to make us a video. (Make sure you’re a part of the private Facebook group so you can be the first to see it.) The less mathematically minded amongst our community swear by their angle finders – if you don’t already have one, an investment of between $40 and $150 could save you a tonne of time and hassle.

Finally, we asked the members to share their top measuring tips for less-experienced designers, and the following gems should be noted:

  • Take photos of every wall, the floor AND the ceiling. 
  • Take a photo of the final site survey sketch to ensure you have a digital copy on file.
  • Don’t shoot your laser at a glossy surface and expect an accurate result – carry some masking tape with you to provide a dull end measuring point.
  • Colour code your trades: use a different colour for electrical and plumbing references.
  • Have a comprehensive checklist and USE IT!

We know you’re a busy lot, and not everyone has time to contribute. Those of you who do, however, are hugely appreciated. Your generous advice and honest commentary help us design and curate useful and relevant PD and articles like the above. Your five-minute response could be a game-changer for an industry newbie – thank you!

Hey, did we miss something? Add your comments below. 


PD Tuesday | Documenting a Bathroom Design

PD Tuesday | Documenting a Bathroom Design

Watch as the team from Compusoft use Innoplus to draft up a beautiful bathroom. You’ll see how the software can document your bathroom designs to an accredited standard, and learn how accurate plans and realistic renderings will help your bathroom projects flow smoothly from beginning to end. 

Watch the recording

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Designing with tile: texture and dimension

Designing with tile: texture and dimension

The inherent ‘smoothness’ of tile – and its subsequent ease of cleaning – makes the material a popular choice for bathrooms and kitchen splashbacks. But for those looking for more dimension in their designs, textured tiles offer some exciting decorative possibilities.

Concave and convex, folded and indented, rippled and bevelled tiles can turn the ordinary into extraordinary. Even the slightest variation to the face of a tile can capture and reflect the light in a space, immediately adding interest and a tactile calling.

In this feature, we’re exploring some of the ways KBDi Members have successfully designed with tiles to introduce texture and dimension.

Melbourne’s Jasmine McLelland (Jasmine McClelland Design) added lux to this lavish space with a Carnivale Tri Grey Italian Porcelain Tile. The three-dimensional run of faceted pyramid shapes is beautifully balanced by a no-nonsense, large format floor tile and discrete frameless shower screens.

The same designer introduced a beautifully embossed white tile to this sturdy family bathroom. Mimicking a woven textile with a classic chevron pattern, the selection softens the space while adding interest and movement.

In a textured-tile-trifecta, Jasmine played with concave circles in this spectacular kitchen splashback. The tiles both absorb and reflect the light in a most unusual way, adding a new dimension to the black and white geometric space.

The natural light flooding this bathroom emphasises the surface variegation of the rippled subway tiles specified by Melbourne’s Matthew James. Balanced with a large format floor tile and fuss-free fittings, the overall look is simple, clean and timeless.

The subway tiles in this gorgeous bathroom (designed by Adelaide’s Janine Izzo, Antipode Interiors) are just one of four in a prettily patterned space. The bevelled-edge of the subway adds weight and substance to the window wall, contrasting perfectly with the delicate tiles elsewhere in the room.

Have a favourite from the selection above? Share your thoughts below.

How will COVID-19 change kitchen and bathroom design

How will COVID-19 change kitchen and bathroom design

As Australia’s peak industry group for kitchen and bathroom designers, we’re often asked to share our perspective on changing trends in these much-loved spaces. COVID-19 has prompted a new line of questioning, and we’re considering how the response to the virus could change design in 2021 and beyond. We’ve looked into our crystal ball to start the conversation, and invite you to add your predictions in the comments below.

Function of Space

In the past year, the long-recognised ‘hub of the home’ has hosted a variety of tasks alongside traditional kitchen duties. With homeschooling, working from home and a renewed enthusiasm (by necessity) for in-house cooking and entertaining, well-designed, multi-functional spaces are more important than ever. 
Bathrooms will further transform from a utilitarian space into a wellness escape, as set out below.

Wellness in Design

A well-designed kitchen or bathroom will encourage wellness in several ways: 
  • Natural light and refreshing and invigorating palettes can make an enormous difference to the ‘vibe’ of a home, and minimise feelings of claustrophobia. 
  • Access to natural airflow, practical air ventilation and thoughtful storage planning, combined with sensitive product specifications, can reduce toxic exposure in the home. 
  • Ergonomic consideration and future-planning can create an environment that will accommodate accessibility for a range of abilities and ages. 

Colours, Patterns & Texture

We anticipate an exciting shift in home environment finishes, with a variety of inspiration sources:
  • A renewed appreciation for nature will see earth and sea-inspired hues work their way into our palettes. Cool whites will be ‘warmed up’ with brown-based creams, beiges, tan and terracotta tones. Forest greens and sea-blues will feature more distinctly.
  • As international travel stalls, we look forward to seeing how consumers and designers introduce flavours of afar into home design. Through colour, texture and pattern, homeowners have a fantastic opportunity to add glimpses of their favourite cities to their everyday environment. 

Appliance, Product and Material Specifications

As many Australians move to work from home on a more regular basis, we’ve seen a considerable uptake of appliances once reserved for office premises. KBDi partners have reported a significant increase in sales in boiling water taps, sparkling water taps and microwaves as homes convert to live-in offices. 
Hygiene and air quality will be of greater interest to homeowners focussing on health. We expect to see more emphasis placed on the antibacterial properties of benchtops and tiles (grouts, specifically), and the chemical make-up (VOCs) of paints, cabinetry and furnishings. We’ll see more attention paid to air extraction systems – both in kitchens and bathrooms – and a greater appreciation for natural airflow. 
We’d love you to look into your own crystal ball (or tealeaves or tarot cards or whatever takes your fancy) and share your predictions in the comments below.