Meet the 1.618 judges: Andrea Kleinloog and Megan Hesse

The winner of this year’s 1.618 Education Initiative will be announced at the annual awards ceremony on 31 October 2019 and we can’t wait to share the top submissions with you! As we build up to the awards event, we’re introducing you to our panel of judges.

Andrea Kleinloog and Megan Hesse are the talented team behind Anatomy Design and Hesse Kleinloog Studio (aka HK Studio), their interior design wing. HK Studio offers spatial planning, custom design, specification, procurement and curation for the interior design of residential, retail, corporate and public space. Andrea is a previous winner of the 1.618 Education Initiative. She scooped first prize in 2005. We caught up with this dynamic duo to get their thoughts on the competition and this year’s entries.

“This year’s theme is very interesting as the brief was both dense and tight in terms of what students had to address in a three-page submission,” says Andrea. “It also included various important social aspects, such as urban densification, accessibility and green spaces. It’s quite technical.”

She says it’s tricky for students to put themselves into the mindset of working professionals, as they don’t yet have the experience to do so. “But through competitions like this, they get to enjoy a budget-less, constraint-less world,” she says, adding that entrants should seize the opportunity to explore projects in this sort of environment.

Megan says that her journey as a judge for 1.6.18 – now in her third year – has been great. “Every year we see how the competition grows and how the entries just keep improving and improving,” she says. Above and beyond assessing whether entries meet the brief, Megan says the judges look for a level of creativity, materials use and clever thought. “I think the entries this year have done really well,” she says. “They’ve met the requirements; they’ve thought out of the box and they’ve come up with really smart solutions.”

When it comes to judging, Andrea agrees that the main criterion is whether or not a student has met their brief. “They can have the most exquisite rendering or beautiful drawing, but if it doesn’t meet the brief, we can’t consider it,” she says. “Then I look for clarity of thought.”

She explains that a submission needs to be able to quickly convey its key ideas to an outsider, with little work on that person’s part to have to try to understand what they’re looking at. “I want to see a clear response to the brief, expressed in a graphic language. Clarity of thought is what sets the winners apart.”

Megan adds that she found this year’s brief harder to judge than the previous years’ as it was a “bigger” brief that incorporated both architectural and design elements. “But it’s been exciting to see how varied the students’ work is. There were several projects that demonstrated really well how spaces can adapt and grow without taking up much more land and that was really exciting to see.”

She hints that this was something that set the winner apart this year. “The winner this year repurposed spaces really cleverly.”

Andrea’s advice to young designers is to understand that they are working in a technical world. “There can be no assumptions, so if you don’t know the answer – find out what it is. Coming up with a concept is 10 percent of the job; technical ability is the other 90 percent.”

Megan says initiatives like 1.618 are important for several reasons. “Firstly, we in the industry get exposed to student work. Secondly, students get to better understand the materials and products that get specified into briefs. Thirdly, they get to deal with real-world briefs – things that are truly happening in the world.”

For more on the 1.618 Education Initiative, make sure you’re following the competition on Instagram and Facebook.