After an incredible three-month journey of selecting the top 8 finalists, and visiting South Africa’s best kitchen designs in person, the Caesarstone Kitchen of the Year competition culminated in a sumptuous awards lunch at one of the best restaurants in the country. The Restaurant at Waterkloof Wine Estate received top billing at the Eat Out Awards the week of the competition awards lunch, not only winning the enviable position of 3rd best restaurant in the country, but the coveted title of Chef of the Year too. With so much buzz around the exquisite venue, Chef Gregory Czarnecki could not have bestowed his culinary delights on a more enthusiastic audience. Elle Decoration, VISI, Habitat, House & Garden, Real Estate, Garden & Home, Architecture SA, Taste, Eat Out and SA Homeowner were just some of the print titles in attendance, with The Home Channel, Afternoon Express, competition finalists and members of the kitchen design industry present, ready to celebrate the outcome of an exhilarating competition. The Caesarstone Kitchen of the Year competition is judged ‘blind’ by a diverse panel of experts. Bradley van den Berg, executive producer of Cardova; Bielle Bellingham, former editor of Elle Decoration; Mor Krisher, head of product design for Caesarstone International; Philip Richards, original winner of the Caesarstone Kitchen of the Year competition and brand director for blu_line kitchens; and celebrity chef, Karen Dudley, were the five judges who were tasked with selecting the finalists and winners. On reflecting on being a part of the judging panel, Philip Richards found the experience an instructive one, “I found it interesting to see where local kitchen design is currently. Whether the company offers a local or imported product, the design is still done locally, so the competition was an interesting reflection on the state of design in the industry”. Hailing from Caesarstone’s international headquarters, competition judge, Mor Krisher, brought an ‘outsider’s’ perspective to the competition, “It is so exciting to see how much people love their kitchens and care about their appearance. We tried to choose the best kitchens according to trends, planning and harmony of materials, but it was heart-warming to see how each kitchen took on the personality of the people who lived in it”. The competition was divided into two categories, local and international kitchens, with two finalists selected for the imported category and six finalists for the local category. Each of the eight finalists were then showcased in five-minute episodes and broadcast on The Home Channel and YouTube. The finalists in both categories had their eyes fixed firmly on the prize: the illustrious title, R100,000, and a KitchenAid hamper worth R20,000. A unanimous decision during the second round of judging saw the panel recognise Sam Edmeades and Paul Raymer from Inside Living (Garden Route) as the imported kitchens category winners, while Michele Throssell and Amy Kidger of Michele Throssell Interiors took first place in the local category. Designer Sam Edmeades is quite emotional about the win, “This is the most incredible feeling and actually quite surreal. I can’t believe that we’ve won! I’ve been following this competition for a few years now and so just to be a finalist, let alone the winner of our category, is just amazing. I’m so proud of Paul and I for what we have achieved with this design”. Owner of Inside Living (Garden Route), James Hart, was glad his company participated in the competition, “We are thankful to Caesarstone for allowing us the opportunity and platform to display what is our passion, to such a wide and varied audience. It has been a fantastic experience”. Local kitchens category winner, Michele Throssell of Michele Throssell Interiors, was delighted, “We were incredibly passionate about this project from the beginning and for 27 months poured over every minute detail of the design - not because there was potentially a prize at the end of it but because we fell in love with the space and the vision we had for it, and there was no other option than to see that dream realized,” she says. Michele continues, “For us, the beauty of this kitchen is that it is not only fantastically functional but also blends beautifully into, and complements, each element in this amazing space: a true example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. We are so excited and flattered that our love for this project has been rewarded this way. This was truly any designer's dream job!”. Design competitions help to lift the industry and elevate designers’ profiles in the media and in the eyes of the public. According to Caesarstone South Africa’s marketing director, Trevor King, the vision for the competition is a big one, “We are exceptionally passionate about design because we believe in the intrinsic value of beauty and excellence. Bringing South Africa’s top kitchen designs to the world is in our DNA – we just hope we’ve helped to inspire the industry as a whole and challenged designers to keep pushing the boundaries.” Long-time affiliates of the competition, Caesarstone welcomed another year of partnership with KitchenAid. "We are very proud to again support Caesarstone’s Kitchen of the Year Awards in 2016. We are happy to make a small contribution to the excitement that is the hunt for South Africa’s best kitchen design and congratulate Caesarstone on a well executed and rewarding competition,” says Dr Susanne Reuther, Head of KitchenAid Africa After an exhilarating event, kitchen designer and judge, Philip Richards, sums up where the design industry needs to focus its attention going forward, “I do believe that there are many talented designers in the kitchen industry, but at the same time we are now needing to push the boundaries where we see designs that reflect not only the European trends, but more than that the needs and desires of a South African clientele. We need to work hard at taking what we know and the materials we have available locally and internationally and begin to explore designs that push the boundaries of authenticity, helping clients to discover their own story.” Subscribe to the Caesarstone mailing list and follow us on social media to keep on top of all of our latest brand news and design inspiration. If you’re renovating or building a new kitchen, make sure you visit www.caesarstone.co.za to pick out your perfect Caesarstone countertops for the kitchen design of your dreams! Which were your favourite kitchen designs in this year's competition? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to enter the incredible final Kitchen of the Year viewer competition this week! Take a look at the awards gallery for all the photographs capturing special moments from the day.
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