Khuan Chew of KCA takes home Lifetime Achievement award

CID Awards 2014

After making its debut three years ago, the Commercial Interior Design editorial team has, once again, presented the Lifetime Achievement award to an individual who has stood out throughout the industry for the past years.

This year’s winner has demonstrated a profound influence on the region’s built environment and approach to design, while achieving significant milestones.

Khuan Chew, principal and founder of KCA International has been awarded this prestigious prize in celebration of her stunningly iconic projects in the region including the world renowned Burj Al Arab, Madinat Jumeirah, Mina A Salam, Qatar’s Doha Club and Al Qasr Hotel.


The CID team believes that Chew, as well as being an inspiring leader in her field of practice and a creative visionary, she is also someone who has played an influential role in the direction of the region’s design industry.

Although Chew was out of the country and was not able to personally attend the ceremony, she had sent in a video of herself accepting the prize and sharing her views and experiences.

Chew highlighted contractors, suppliers and clients as the building blocks of a designer and said that one cannot function without the whole team working in harmony with one another.

“The whole role that is played by suppliers, products that are so important in what we have defined in our solutions for the work. They are all designed by designers and I really would like to thank each and every one who have been involved in finding the right products and the right finishes and furniture and has helped me in my career so far,” she said.

Moving on to contractors, she said: ” I would like to say that a designer is only good as his/her contractor. You can design something really great but make sure that your contractor can build it otherwise it is your fault always. So make sure you have a very good and understanding and equally creative contractor.”

And finally, speaking of clients, Chew commented: A designer is only as good as his/her client. Here is a brilliant example of Dubai that I have been part of putting Dubai on the map. First project of mine is the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, or commonly known as JBH. I used to call it the Jolly Big House because it really was such an important project and a beautiful project and it was such a huge project- huge hotel but its very human in scale and really big, friendly hotel.”

Continuing to speak of her accomplishments, Chew said: “I helped put Dubai on the map, and certainly Dubai helped put me and KCA on the map.”

But of all her projects, Burj Al Arab “was the most fortuitous”.

“I think that when we were appointed in 1997, the industry was really very different to what is it today. My team and I had limited resources to seek out special, unique products and finishes. The internet explosion had not happened yet in 1997 and I think that the world was a much bigger place then. However I think we succeeded in making Burj Al Arab look magnificent, full of wow factors, thanks to the team and the contractors, and of course, thanks to the client,” she said.

She concluded: “The element of surprise was the brief, and the man behind all this vision is ofcourse, High Highness Sheikh Mohammed. He was the driving force behind it all and to be honest it is really his design- I was only his tool. I was his ears, his eyes, and his hands to make it all work.

“Certianly, I have never worked on anything like it before nor since. Therefore, I wish to dedicate this award to High Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.”



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