Designer of the Future was established in 2020 following the death of revolutionary designer Sir Terence Conran.
It aims to provide the next generation of creative talent with a unique opportunity to develop themselves and their ideas.
The award was created with the backing of The Marandi Foundation to ensure that new and upcoming designers could be supported and nurtured just as Sir Terence had done throughout his career.
He was a visionary who was said to have “moved Britain forward to make it an influence around the world.”
When it came to products, Conran voiced a philosophy of good design being ‘plain, simple, useful’, and it is these key qualities that this competition’s open brief considers.
As part of the first step in their creative careers, the competition is open to university graduates across the UK who are invited to submit designs from their degree for consideration.
The victors is determined by a panel of judges that find a product that successfully balances viable commercial potential and reflects Sir Terence Conran’s ethos.
This year, the panel included fashion designer Anya Hindmarch, architect Lord Norman Foster, and British Fashion Council Foundation co-chair and investor Narmina Marandi alongside senior executives from The Conran Shop.
The award winner receives a prize worth £40,000, consisting of a cash award of £3000 to support their design career and a three to six-month work placement at The Conran Shop headquarters in London.
While there, the winner has an opportunity to gain invaluable industry experience and can see their product developed and brought to market.
This year, the award was won by 23-year-old Kingston School of Art graduate Cameron Rowley.
Close to 100 newly-graduated design students entered, whittled down to 11 finalists, but it was the product and furniture designer who impressed the judges.
Rowley’s ‘One Step Ladder design is simple but effective, borne out of an observation that the everyday step stool found in the home is used so briefly, often for one step only, and is rather bulky.
His innovation aims to improve the footprint of the product whilse still facilitating its use.
The smaller, more ergonomic, design perfectly embodies Conran’s original views on what makes a ‘good design’.
The judges felt that the product’s purpose was easy to see and understand, and offered a simple solution to an everyday challenge in an aesthetically-pleasing way.
To quote the winner himself, the design holds an ‘inherent and unintentional beauty’ that can be found in understated everyday objects.
In fact, inspiration from utilitarian tools and other household items helped Rowley create such a simple but effective design.
The Designer of Future Award not only provides an important platform for young and emerging designers but also creates an opportunity to focus on innovation and sustainability.
If sustainability is prioritised at the beginning of the design process, the products we use and the spaces we inhabit will gradually influence our future and way of living to become more environmentally friendly and sustainable.
The recent winner of the award was asked for his thoughts on the future of design trends, and commented: “All my fellow designers have become conscious of our impact on the environment.
“It’s great to see so many designs which use sustainable materials and processes. I believe we have a primitive appreciation for utilitarian objects and beauty. If a design manages both, it will inevitably become timeless.”
The Designer of the Future Award is more than an award; it is a way to uphold the legacy of the late Sir Terence Conran, who always believed in supporting and encouraging young designers.
As stated by Javad Marandi, the award ‘will help enable future generations of designers to prosper and uphold the traditions he set‘.