Saab Oz sponsors design competition

Last night saw the awards for the Young Interior Designer of the Year, 2006, presented in Melbourne.

The awards are co-sponsored by belle magazine and Saab. TS regular, Turbin, was at the awards ceremony and provided this report….

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Belle is a respected Australian design and lifestyle magazine focusing particularly on the best of architecture and interiors in Australia and abroad. What do these awards, then, have to do with Saab?

Well, Saab are the major sponsor of this award, which is now in its second year. Interior design students from all over the nation are invited to compete and last night the three finalists were presented along with their concepts, and the winner announced. Each received a Seiko watch (Seiko being a minor sponsor) but the winner gets a year with a 9-3 Linear SportCombi with sports pack and roof rails along with the prestige of magazine exposure.

The event was held in Poliform, a high-class furniture store in Richmond with stores nation-wide. Of note was the fact that there was no less than four 9-3s officially on display outside the event with another sedan parked immediately across the road (not sure if this was part of the display or not). Notably absent was any sign of a 9-5. To be fair though, the Saab 9-3 SportCombi is the official sponsor of the event.

The entrance to the store was laid with red carpet and rope barriers and flanked by a blue Anniversary Convertible and a silver SportCombi (the prize), both on stands. On the street were parked a parchment silver Aero SportCombi and a 2007 Aero Convertible. Saab banners on the street helped spell it out.

Guests were greeted at the door and asked for business cards to be drawn for the door prizes (2 pairs of Hugo Boss sunglasses) and immediately offered a Vodka-tini. Inside was quite a bustling event with at about 100 people interspersed with the furniture displays. Two video screens displayed some beautiful Saab ads that really should be shown on TV everywhere. On the walls were a couple of nicely printed fabric posters proclaiming the Saab 9-3 SportCombi as sponsor. Belle magazines were on most surfaces for people to browse and some couples were lounging about doing just that. A DJ deck was set up to one side of the entrance and some appropriately stylish background music was being pumped through the store.

After about an hour of mingling and been offered endless vodkas, champagne, mineral waters and exquisite finger foods, the crowd’s attention was requested. Following an introduction from Helen Kapalos (MC for the evening, TV newsreader and long-time Saab owner), the editor-in-chief of Belle gave a background on the magazine and the awards. He was followed by Parveen Batish, boss of Saab Oz, who answered the question in many peoples heads, “why is Saab a sponsor of this design event?”

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He explained a bit about Saab’s history, its impending 60th anniversary, the purity of the original URSAAB, and Saab’s form-follows-function ethos. I guess one thing that surprised me a little is that Mr Batish seemed a little nervous as a public speaker. Further exploration indicated that he’d just jumped off a plane following a hectic week, which is hardly an ideal preparation for a public engagement. That said, he clearly comes across as a nice and genuine guy who is finally looking forward to summer after two winters in succession due to his move from the UK earlier this year.

Outside, after the formal presentation, Mr Batish personally handed the keys to the winner, young Mr Campagnino who has just completed his studies here at RMIT and whose winning submission involved redevelopment of a shopping strip to become an open architecture of shops and interactions. Mr Campagnino has until now been driving a Suzuki Swift so I can imagine at the end of the 12 months with the Saab he will have to be prised out of it with a crowbar.

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With the night’s formalities over, the screens returned to the loop of Saab ads and guests were invited to stay on and reminded to grab a gift-bag on their way out.

The contents of said gift-bag? Latest issue of Belle magazine, mini bottle of Absolut Peach, a chunky Saab pencil, a kikki.K notepad or two, and brochures from all involved sponsors including the latest Saab magazine and a ‘World of Saab 2006’ brochure which has a nice canned profile of Saabs design, safety and turbo-charging along with a profile of the model range.

These gift-bags represent the whole evening in a nutshell, which is a strategic bundling of many like-styled companies to share and collectively develop their combined customer base. Belle supplied the publicity, Saab: the funds and a prize, Seiko: prizes, Poliform: venue and Absolut: the fuel. ‘Incidentally’ the latest Saab mag has an article about kikki.K’s founder Kristina Karlsson and her meeting with Saab’s Chief Designer of Colour and Trim Maria Thunberg. Also the latest Belle has a double page Saab ‘Iconvertible’ ad.

All in all a brief but well executed evening with all involved seeming to have a good time. This is the sort of event that helps to build customer loyalty and strengthen and inform the brand dentity. Having attended a couple of Saab affiliated events like this helps makes Saab’s involvement in the upcoming Documenta 12 exhibition in Germany, for example, quite logical and meaningful and helps re-inforce Saab’s role in the Auto world as a stylish vehicle for free-thinkers.

More events like this: Bring em on!

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Parveen Batish (Saab Oz), Helen Kapalos (MC), Neale Whitaker (belle magazine), and Rob “winners are grinners” Campagnino.

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My thanks for Turbin for doing a great job on this writeup and so promptly too. Consider this comment a voucher for 1 free T-bone at my expense next time I’m back home in Melbourne.

Thanks also to Saab Oz for providing the photos on request.

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