Shaw Contract is once again celebrating the optimism of design and its ability to positively impact our communities and our planet. Now in its 18th year, the Shaw Contract Design Awards take a closer look at spaces that are inspiring new ways of working, learning, healing, and thriving. By sharing the work of international designers who have the same commitment to creating a positive impact on interiors as the brand, Shaw Contract continues to highlight how design can transform interior spaces and enrich lives. From innovative healthcare facilities that promote healing and well-being to workplaces fostering creativity and collaboration, all the projects submitted have been inspiring to us all.
The 2023 Shaw Contract Design Awards were judged by a panel of international luminaries, who considered overall design intent alongside the brand’s four People Together Planet Forever ambitions: Material Health, Circular Economy, Carbon Impact and Diversity, and Equity & Inclusion. Over 650 submissions from 40 countries gave them a lot to consider, with only 39 projects emerging as Best of Region Winners. These winners were then eligible for the next round of judging – Best of the Globe.
A smaller jury was responsible for choosing the best of the best. Each Best of Globe Winner is awarded a $2,000 USD charitable donation in their studio’s name to the organization of their choice, as well as a trophy designed and hand-made by Singapore-based crochet artist Kelly Limerick using Eco Solution Q yarn.
Join Design Milk in celebrating the accolades of Eckenhoff Saunders, HOK, Tatsuro Sasaki Architects, SWOT Design Group, and Rezen Studio! Keep reading to learn more about each of their standout projects.
Featured Product: Community Collection
Location: Subiaco, Australia
Photos: Jack Lovel
As the world’s leading gold miner, Newmont is widely recognized for its environmental, social, and governance practices. The workplace reflects its culture and aspirations, and is a functional, flexible, forward-looking tenancy for a future that supports a remote first approach.
It’s an example of the evolving office, which can respond to rapid changes in business operations. Completed during the pandemic, the hybrid workspace has plenty of social spaces for informal interactions, as well as generous meeting rooms for more traditional collaboration. A “work club” approach to the floor plan provides settings that support productive interaction, whether casual or planned.
Sustainability principles were observed throughout the project, particularly through the reuse of existing furniture. “The innovative reuse of furniture added an intriguing layer of complexity to the design,” said Lima. “It’s quite commendable how seamlessly they integrated reused furniture into the overall aesthetic. From my perspective, this is a noteworthy achievement.”
The project also includes a selection of Cradle to Cradle certified flooring by Shaw Contract. Low VOC paint and acoustic panels made from recycled materials are also featured in the design. Daylight from the perimeter glazing has been maximized through spatial planning to reduce the need for electric lighting.
“What stands out the most to me is the incredible comfort and coziness it exudes. What truly sets this apart from the ordinary office environment is the thoughtful allocation of social spaces,” shared Wong. “I appreciate the design aesthetics; it’s not overly polished but rather smart and functional. I believe this is precisely why I’m so drawn to this project; truly a hybrid work club for an agile workforce.”
Featured Product: Forum Collection Custom Rugs
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Photos: Kendall McCaugherty, Hall + Merrick + McCaugherty Photographers
345 North Morgan is an 11-story, ground-up, Class A commercial office building in Chicago’s Fulton Market. Located adjacent to the metro tracks, the design by Eckenhoff Saunders drew inspiration from the neighborhood’s industrial history along with the scale and luxury of classic railway stations. The lobby is entered through a stately two-story barrel arch – a motif repeated throughout the interior and mirrored on the floors with custom area rugs by Shaw Contract. The commissioned artwork in the lobby was woven with textile scraps, some of which were repurposed from upholstery in the building.
“What truly captivated me, particularly in the lobby, was the ingenious repurposing of upholstery fabric from the building to fashion a striking central feature that harmonizes beautifully with the soaring ceilings,” said jury member Karen Wong, Design Director & Partner at ArchitectureFARM. “This project showcases a masterful utilization of raw materials, striking a balance between an industrial aesthetic and contemporary modernity.”
The building’s footprint prioritizes flexibility and equitable access to daylight on 23,000-square-foot office floors, which feature 13-foot ceilings and near floor-to-ceiling windows. Each level also includes a large private outdoor terrace with city views. Finishes and materials are raw and durable with exposed concrete floors, walls, and ceilings, while soft textiles and area rugs provide warmth and comfort.
The amenity spaces promote health and wellness by offering opportunities for social connection, retreat, and physical activity in the fitness center. Meanwhile, the flexible conference space doubles as a coworking library with booths. Perhaps best of all, the plant-filled glass box Conservatory provides a year-round connection to sunlight and nature with access to the wraparound terrace in warmer months.
Jury member Amanda Moore, Associate Principal Interior Design at Wardle shared, “This project exemplifies the direction workplaces should strive for. It encapsulates a profound sense of tranquility and well-being, emphasizing human-centric design rather than solely relying on cutting-edge technology. It signifies a shift away from the conventional task-driven office environment towards a more holistic approach.”
Featured Product: Community & Suited Collections
Location: Toronto, Canada
Photos: Joel Klassen
Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global firm helping leaders in business and society address their most pressing issues. The firm’s Toronto team sought a new Canadian headquarters to connect clients and staff while highlighting their history, their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) values, and to foster an environment where employees can do their best work. The HOK team designed a space where you can immediately understand that BCG is part of the community of leaders shaping Canada’s future, with sustainability at the forefront.
The building the headquarters is located within has earned a WELL Health-Safety Rating, it will also attain LEED Platinum core and shell certification and WELL Platinum Certification. The space supports BCG’s commitment to climate change in its client work and its own operations.
Another goal was to create a work environment that gives back to workers, with employee health and wellness being as important as environmental impact. Upgrades were implemented to increase fresh airflow, while low-flow fixtures and circadian lighting cut down on energy costs. And with open spaces placed along the perimeter, daylight can come in and filter through the space.
“The strategic harnessing of natural light, coupled with the creation of purposeful spaces around it, elevates this area into an exceptional office environment. Not only is it a visually stunning space, but it’s also executed with utmost excellence,” shared juror Rachita Khanna, Associate Director, Design at SWBI Architects.
A state-of-the-art gym and bike storage – transportation that doesn’t emit greenhouse gases – encourage movement and physical fitness. Nourishment stations stocked with healthy snacks, coffee, and kombucha taps provide easy access to healthy foods and drinks. Elsewhere, wellness rooms include shower facilities with towel service, a mother’s room, therapy rooms, and sound therapy rooms. The prayer room is equipped with a space where mental health counselors can meet with staff to provide services.
The new office also includes amenities to meet the needs of the neurodiverse population. Design features include sustainable elements, circadian lighting temperatures, acoustical treatments that provide buzz-y and quiet spaces, music, and furniture that promotes movement and posture changes.
The curated art, objects, and greenery within the space come from Canadian artists and vendors. Materials and furniture were chosen to bring in the comforts of home with ergonomics in mind, including layered wood tones, hand-troweled plaster, textured brick veneer, and leather wrapped pulls.
“The continuity in design elements is remarkable, evident in the subtle curves of the sofas mirroring the workstation layouts and lighting fixtures echoing the same round-cornered motif seen in the double-height spaces. This consistent design language is reflected in even the smallest details, particularly the lighting fixtures,” said juror Carina Lima, Design Director at Swiss Bureau Interior Design Company, Dubai. “Additionally, the judicious choice of materials introduces a touch of residential luxury to the workplace, featuring textured fabrics, hints of gold, and touches of leather strategically placed to elevate the space without deviating from its core identity.”
Featured Product: Shifting Fields Collection
Location: Kumamoto City, Japan
Photos: Atsushi Nakamichi
OMO5 Kumamoto is centrally located overlooking Kumamoto Castle, the symbol of Kumamoto City. Built on Mt. Chausu and surrounded by nature, pulling the scenery of the castle and the bustle of the city into the hotel was a must.
“One aspect that stood out significantly to me was the project’s unwavering commitment to sustainability,” shared juror Fernando Zabala, Design Director at Gensler LATAM. “However, what sets this project apart is its exceptional connection to a specific historic site across the street. The deliberate selection of materials, textures, and shapes seamlessly integrates with the site’s context.”
Zabala continued, “A unique selection of elements consistently permeates the entire building. It’s not just about a single space; it’s a holistic approach. The clever vertical layout, seamlessly connecting the street and elevating the experience, left a lasting impression, especially the flooring design, which exudes intricate details throughout.”
The public space has a deck terrace connecting the inside and outside, a “topography” to connect the city and Kumamoto Castle with the hotel. On the uneven terrace there are various places to enjoy: a sofa to relax, a cafe space to enjoy conversation and meals, and a gathering space for groups.
The materials and colors of the earth created by Kumamoto have also been included. Brick tile walls with an image of red soil, stone pavements of castles, tiles of Kumamoto Castle turned into rubble by an earthquake, and red gradation carpets/shifting fields that are unique to the region all make their mark. Each choice expresses the locality through resources unique to the area.
“What sets this project apart is its ingenious utilization of materials, clever play with lighting, and a profound connection to its locale,” Khanna said. “Despite what I strongly suspect were budget constraints, what impressed me the most was their remarkable sensitivity to material selection and their brilliant execution of these materials in a coherent narrative.”
Featured Product: Shifting Fields Collection & Composed COREtec
Location: Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Photos: SWOT Design Group
Naelofar, a brand known for Muslim modest wear, has grown exponentially in the recent past. The move to an office space of over 7,000 square feet and a bright façade provides a welcoming environment for staff and better conveys the brand.
Inspired by the ideology that connection is a crucial component in building a productive and efficient workplace, SWOT Design Group aimed to capture the essence of nurturing relationships with a polished and creative space, while also conveying the brand’s professional and personalized approach.
The office offers a sleek look but is also functional and flexible. Using an open plan, exposed ceilings created height and were combined with carpet and vinyl flooring for a modern yet timeless feel. A featured front-of-house area with a waiting space that can be reconfigured for training sessions or work functions, flexible work zones that include a boardroom, client-facing meeting rooms, and a pantry area all built on the experience.
“I found this project to be particularly impressive despite its relatively compact size. The layout forgoes a conventional reception area and instead transforms the front space into a versatile multi-function area. What’s striking is that this space can be viewed from virtually anywhere within the office, thanks to its thoughtful furniture design,” said Wong. “It’s remarkable how they’ve managed to maximize functionality and aesthetics in such a small space.”
Introducing greenery was also important, as plants can enhance the aesthetic of a space while improving the physiological and physical well-being of employees. Placed indoors they can also absorb noise to help create a more focused, relaxed environment. Here, plants are placed around discussion areas and the perimeter of workspaces. Another element embraces the incoming sunlight – perforated mesh – to further emphasize a sense of openness, sharing beautiful vistas, and connecting beyond the building.
“I find this design to be absolutely captivating due to its seamless connection with the exterior. Everything on the interior is thoughtfully designed to recede into the background, allowing the natural view to take center stage. Incorporating green elements further strengthens the connection to the beautiful surroundings, striking a delightful balance,” said juror Anthony Orasi, Partner at iN STUDIO. “The overall ambiance exudes a sense of tranquility and functionality, and despite the inclusion of traditional features, it maintains a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere.”