With about 25 years in the business, the managing director and interior designer understands the importance of keeping up to speed with what's new on the market.

This is why Ms Smith recently accepted the invitation to be a judge at Canada's national design expo and conference at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

It was her job to select the winners from about 100 entrants in the innovative lighting category at the exhibition called IIDEX/NeCon Canada. She had to examine the pros and cons in the very latest designs of lightbulbs, light strips, desk lights and exterior lights, which were all 'green' in design.

The three-day show, which took place at the end of September, welcomed about 10,000 people, including vendors and manufacturers from all over the world.

Ms Smith, who is originally from Canada, said: "I try to go to the exhibition every year and have been asked to judge a couple of times.

Picking a winner

"There are different categories for innovative awards from lighting to electrics and it's always hard to pick a winner.

"Going to this trade show allows me to see a lot of products; it's also a chance to see all the guest speakers and seminars. It shows the design community what is out there."

Ms Smith was invited to the exhibition in Toronto under an international travel subsidy programme.

As one of a panel of judges she reviewed pictures and write-ups about the new products in the classroom before seeing the products 'in action.'

The 'best in show' overall winning design was a slim line desk light with a base to charge your iPod or BlackBerry, which is available in three different heights. Ms Smith said she liked its "simplicity and multi-versatility."

OBMI has seven offices across the world and describes itself as "a global leader in architectural design and consulting."

The company is a leader in master planning, interior design and architecture for hospitality, residential and commercial spaces, trying to come up with a unique vision and design for each project.

OMBI is currently working on the re-development of the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. The company has previously worked on the interior design for big-name companies such as HSBC Bank of Bermuda, Bacardi and Lancashire Insurance Group.

Ms Smith "We design spaces with whatever new innovations come along. You always have to be on your toes as things change so quickly.

"I'm always on the lookout for new products for clients."

The company is particularly proud of its commitment to sustainability in design and development. Ms Smith in particular would like to see more products being recycled rather than going to landfill sites.


She said: "Containers come into Bermuda full but go back empty. As consumers on a small island we have to be more conscientious.

"And as designers we have to educate our clients in going green. People may have to pay a little more at the onset for the environmentally friendly products, but it will be worth it in the long run.

"It's all about sustainability and recycling and leaving a smaller footprint."

OBMI is currently working with Greenrock to help make Elliot Primary School Bermuda's first 'green' school. The school building in Devonshire is will be made more environmentally friendly; water and electricity consumption will be reduced. LED light bulbs, motion detectors on security lights and greener cleaning products will also be used.

Tough competition

Although Bermuda may be slightly lagging behind the rest of the world in eco-friendly technology, the company also promotes the use of wind turbines and solar panels.

Ms Smith said the island's "saturation of office space" meant that the latest trend was "raising the class" of existing offices to try to entice exempt companies to rent the space. With some office space sitting vacant in the newest of buildings, she said there was tough competition between those with space to rent out.

Ms Smith said: "Unfortunately an office space only has a lifespan of about 15 years, so after five or ten years many companies decide to upgrade.

"They want to have the latest of innovations, it starts with the energy saving lightbulbs then they want new flooring and everything in the bathroom has to be hands free.

"Office spaces are changing the urban environment and everyone is in competing in the rental market."


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