1) What is your name and what do you do?
Hello, I’m Cristiano and I’m a director in the interiors group at TP Bennett. I lead a team of talented colleagues focusing on all the strategic, creative and technical aspects of workplace projects, from the early feasibility stages to the last inspections on site, and everything in between. Together we work on a number of projects, for prestigious clients in various sectors including tech, legal, financial, and professional services, both in the UK and abroad.
2) What experiences led you to the role of BCO Awards judge? (and/or chairman)
I joined the BCO as a NextGen member, very soon after starting my career over a decade ago. I was fortunate to become involved in the NextGen Committee in London and the South East when it was a new initiative, and I helped the NextGen group grow to its current membership of over 600, including with my stint as Chair. The Awards organisers felt I could bring a NextGen angle, as well as an interiors viewpoint and experience of the booming tech sector.
3) What do you most look forward to when judging?
The obvious answer is that as a BCO Awards judge you get to see the best buildings and fit-outs in the country. This is a privilege that few people in our industry have access to, and is also a great learning experience as it shows how everyone works differently. Some submissions can really surprise you with their innovative responses to the challenges of the location, the brief, and the budget and programme.
4) What tends to excite you, initially, about submissions you really like?
This might sound superficial but the very first thing that excites me is the quality of the submission document itself! Perhaps it’s because I’m a designer, but I really appreciate it when teams take the time to prepare a well-designed submission with eloquent and concise writing, powerful graphic design, and strong photography. Not only does it provoke a far more engaged response from the judges, but it also shows that the team really cares about their project. Obviously, you can’t judge a book by its cover, and this is why it’s essential to visit the sites and see the projects in person – but a good submission is the best possible start.
5) What do you see as a key benefit of entering the awards?
Prestige and recognition are obvious benefits, for the professional team but also the client. But there is a also a less obvious, ‘lateral’ benefit to the whole process. A BCO award judges excellence across all aspects of creating a workplace, and bearing the criteria of the awards in mind right through the project is an excellent compass to guide teams. In short, everyone should approach every project as a potential BCO award winner – it’s a great incentive.
6) What have you learned from judging the BCO awards entries?
Three things stand out. First, that we are very fortunate to work in an extremely talented industry where the competition is impressive, and there is no room for complacency, half-baked solutions, or just following the status quo. Second, that everyone works differently – some projects in particular amazed me with their innovative ideas, often very simple but incredibly effective. Third, it really opens your eyes to the judging process and shows that an award winning project needs to consider every possible angle.
7) Have there been any trends?
Seeing the various shortlisted projects really reinforced the trend that we’re seeing consistently across the industry – that workplaces are no longer just ‘a place to go and work’ but they are hubs for communities of people, they are talent-attractors and talent-retainers, they are flagships and sources of great pride for the businesses that work there, and they don’t have to be ‘boring offices’ – they can be great fun.
8) What have you been most impressed with?
As someone who lives and works in London it’s easy to get sucked into the buzz and hype that exists in and around our capital. But the incredibly high standard of quality in all the regional entries shows that our industry is a very level and competitive playing field across the country. I saw some of the most innovative, forward thinking and creative solutions in submissions outside of London – which is doubly impressive as very often these projects don’t have the budgets available within the M25.
9) As a judge, what are your hopes for the judging process next year? In other words, as a judge what would you like to tell applicants and potential awards applicants about the rigor of the process?
I would say that everyone should aim to make every project the best it can be – start by thinking ‘this project will win a BCO award when it’s complete’ and hold that thought throughout. It is only with this unwavering commitment to excellence that projects can qualify – the competition is fierce and the process is highly rigorous – but having seen the quality of this year’s submissions, I am immensely proud of our industry and I have no doubt that next year us judges will all be ‘wowed’ again!
- The BCO National Awards Dinner is taking place on 2 October 2018.
- Entries for the 2019 BCO Awards open on 3 October 2018. The questions don't tend to change year on year, so if you would like to start preparing your entry, download the entry guide.