Believe it or not, I once thought that having a great career and starting my own design company are my end goals. Not until this great opportunity presented itself to me did I realize that there is so much more I can do aside from designing buildings and managing a business.

Today, I sought to share with you what I think is another milestone in my professional journey.

As early as July 2019, I received an invitation from Nippon Paint’s Asia Young Designer Award or AYDA as what it is popularly known. At first, I thought it was just a random invitation, but I was actually in on a surprise.

I was invited to be a part of the panel of JUDGES!

Yes, you’ve read it right. I, myself, did a double-take as I have never thought of such an opportunity to be handed so easily to me. Nevertheless, it was an honor and a great privilege, so I accepted the invitation.

In the next couple of months, I started preparing for the event and started getting myself acquainted with the judging details and all. This was my first judging experience at a national level competition, and I wanted to share with you my takeaways from this opportunity.

Nippon Paint’s Asia Young Designer Award (AYDA): A Quick Preview of the Event

This month last year, January 2020, the most coveted Nippon Paint’s Asia Young Designer Award (AYDA) Philippines took place at the PETA Theater Center in Quezon City. This prestigious event is held annually and is open to Architectural and Interior Design students.

The panel of judges is another thing to look forward to; the industry’s well-established professionals and a few foreign ones are set to choose the winner.

Well, as an architect myself, I would have been ecstatic to join this design competition, but I was no longer eligible to be one of the contestants. This time, I was not presenting my work portfolio, rather I was given a much more fulfilling task— to select the cream of the crop from the pool of young and talented architecture and design students.

When I first received the invitation, I had mixed feelings, from disbelief and happiness to nervousness. You see, it is quite nerve-wracking to be lined up alongside the prominent names in the architecture industry.

Just to give you an idea who I have the privilege to be judging the architecture category with:

Imagine my excitement knowing that Ar. Ana Mangalino-Ling and Ar. Maria Benita Regala were former National Presidents of the United Architects of the Philippines. I was literally screaming in my head (a good scream of excitement, of course!)

Always so willing to support my fellow architects and those aspiring students, I jumped at this excellent opportunity and promised myself to help select the winner who deserves the prize.

The winner of the competition will have a chance to compete with the other best architecture and interior design students from other Asian countries. This happened in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam last March 2020. What’s more, the final winner will also have the opportunity to study at Harvard under the Graduate School of Design’s Design Discovery Program.

Knowing the winner will represent the Philippines and showcase Filipino’s ingenuity in terms of architecture and interior designs in an international platform, all the other judges and I were set and determined to only send the best from the country.

To give you a quick glimpse of how the judging process took place, here’s a timeline to serve as your guide:

January 7, 2020 – The initial judging happened wherein the top 10 were
selected out of the 225 entries.

January 16, 2020 -The top 10 entries were given a chance to present and
showcase their work through an oral presentation.

January 23, 2020 -This was the day of the awarding of the winners.

April 22 & April 29, 2020 – The mentoring day for the AYDA Philippines’ representative.

July 11, 2020 – The virtual international competition took place on this day.

You can learn more about this event at the Asia Young Designer Award official website. If you want to know the submission criteria for future reference (who knows, you might be the next big thing in the architecture and interior design industry), you can click here.

Things I Learned from Judging AYDA

As promised, I will share with you what I have come to realize with this experience. And hopefully, you all can learn something from this and use it when an opportunity of judging competitions comes your way in the future.

Start with smaller competitions.

Judging a national design competition like AYDA means a lot of work. It took a great amount of my energy and I gave all of my attention to the details of all the entries. That said, I would say it was a draining yet exciting and fulfilling experience.

However, I would never suggest for anyone to aim for big competitions immediately. If you can, start smaller and hone your judging experience in small-scale competitions first, and then you can work your way up. This will give you a lot of perspectives and judging will then be much easier for you.

Though AYDA was my first judging experience at a national level, I already had my fair share of competition judging in a smaller setting.

Take a lot of time to get acquainted with the work.

Never go to a war unarmed— they say. And that is exactly the same principle to follow when judging a competition.

Always find the time to scan through the details of the contest. You should familiarize yourself with the theme and guidelines of the competition. This will help you understand the objective better so that you can choose the deserving winner.

Build rapport and connections with your fellow judges.

Competitions of this caliber allow you to meet and successful group of people who share the same interest as you.

In fact, I had a great time talking to my co-judges Ar. Wee from Malaysia. Not only that, but I also got the chance to meet a seasoned interior designer from Malaysia as well, namely Dr. Fendarie Su. We had a very enriching conversation in which ideas and tips about the best practices of our profession were exchanged.

So, go ahead and take this opportunity to build connections and expand your network. It is ideal to have a healthy and encouraging atmosphere within the group.

Judging Nippon Paint’s AYDA surely was not only a one of a kind experience for me, but it was also a learning ground as well. I learned a lot from my co-judges and even get to share and input my ideas as well.

Enjoy the experience

There were a lot of good conversations that took place, and I just have to remind myself to always do my absolute best and enjoy it.

While it is okay to get worried at some point, don’t let your nerves get into you. You are there to judge the entries but also to enjoy the experience.

Want to read more of this event? Manilla Bulletin News wrote about it on their online site. You can check it out right HERE.

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