MEET THE JUDGES - CHARLOTTE MCARTHY
What are you looking forward to most being part of the Surface Design Awards judging panel?
Firstly I’m delighted and humbled to be asked to co-chair the Surface Design Awards with Nimi Attanayake. Assessing the entries is always inspiring, unveiling new techniques and materials that push boundaries and I look forward to lively discussions with my talented co-judges as we evaluate the standout submissions. My goal is to approach each submission with an open mind. I hope the final decisions will be thought provoking.
What are you personally looking for in terms of entries?
I'm drawn to designs that elevate human experience through their emotional resonance and thoughtful integration. Entries that capture a sense of craft, connection and adaptability tend to resonate most strongly. Above all, I hope to find submissions that provoke conversation through compelling story-telling.
What advice would you give to those looking to submit a successful award?
Ensure your work highlights your unique talent and what makes your work distinctly meaningful. Consider all facets of sustainability and how your design promotes equality and most importantly, believe in the power of your work to inspire change.
Why are awards so important to architect and designers?
Awards provide vital recognition of outstanding work that progresses the field, incentivising excellence. They also spotlight diverse voices and foster community. Winning can validate career paths and attract new opportunities.
What are some emerging trends in materials you’ve noticed?
With supply uncertainties and carbon reduction mandates, circular strategies like reuse and recycling are surging. We are seeing more creative upcycling of salvaged goods alongside the rapid use of waste-based materials. Quiet yet thoughtful biophilic and non-toxic options are also growing, inspired by research into nature’s intelligence and it’s affect on our wellbeing. In addition, digital fabrication is allowing for incredible innovation and unprecedented customisation.
Sustainability is once again a leading criterion for every project, what’s your experience of successfully delivering sustainable solutions in what you do?
I'm incredibly proud to have contributed to projects at Heatherwick Studio pursuing innovative sustainable solutions. As a studio we are aware that sustainability requires customised strategies for each individual project. For instance, Google Bay View achieved LEED Platinum and Living Building status via adaptable workspaces, wetland restoration, geothermal piles and an extensive solar canopy. When designing the electric vehicle Airo, we developed a concept that cleans particulate pollution and provides flexible and healthy interior spaces. At Maggie's Yorkshire, we created healing environments through biophilic connections, prefabricated timber, and an ultra low-energy material-first approach. What ties these together is imagining sustainability as an opportunity for innovation centred on human and ecological health. There is always room for improvement but I'm proud of progress in delivering regenerative buildings that connect people to the living systems around them.
The theme of the 2024 Surface Design Show is ‘Mindful Living’, what does that mean to you?
To me, mindful living implies holistic awareness of one's impacts, and designing thoughtfully to nurture human and environmental wellbeing. It means creating regenerative spaces that nourish people. Material selection plays a key role in this through healthy, ethical choices that uplift communities. Ultimately, it's about creating human focussed solutions.