Each spring, the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center hosts the Southeast Designers and Architect of the Year Awards to distinguish the region’s best and brightest in residential design, contract design and architecture. Though, like many things in the time of COVID, the festivities were delayed until the fall and looked a little different this year: The September 24 awards ceremony went virtual, and celebrated more finalists than ever before. The event anchored Discover ADAC, the design center’s annual fall market.

Out of the 18 finalists from across the Southeast, a panel of three judges—Veranda editor in chief Steele Marcoux, interior designer Alessandra Branca and architect Andrew Oyen of Ferguson & Shamamian Architects—named the award’s three winners: Summerour Architects in the architecture category, Blackberry Farm Design for contract design, and Melanie Turner Interiors for residential design. “Each finalist beautifully showcased a broad range of design across the Southeast, and our judges were certainly up for the challenge to narrow this incredible work down to our three winners,” says Katie Miner, general manager of ADAC.

For Atlanta-based Melanie Turner, who has won the award for residential design twice previously, receiving the 2020 award came as a pleasant surprise. “When we’d won in the past, we were told ahead of time,” she tells BOH. “This year, we weren’t, so we went into the evening assuming someone else had won.” Turner and her team had gathered for a socially distant pizza party during the virtual ceremony. “We were all laughing, because on the Zoom call, we could see another firm was having steak and Champagne, so we assumed that’s who the winner was. When they announced us as the winner for our category, I couldn’t even string two words together—I was in complete shock.”

A project by Summerour Architects
A project by Summerour ArchitectsCourtesy of ADAC

For Marcoux, it was the tremendous beauty and historical sensitivities of Turner’s work that set the firm apart. “The sophisticated design evokes a European sensibility yet feels right at home in a historic, Southern city home,” she says. “I also fell for the palette: Never before have neutrals felt so exciting, bringing such a range of emotion and style.”

Keith Summerour, the principal of Summerour Architects, feels that winning the architecture award has a special significance in 2020, when there has been an increased focus on the home. “Design is more appreciated now than ever before,” he says. “During this crazy year, ADAC has continued to promote the Southern sense of style and made us feel like family,” he adds. “The Southeast Designers and Architect of the Year Awards mean that, each year, there’s a higher standard to strive for—that makes us think about how our work can be better and how our design can go farther.”

Of Summerour’s work, judge Alessandra Branca says that the firm is not afraid of a challenge. “The ability for even the smallest of their projects to live grandly makes their work especially relevant during this particular point in time,” she says.

A project by Blackberry Farm
A project by Blackberry FarmCourtesy of ADAC

For Samantha Feuer, the win honors the whole team at Blackberry Farm, where she is senior designer. (The Tennessee firm grew out of the singular aesthetic of the sprawling luxury hotel and resort of the same name.) “Being recognized for our designs is a testament to the hard work and talents of each member of Blackberry Farm Design, and we are grateful for any opportunity to share and applaud the work our team does,” she says. Oyen attributes Blackberry Farm’s win to the timelessness of their work.

Turner says that the number of finalists this year—the most ADAC has ever had—made winning all the more special. “We all work so hard in this industry and we love what we do so much, but the validation from this panel feels great,” she says.

This story is a paid promotion and was created in partnership with ADAC.

Homepage photo: A project by Melanie Turner Interiors | Courtesy of ADAC

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