KBDi Symposium planning underway

KBDi Symposium planning underway

We’re very excited to be planning a stand-out Symposium program for those who can make it to Sydney in August.

We’ll be setting up shop in the Shangri-La, where you’ll enjoy a dedicated trade expo and some insightful sessions.

We’ve lined up former architect and now obsessive-urban sketcher, Liz Steel, to take us for a wander around The Rocks. Liz will share her well-honed skills in architectural observation, and help you get your head around ‘what-you-see’ sketching. If hand-drawn perspectives scare the pants off you, don’t stress – Liz has a ‘pointless perspective’ strategy that could prove to be an invaluable communication skill. This workshop won’t see you packing away your CAD software, but it will sharpen your observation and add some on-the-spot sketching skills to your tool belt.

And if you can see the potential in learning how to design for all abilities, you’ll be keen to learn more in our workshop of the same name. We’ll be looking at design for a range of demographics and disabilities and actively workshopping some practical solutions.

We know there’s never enough to learn about online marketing. In our business session, we’ll be looking at the ways you can get all the (good) attention on the interwebs.

And we’ll be winding up the day with some kind of social hoo-ha to celebrate the category winners of the KBDi Designer Awards. State and National winners will be announced via our virtual gala on 20 August.

More detail will follow very soon, but for now, lock in the date (and add a day either side – why not make a long and tax-deductible weekend of it?).

DA2020 Awards Gala & Symposium Update

DA2020 Awards Gala & Symposium Update

The bizarre-extraordinary-weird circumstances of this year have sadly forced us to make changes to our 2020 KBDi Design Symposium and Designer Awards program.  Following is an update of where we are with our planning.  

Regretfully, the KBDi Design Symposium for 2020 has now been cancelled. We have, however, reallocated resources to planning a ‘bigger and better’ event in 2021, and will be heading to Sydney for a two-day program on 13 and 14 August. Of course, we’ll communicate with you again when we’ve established more details, but in the meantime, we encourage you to note these dates in your 2021 calendar.

Booked your accommodation at the Shangri-La Hotel? Contact them before the end of July to cancel your booking and you’ll receive a full refund.

We’re pleased to advise that the 2020 Designer Awards program went ahead as planned and was indeed our BEST-YEAR-EVER!  Australia’s finest designers produced some incredible work, and we’re looking forward to showing off our finalists in the coming weeks.

Of course, varying state restrictions have changed the way in which we can announce our finalists and winners, but we’ve come up with a plan that will give all entrants the exposure they deserve. Announcements will be delivered as follows:


Wednesday, 22 July 7.00PM (AEST) – Round 1 (NSW + QLD + ACT) , and Traditional Design + Design Space + First Time Entrants + Australian Certified Designers from these regions

Thursday, 23 July 7.00PM (AEST) –Round 2 (VIC + TAS + SA + WA) and Traditional Design + Design Space + First Time Entrants + Australian Certified Designers from these regions

Friday, 24 July – ENEWS – Round 3 (All finalists + Traditional Design + Design Space + First Time Entrants + Australian Certified Designers)


Friday, 7 August 7.00PM (AEST) – Round 1 (Category winners)

Friday, 14 August 7.00PM (AEST) – Round 2 (STATE and NATIONAL winners)

(Note: all announcement information and links will be listed under the Awards tab on the KBDi website, and we’ll distribute email invitations closer to each of the dates.)

2020 Symposium & Gala – EARLY BIRD ACCOMMODATION RATES available for a limited time

2020 Symposium & Gala – EARLY BIRD ACCOMMODATION RATES available for a limited time

We’re thrilled to be heading to Sydney for this year’s KBDi Design Symposium and Awards Gala. We’ll be rocking around the Rocks on 14 and 15 August 2020, and have lined up an incredible accommodation rate for the early birds keen to save some $$.


This year’s conference and Gala will be held at the Shangri-La Hotel (176 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, Sydney).

This fabulous 5-star hotel is located in the historic neighbourhood of The Rocks, and is just a hop, skip and jump away from the City’s heart and highlights. You’ll discover laneways from a bygone era, wander through the famous open-air Rocks Markets, and enjoy a drink in some of Sydney’s oldest pubs.

KBDi has secured an exclusive rate for KBDi Symposium and Gala Delegates:

Deluxe Darling Harbour King

  • $270 per night, room only
  • $300 per night with breakfast for 1
  • $330 per night with breakfast for 2
  • (Note: breakfast is $42 pp for walk-in guests)

All rooms have Harbour views, and rates include complimentary local call access and in-room wired internet and Wi-Fi. You’ll have free access to the Health Club, and can use the hotel’s fully fitted out 24-hour gym, heated indoor swimming pool and sauna to work off your Gala gluttony.

Room rates are applicable three (3) days pre and post-stay, subject to room availability, so why not make a (tax-deductible) holiday out of your Symposium and Gala experience?

You’ll need a special KBDi booking reference to secure the above rates; email Lorena at majorevents@kbdi.org.au and she’ll send you the relevant details.

(After this time, any guest wishing to reserve accommodation will be subject to room availability at the prevailing best available rate. Limited rooms are available and will be allocated on a first-in first-served basis.)

Please note that Delegates MUST make reservations directly with the Shangri-La Hotel (i.e. not through any other booking agencies).

For more information regarding the Symposium, Gala and accommodation packages, email Lorena at majorevents@kbdi.org.au.

Digital Marketing | Designer Style

Digital Marketing | Designer Style

Guests at this year’s KBDi Design Symposium enjoyed a fantastic session on Digital Media with Queensland’s Elissa Greer (Darren James Interiors).

Elissa generously shared her top tips for a holistic digital media strategy, and certainly inspired Members in the audience to up their ante with a ‘modern marketing ecosystem’ (MME).

Members learned that an MME is a strategic approach to marketing, with one primary purpose: to drive your potential clients to your own business website. Whether through print and digital features, SEO, social media channels or paid advertising, Elissa explained that getting clients to your website is the first and most important step in crafting a genuine relationship. She went on to explain the key steps to starting a successful campaign, and we’re sharing three of these with you today.

Handcraft a dynamic website

Unlike social media, you’ll always own your website. It’s the central component of your MME, and it’s your portfolio, showroom, shopfront and office all rolled together in one neat package. The site should be professionally designed in a way that speaks to your audience and reflects your business values. We’re in a very visual industry – if your site doesn’t look sharp, it could reflect poorly on the way your potential clients see you. Engaging with visitors is the next step: by capturing the email address of visitors to your site (with simple pop-ups and automation), you’ll have a unique opportunity to engage directly with the people who’ve already shown interest in your service by visiting your site.

Create engaging content

Anything you post to your website or social channels is considered content. This includes blog articles, photos and videos, and it’s essential to consider every piece of content an opportunity. Aim to entertain and educate, and avoid blatant selling. Elissa provided some great examples of types and ratios of content, including problem-solving features (35%), before and afters, project products etc. (35%), trends, fun finds, product roundups (20%) and company updates and personal stories (10%).

Build connections

Aim to create and build your tribe with social media and email marketing. Building relationships in any forum takes two, and it takes time. Elissa shared her strategies for making time to engage with followers and those that you follow. She reminded delegates that ‘it’s social media – not selling media’, and encouraged Members to be genuine and friendly in their engagement with potential clients, peers and suppliers.

The burning question from most attendees was ‘how long does all this take?’. Depending on the number of channels you’re using, Elissa explained how just ten minutes a day could be all you need to get serious about finding and growing your own tribe.

We’d love to hear how Members who attended this session have implemented something they learnt into their own MME. Share your feedback below, and we’ll make sure Elissa sees it.

Huge thanks to Laminex Australia for their sponsorship of this session – much appreciated!

Inspiring designer shares her approach to aged care design

Inspiring designer shares her approach to aged care design

This year’s KBDi Certified Designers Forum guests were treated to an informative and inspiring session with renowned interior designer, Julie Ockerby (Meli Studio), with thanks to the generous sponsorship of Blum Australia.

With previous careers in nursing and the boutique hotel industry, Julie shared how she combined her past experience with a passion for interiors, and a genuine desire to reinvigorate aged care living. 

Together with her Sydney-based design team, Julie is committed to ‘pushing the boundaries’ with her clients in an effort to create beautiful, warm and stimulating spaces for those nearing the end of their lives.

Drawing on her personal experiences, Julie shared how important it is to create spaces that are not only appealing to the residents, but also inviting to family and friends. She explained how by creating a less sterile and more homely environment, the elderly occupants are much more likely to be visited by those near and dear to them.

Fighting hard against beige-to-beige norms of the industry, Julie strives to incorporate colour in her aged care projects. With an international clientele, she noted the need to consider the cultural relationships with particular colours: red, for instance, could be deemed far too intense for a Western population. Asian culture, on the other hand, would embrace the hue for its prosperity and energetic values. 

Julie also discussed how furniture design can be approached with greater thoughtfulness. For example, upholstering an otherwise ordinary bedhead with patterned fabrics adds softness and a sense of opulence, and including drawers for jewellery allows for sentimental reflection (with the necessary security).

Julie’s passion for the industry was truly inspirational, and her energy and enthusiasm for change was contagious. Forum attendees certainly left with some food for thought about the aging population, and plenty of inspiration. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

  • Great insight into an area needing a lot of attention and respect.
  • Julie offered great inspiration for following your passion and leading industry to change. 
  • Great insight into something I knew nothing about. Her ideas about introducing colour were brilliant and the way she went about it all.
  • As a designer, I have done some work in Aged Care and medical and absolutely love the challenges it presents. Julie was great to listen to and very informative. And down to earth.
  • Julie’s presentation was dynamic and engaging. With a vast array of knowledge and experience in Aged Care, I learnt a great deal and opened my mind to items/ideas that I had never considered.

If you have an interest in learning more about designing for an aging population, don’t forget to refer to our technical bulletin, ‘Designing for the Elderly and People with Disabilities’. (Don’t have a copy yet? Contact us today, and we’ll get one to you.)

And if you’d like to see more of Julie’s work, visit www.melistudio.com.au.

Many thanks to Blum for their sponsorship of this fantastic Forum, and for bringing such an inspiring speaker to our program.

Blum’s Ange Geroukos with Julie Ockerby of Meli Studio.

Farmers open Doors for KBDi Members

Farmers open Doors for KBDi Members

KBDi Symposium delegates received the warmest of welcomes when they visited Farmers Doors on Saturday, 10 June.

The Farmer family opened their factory to eighty-odd design professionals, and shared their wonderful story with an appreciative audience over a beautifully catered lunch.

Guests were taken on a tour of the impressive factory, and learned how the Farmers Doors are carefully produced, finished and distributed across Australia. The designers appreciated the attention to detail in each area of the door manufacturing process, and loved the ‘snap and send’ system that ensures all parties know exactly what colour and finish they’ll be seeing in their kitchen or interior space.

The following comments (received from Symposium delegates) sum up the visit perfectly:

‘An excellent insight into a successful family business.’


‘Provided a credible understanding of the product and the owners’ dedication, pride and commitment to producing a product that is authentic, individual and superbly manufactured.’


‘Great opportunity to see the factory and learn about their new products. The set up was fantastic and created a great atmosphere.’

Huge thanks to Farmers Doors for their wonderful hospitality!