Meet 2020’s 1.618 Judges: Livia Coetzee-Stein

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Currently in its 28th year, the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative is once again offering design and architecture students the opportunity to partake in an intensive, distinguished design competition that is an integral part of the curricula at several major design and architecture educational institutions in South Africa.

Learning, across subject fields and levels of education, has been severely impacted this year by COVID-19, but the continuation of the 1.618 Education Initiative allows students to challenge themselves and learn from industry experts how to adapt and pivot in their approach to design.

The importance of adapting to our current circumstances and offering clients true value-add, is a point that is particularly emphasised by the first of our judges, Livia Coetzee-Stein.

Livia is the Creative Executive at interior brand and architectural studio DHQ. With over a decade and a half of industry experience, Livia’s speciality is within the hospitality and retail sector. She leads a team of designers in the development of innovative, brand-focused designs, and is dedicated to the mentorship and advancement of young designers.

This is Livia’s third year as a judge for the competition. She had a hand in designing this year’s design brief. She shares her advice for participants in the 1.618 Education Initiative and young designers in the industry at large alike:

The theme of this year’s PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative is ‘the pursuit of balance.’ What do you mean by ‘balance’?

We refer to balance in terms of striking a balance between applying the brief to the ‘experience’ component of design and the actual site and its distinct elements. Balance is important. Always respect the site and the site parameters and focus on the strategy and content of your design versus merely the quality of a render. What’s most important is the logic of your design, as opposed to just a beautifully crafted render.

Why do you feel that the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative is important?

It is an important initiative because it not only allows students to compete on a national level but also provides them an opportunity to connect with industry professionals and, potentially, stand out and get themselves noticed in the industry.

What are you looking for as a judge?

I’m looking for a focus on the design, focus on the detail and providing something authentic and different, especially because the site is such a raw space. The focus should very much be on purposeful social engineering. In terms of the tenant mix, their offerings, the community, the experience—how can I add value? This is something young designers entering the workspace should focus on too. We have to ramp up design and experience because clients have taken financial strain this year, so they really want to feel like their money’s well-spent. Stay up-to-date with all the latest news on 1.618 on Facebook and Instagram.