Dom-Ino Pavilion by Atelier XI, photography by Zhang Chao

Xi Chen on Future-Made Spaces

  •   28 February 2022

Architecture and design, as an industry, is propelled forward by those who chose to push its boundaries, resetting what we can expect from our built environment. While sometimes, these visionaries are our most known names from established firms, other times they are up-and-comers, trailblazers set on charting their own course. It is these people that are propelled to centre stage at the INDE.Awards, where the annual Prodigy category shines a light on the next wunderkind.

As we look back on past winners of this category with our returning category partner Milliken, a collection emerges of names who have grown to leave their own distinguished mark on current design vernaculars. From the sensory, evocative spaces of ACME and Studio Esteta, to Flack Studio’s inimitable residential interiors and the layered, considered approach of Other Architects, the category’s alumni are a who’s who of today’s most respected architects and designers.

Caulfield North by Flack Studio, photography by Anson Smart

In 2021, the INDE.Awards recognised perhaps our most ambitious Prodigy yet, China-based Xi Chen. Founder and principal designer of his eponymous studio Atelier XI, Xi Chen has created a name for himself with a collection of public and cultural projects that play with silhouette and materiality. Aiming to create spaces that interact with their unique environmental context, Xi Chen has built libraries, pavilions and installations that have a story-book quality that almost transcends reality.

“Being named Prodigy was a magical moment for me in 2021,” said Xi Chen. “I personally believe the younger years of an architect are very tough and have many obstacles to overcome, on both financial and creative aspects. Therefore I think this Prodigy award really means a lot as it put attention on emerging talent. It’s a big encouragement for younger generation.”

Peach Hut by Atelier XI, photography by Zhang Chao

With entries open for the 2022 INDE.Awards, our jury are eagerly awaiting the new field of Prodigies. At a time where so much of what we know is being contested, inverted and challenged, the scope for true vision is ripe and the stage is set for those designers determined to make their own mark. Xi Chen’s win shows how the most progressive architecture can often come in structures we often overlook…

“I’m currently doing mostly public projects, ranging from very tiny public toilet in the park, to bigger kindergarten schools, art exhibition hall and sculptural park. I wish no matter how small these projects are, they can bring some beautiful moments for general public to experience.”

Starry Ally by Atelier XI, photography by Atelier XI

Joining us once more for this journey is category partner Milliken, whose commitment to celebrating up-and-coming talent extends into the fabric of their own brand. Through their joint initiative with The Designers Institute of New Zealand – “To the Floor” design competition, Milliken uncover designers and promote their work through a permanent collection with the flooring brand, where the winning designer have their concept manufactured and adopted in projects across the world.

“We are proud to showcase emerging design talent to the world through our inaugural carpet design competition “To The Floor”,” says Milliken Managing Director, Shaneel Deo. “As a company, we believe the next generation of our industry are ushering in a new age of design and creativity that considers our relationships with our world, its environment and its people.”

Themed: The Life Force and inspired by circular flow of living systems, the 2020 winner of “To The Floor”, Ashley Rose Oswin, created an organic, serpentine piece that speaks to New Zealand’s South Island landscape and country. Titled Circular Relationships, the piece is a visualisation of the interconnectedness and circularity throughout our world, a continuous seamless repeat pattern acknowledging the complex relationships, shared energy and reciprocity between all things.

(Left) Ashley Rose Oswin (Right) “Circular Relationships”

Providing an insight, Designer Ashley Rose Oswin says, “It was an amazing experience to be involved in the entire design process, collaborating with an industry and global leading company to develop a collection from initial concept drawings to market ready products. Competitions such as “To The Floor” offer young designers such as myself, incredible opportunities to showcase and be recognised for our work on a scale we never could have imagined.

With an established commitment to the continued promotion of up-and-coming talent and innovative, progressive design, Milliken’s partnership of The Prodigy category ensures the stage is set for another celebration of architecture and design’s next big thing.

The INDE.Awards Prodigy category is proudly partnered by Milliken.

Entries to the 2022 INDE.Awards close on 10/03/2022 at 23:59 AEDT. Entries can be started, submitted and modified here and should be entered according to the awards’ category criteria.