Meet the Judges | KBDi Designer Awards 2023

Aug 14, 2023 | KBDi Awards

Judging the KBDi Designer Awards is a challenging task. The process begins with an intensive critique of every individual entry, where our judges assess each entrant’s work against comprehensive judging criteria. This assessment results in a point score, and those who exceed the threshold move on to phase two.

In this second round of judging, we get the panel together for three days of round-table reviews. The panel revisits each entry, analysing, admiring and debating the designs. Sometimes the winning entry stands out by a mile. But more often than not, there is an enormous amount of deliberation between several contenders.

We select our panel carefully: all judges need a sharp eye for detail, a genuine passion for the industry and plenty of experience in design. This year’s panel ticked all these boxes, and we introduce our terrific trio here.

Anne Courtney-Bennett is a Perth-based building designer and the founder and director of Bennett Design Studio. She has decades of experience in both commercial and residential design and has practised in Australia and abroad. Anne has enjoyed working on a range of projects over the years, from aged care to hospitality and high-end residential, and she has a passion for passive solar and sustainable design. Anne’s broader knowledge of building design and sharp eye for architectural drafting detail made her a tremendous technical asset to this year’s panel.

Simon Hodgson is well known to the KBDi community. He has more than 40 years of experience in the industry, from wholesale and retail appliance sales to kitchen and bathroom design and manufacturing and from mentoring to industry training. Simon is a current board member of the ACFA, a national industry organisation representing the furniture and cabinet-making industries, and an enthusiastic tour leader with his company Australian International Design Tours. As the co-founder of The Kitchen and Bathroom Blog, Simon regularly contributes to industry eMags, blogs and magazines and is keenly aware of current and upcoming trends.

Helen Baumann (Helen Baumann Design) has lived and breathed design for more than twenty-five years. She began her journey in graphic and set design, practising as a freelance art director for major entertainment companies like Warner Brothers and Fox Australia. Helen worked in the ABC TV Design Department on various productions, including Brides of Christ, The True Believers and Enough Rope. She later moved into residential design and continues to enjoy great success and personal achievements in this field. Helen was the winner of the KBDi Australian Certified Designer of the Year award last year and was delighted to be on the other side of the judging panel in 2023.

Certified Judging Panel

The KBDi Designer Awards Certified Designer of the Year category (generously sponsored by Wilson & Bradley in 2023) recognises the KBDi Accredited Members participating in the program. Two specially selected accredited designers separately assess the entries submitted by Certified Kitchen or Bathroom Designers. This year, the Certified Judging Panel consisted of Rex Hirst CKD Au and Frank Iaria CKD Au.

Rex is a KBDi founding member and a KBDi Life Member with decades of design and sales experience and an undeniable passion for the industry. Rex studied advanced kitchen design in the USA and, upon his return, was instrumental in developing this niche profession in Australia. Rex has had many kitchen and bathroom articles published and is an active design lecturer within the industry. He consulted to the Victorian Department of Human Services for over ten years in kitchen and bathroom design for people with disabilities. As a highly experienced and creative designer, he has judged many awards for our industry organisation and others and was a perfect fit for the 2023 KBDi Certified Category panel.

Like Rex, Frank is no stranger to the KBDi Community, particularly our Victorian cohort. Frank has played the kitchen game for almost three decades and owns and operates two very successful showrooms in Melbourne. He has supported and led the KBDi Victorian Chapter for more years than we can remember and has recently taken a position on the KBDi Board. Frank is a KBDi Accredited Designer and – not surprisingly – brought excellent practical knowledge and design expertise to the accreditation judging panel.



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