What is being done to support up and coming product designers in the UK?


According to the Design Council, the UK creative industries are valued at £76.9 billion a year.

Every hour, the sector contributes £8.8 million to the British economy and its rapid growth shows no signs of stopping.

However, it is clear to see that the climate of the past couple of years has left young, up and coming designers struggling.

As the world paused because of the Covid-19 pandemic, so to did vital opportunities for design students to learn, collaborate and find placements to kickstart their career.

With this in mind, The Designer of The Future Award was born out of a need to support, nurture and encourage young design graduates.

Following the death of the infamous Sir Terence Conran, The Conran Shop, with the support of The Marandi Foundation, recognised the need to keep his legacy alive.

Conran believed in uplifting the next generation of creative talent, and spent much of his career helping young designers into the industry.

He saw so many new designers’ raw talent and imagination, and The Designer of The Future Award aims to provide a platform for them.

It is aimed at recently-graduated design students who not only are now looking to the future, but also have a wealth of fresh and innovative ideas to share.

Graduates are invited to submit work from their degree projects to be reviewed by a panel of industry experts whose collective knowledge combines the key elements of successful product design; commercial viability, functionality and aesthetic appeal.

The 2021 panel of judges consisted of notable names, from architect Lord Norman Foster to fashion designer Anya Hindmarch and British Fashion Council Foundation co-chair and investor Narmina Marandi.

The Designer of The Future Award has seen great success over the past couple of years, with last year’s competition receiving almost 100 submissions from design graduates across the UK.

Many expressed joy at being offered the opportunity to showcase the best of their degree work after their usual exhibitions were cancelled because of government restrictions on gatherings to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

It was Sir Terence Conran’s ethos that good design should be plain, simple and useful, and through The Designer of The Future Award, graduates are encouraged to find design inspiration in everyday life and object.

The 2021 winner of the award, Cameron Rowley, impressed the judges with his ‘One Step Ladder’, which they felt embodied the very spirit of Conran’s legacy.

The young designer recognised the impracticality of the large footprint seen in everyday step ladders and, as with any good design, found a more elegant solution to a frequent challenge.

The judges felt that his creation was easy to understand, well-executed and would look great in any home.

It is this kind of simple, elegant, but entirely innovative design that The Designer of The Future Award seeks to draw out of the next generation of creative talent.

It is vital that there is continued support, nurturing and encouragement of new ideas to help guide designers into the industry.

Ultimately, The Designer of the Future Award hopes to play a small but integral part in ensuring young graduate designers across the UK have the platform they need.

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