With the CEDIA Awards in early April fast approaching, Paddy Baker looks at some of the shortlisted entries and the integrators behind them – and finds a rich mixture of previous winners and first-time entrants in the twelve award categories
CEDIA has reported a 16% increase in entries to its 2011 Awards, with projects submitted by integrators from ten countries: UK, Netherlands, Cyprus, Portugal, South Africa, UAE, Italy, Belgium, Denmark and France. Turning to the shortlist, 21 companies, from seven of these countries, are battling for the honours – with a total of 36 nominations for 12 categories. There is also a large number of new entrants: seven of the companies on this year’s shortlist – Adept-is, Clever Association, Elytronic, Federal Technologies, Lewis Building Technologies, Sphere Custom Design and Studio LGL – are first-time entrants to the CEDIA Awards.
A couple of the award categories are beyond speculation: in both the Best Innovative Solution and Best Multi-Dwelling Installation, only one entry was of a standard that the judges felt met the relevant criteria. So Dutch integrator MR Domotica will pick up the innovation award for its custom-build motorised hidden television project, while SMC’s work at The Lancasters will earn the multiple dwellings gong.
Those entries aside, the integrator with the best chance of winning – statistically at least – is Bournemouth-based Dawsons Group, with a total of six nominations. That’s one-sixth of the entire nomination pool for the evening. What’s more, these are for six different projects in five different categories: Dawsons’ expertise is clearly broad-ranging, with projects selected in the Best Marine category (where Dawsons is competing against itself as well as against last year’s winner, Sensory International), and in various media room, home cinema and integrated home categories.
Dawsons is a family business formed in 1927, and now in its fourth generation of management – it was founded by the great-grandfather of the present managing director, Kevin Dawson. Originally a radio and TV retailer, the company moved into the home cinema market in the late 1980s. Its marine division was formed in 2006, winning industry awards in 2008 and 2009.
Apart from its shoo-in for Best Multi-Dwelling, SMC will be crossing its collective fingers for two Best Integrated Home projects. The Chelsea Family Home is shortlisted in the £30,000-£100,000 category, while Elysium House (previewed in the previous IE Residential) is one of the five shortlisted projects in the over £100,000 band.
Based in Clapham, south-west London, SMC was founded in 1993 by director Steve Moore, who had formerly set up renowned hi-fi dealership The Cornflake Shop. The company has teamed up with electrical retailer Best Buy, which launched in the UK last year, to provide custom installation services to its customers.
Another integrator with nominations in three categories is first-time CEDIA Awards entrant Elytronic – which is based not, as its name might suggest, in the Fens, but in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. It has two projects shortlisted: two in different media room categories and one integrated home.
FAB Audio Visual of St Albans, which dates from 2002, last year swept the board in the home cinema awards, winning in all three project value ranges: £40,000, £40,00-£100,000 and over £100,000. It will be hoping to repeat its success this year in the latter two categories.
Two first-time entrants from the UK have a single project in two categories: Adept-is (based in Rutland and London) and Clever Association (from Knaresborough, Yorkshire). Their respective projects Hutchinson’s Home and Pannal Hall are among the five nominees for Best Media Room under £15,000. Hutchinson’s Home is one of two entries selected for the Best Dressed Rack, while Pannal Hall is in the Best Integrated Home under £30,000 category.
But which projects will win? Will it be a villa in the Middle East or an English country house? A private home in South Africa or a French rural retreat? All will be revealed on Friday 8 April at One Mayfair in London.