Welcome back, Bill Bensley!

Gardener, fisherman, explorer and lover of dogs and all things natural, Bill Bensley is also one of Asia’s best known and respected architects and designers. Since opening his own studio in Bangkok in 1989, he has established an enviable reputation for designing some of the world’s most iconic hotels, resorts, homes and even palaces.

Bill has kindly agreed to return as part of our international judging panel for A&D Awards 2021. Here he tells us why….

W​hy did you agree to judge again this year?

I’m honored to be invited to judge the A&D Awards once more this year! It is always exciting to see the freshest, wildest ideas out there, and being able to comment on designs from new talent feels like a great way to give back to an industry which has done so much for me. I am humbled when we receive awards at BENSLEY and consider it a privilege to be a judge.

What’s the best thing about being a judge in the A&D Awards?

Its fun! We are often on the receiving end of feedback so its nice to be on the other side of the table, not to mention its really inspiring to see projects which might not have been revealed or built yet.

How important is it to recognise excellence in architecture and design?

I used to have a tough client who would always start a meeting nitpicking our work, rather than taking the time to actually take in the beauty of it before speaking. Eventually I told them that as designers, we work not for the paycheck, but to make beautiful things! So, they must first point out 7 excellent aspects of the design, before asking for changes. Their attitude changed a great deal after that. Recognising excellence in our work means everything to a designer.

Why does daring design – that challenges the status quo – make good business sense?

No client wants to feel like their design is a replica of what someone else has. Everyone wants their project to feel unique, with a verve and DNA that is different to any other project in the world.

What was the most important award (of any kind) you have won and why?

Any award we receive for sustainability, especially when it comes to Shinta Mani Wild, is very special to me. One award which meant a great deal was the Travel +Leisure Global Vision Awards 2021, where I was very kindly awarded for making Sustainability a priority in projects like Shinta Mani Wild (photographed below) and Capella Ubud.