Judging the KBDi Designer Awards is no mean feat; the process begins with an intensive critique of every individual entry, where each entrant’s work is assessed against a comprehensive judging criteria. Based on this assessment, entries are allocated a final number of points, and it’s this ‘score’ that deems the entrants to be finalists or otherwise.

Following this, all three judges are locked away for two days of face-to-face reviews, where each entry is revisited, analysed, admired and discussed. Sometimes the winning entry stands out by a mile, but often there is much deliberation between several contenders.

To get through the above, judges need a genuine passion for the industry, an eye for detail and flair and a great deal of experience in design. This year’s panel certainly ticked all of these boxes, and we introduce them here:

Michelle Burton CKD Au

Michelle has been on a self-described ‘design journey’ from a very young age. She began her interior design education at UCLA, and after moving to Australia, went on to complete her studies in Sydney. In her early professional career she worked with firms specialising in kitchen design, and was inspired to attain accreditation as a Certified Kitchen Designer. In 1998, Michelle established SMB Interior Design, and following a move to Port Macquarie, now enjoys working in a boutique design collective, ‘Designing Divas’.

Michelle has a number of accolades under her belt, including the Australasian Interior DesignEx Student of the Year and, more recently, the title of Australian Bathroom Designer of the Year. With this particular win, she was rewarded with a fabulous trip to Milan, and the great satisfaction knowing that her hard work had paid off!

We asked Michelle why she thinks design awards are important for designers and the industry as a whole, and she shared the following:

I have been a judge on awards, as well as being an entrant, finalist and winner. The amount of effort you put into the awards really does pay off. It makes you try harder as a designer – knowing a project you are proud of will be critiqued by your peers. Clients are as proud of you for being an entrant (that you thought their bathroom or kitchen was worthy of an award). Then if you are a finalist it’s further confirmation that you, as a designer, and your client were on the right path. Awards always bring enquiries. Usually from clients with a willingness to put design as the forefront of their mind.  Designers who say they are “too busy” to enter awards may not be that busy in the future. 

Royston Wilson CKD Au, CBD Au

Our colourful new President needs little introduction to the KBDi community (but you can learn more about him here).

Royston has been in the industry for almost three decades, moving through various areas of design and construction and building a broad bank of knowledge.

As the first Australian to take home an International Design Award, Royston’s long been an advocate for quality award programs. When we asked Royston why he thinks awards are important, this is what he had to say:

When you are recognised by your peers, it is at a different level to those recognised by the public. The awards act as a motivation for improving your work and rising to the challenge.


Gavin Hepper CKD Au

Gavin has enjoyed over 25 years in the industry, with a rare combination of experience spanning both design and industry trade.  As Creative Director at Concepts by Gavin Hepper, Gavin has been proud to be nominated as finalists in both the HIA and KBDI awards, and has gathered an impressive collection of accolades in both kitchen and bathrooms since 2009. His 2015 win in the KBDi & KBQ Peoples Choice Award was another great accomplishment, with well-deserved recognition from Australian consumers.

In his recent appointment as Chapter Chair of the KBDi NSW Chapter Committee, Gavin has demonstrated his commitment not just to design, but the industry as a whole. He is eager to encourage and support the k & b industry in this role, and relished the opportunity to judge this year’s Awards program.

Here is Gavin’s perspective about the value of industry awards:

Being a finalist or indeed winning an industry award, is a genuine acknowledgement and symbol of our skills, industry knowledge, professionalism , consumer trust, client confidence and overall honour excellent business results.   This acknowledgement has a positive impact on the industry a source of encouragement for young designers and a continuous reflection of the hard work of established designers.  It also provides peer recognition and can be the basis of many mentor relationships. 

Keen to see this year’s finalists? You’ll find them here.