On 21 August, our panel of 1.618 Education Initiative judges came together to assess this year’s competition entries. It was a long day of deliberating, but we were impressed with the level of entries and it was tough to try to choose our finalists. You can see the top 10 finalists here (and follow the PG Bison 1.618 Education Initiative Facebook page while you’re at it). Congratulations to them all!

While we’re homing in on our up-and-coming design talent, we’d also like to showcase some of South Africa’s best and brightest – our competition judges. Today we’re introducing Dale Friedman.

Dale is an Associate at Paragon Interface, which won the 2018 Society of British and International Interior Design’s Office Design award and best Interiors at the 2019 SAPOA Awards for its work on Discovery Place in Sandton. Dale has worked on a long list of impressive projects, including the likes of Alexander Forbes’ and Sasol’s Sandton office buildings, and the Sage offices in Midrand – workspaces that invite fun and collaboration while improving people’s quality of life. “For me, it’s important to consider whether the people going to work in a building are happy. How often do they get sick? Do you encourage movement? Are there external views? Is there natural lighting? My job is about how to enrich people’s lives,” he says.

Dale is serving on the 1.618 judging panel for the second year in a row and says that collaborative awards between industry and educational institutions are beneficial to both students and established industry designers. “I always say how great it is for me to see the talent coming up through the universities,” he says. “To me, the theme this year – The Race for Space – is quite critical. Locally and internationally, the race for space and the densification of cities is a pressing issue that I’m seeing in my work on an everyday basis. There have been a few innovative ideas this year, which are impressive and I’m glad to see those coming through.”

Another reason Dale believes competitions like this are important is that they give exposure to how much work goes into the design process and the competition itself – from the work by students, lecturers and universities to the selection process on behalf of the judges.

He adds that these awards give students the opportunity to gain insight into what skills they need to succeed in the workplace. “A lot of large practices are using Revit, for example, so students should know how to use the primary software that we’re using. With these kinds of insights, we hope to help develop and guide their syllabus by working more closely with the universities.”

He developed his own interest in interior design through exposure to shopfitting. He initially studied design as background, but found a passion for it, although he still thinks he may one day consider starting a shopfitting business.

As an award-winning designer with experience in everything from a 160m2 showroom to the 110 000m2 layout of Discovery Place, and the conversion of a warehouse into a call centre, Dale has much to offer both the current design industry and its future designers.