Who won the inaugural Designer of the Future Award?

The Designer of The Future Award was first established at the end of 2020 by The Marandi Foundation and The Conran Shop in honour of the late British designer Sir Terence Conran.

To uphold his legacy, this award seeks to provide the next generation of creative talent with a unique opportunity to spotlight their designs and take the first steps in their design careers.

Almost 100 recently graduated design students submitted work to the 2021 Designer of The Future Award, which was narrowed down to a list of 11 finalists by a panel of judges. The committee consists of individuals from across the design sector, including Architect Lord Norman Foster, Fashion Designer Anya Hindmarch and British Fashion Council Foundation co-chair and investor Narmina Marandi. The remainder of the panel included several senior executives from The Conran Shop who would be working closely with the winner to develop their product.

The panels’ key objective was to search for a design that not only has the potential to be a successful and marketable product but also stays true to Sir Terence Conran’s ethos of being plain, simple and useful.

After careful consideration, the panel concluded that one design stood out amongst the rest, which belongs to 23-year-old Kingston School of Art graduate Cameron Rowley. Rowley’s ‘One Step Ladder‘ is a simple but effective design that truly embodies everything the late Sir Terence Conran believed in.

This winning design was inspired by the graduate’s observation of everyday step stools found in homes. A common object, the step stool, is used so quickly and often for only one step up to reach a high shelf or cupboard, but its traditional design has a large footprint. As such, Rowley’s idea aimed to improve the overall design of the product whilst still allowing it to function in the same way.

The panel instantly saw the essence of Sir Terence Conran’s design ethos in Rowley’s product. The purpose and use was simple to understand, and it offered a more elegant solution to an everyday challenge with a clean and simple design.

When asked about his inspiration behind the One Step Ladder, Rowley discussed how his design was developed from exploring practical tools and other simple household items. He went on to say that he believes his final product holds an inherent and unintentional beauty that can be found in understated everyday objects.

With the support of The Marandi Foundation and The Conran Shop, the 2021 Designer of The Future Award winner received an incredible £40,000 prize. The award consists of a cash prize of £3000 that can be used to support their design career and a unique 3-6 month work placement at The Conran Shop HQ in London. Here, the winner has the opportunity to work alongside renowned designers to bring their products to life whilst gaining invaluable industry experience.

The Conran Shop established the award with the support of The Marandi Foundation to ensure upcoming designers are supported and nurtured, just as the late Sir Terence strived to do throughout his career. Conran believed young creatives were the future and, even in the latter end of his career, was adamant that the next generation of designers were encouraged to create a better world through design.

The Designer of The Future is so much more than just an award; it is a way to support graduates taking those first necessary steps towards their careers and encourage them to think big, think sustainably and think about the kind of world they want to help create through design.

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