IN A glittering awards ceremony in the Houses of Parliament at the end of last year, six super-talented arts, design and fashion university students were rewarded for their creativity in the Designed for Business national competition.
The event was organised by creative think-tank BE OPEN and SBID for students to showcase their emerging talent, promote equal opportunities and nurture relationships between students and the commercial world.
Hundreds of students from 93 universities entered their work to one of five categories: Product Design; Art & Design; Fashion; Interior Design and Interior Decoration. One winner from each category was selected to receive £1000, while one lucky overall winner scooped a life-changing £30,000 to either help set up and progress their business or pay off their university fees.
We caught up with some of the winners to find out what they’ve been doing in the months since receiving their cash prizes:
Katarina Spenerova walked away with the overall £30,000 prize. The University of Dundee graduate, who was one of the Interior Design category finalists entered her work called PETAL – the concept for a modular design system allowing communities to grow in an organic way.
Spenerova plans to use at least some of her £30,000 prize-money to open her own studio. She says: “Setting up my own studio and workshop will follow once I’ve gained sufficient industry experience. When that happens, the prize money will be hugely important in meeting the financial cost of that. The only other investment I’ve made with the money so far is to fund a trip to Amsterdam to attend Frame Lab – an event dedicated to spatial design.”
Stefan Guiton of the University of the West of England came first in the Product Design category. His project Kulinda is a simple, low-cost pneumonia diagnosis device for babies living in developing countries. It features a sensor and algorithm that monitor the child’s breaths per minute – a light indicates if pneumonia might be present.
“With the £1000 prize, I have spent some of it ordering parts and electronics to use in the creation of my working prototype,” he said. “Following this, I will approach Unicef, the WHO and potentially venture capitalists, to provide me with funding to fulfil my vision of ending pneumonia deaths worldwide.”
Anna Cuinu of Heriot-Watt University was first in the Fashion category entry with a contemporary collection of “trans-seasonal knitwear” aimed at the two million-plus people in the UK living with sight loss. All the garments incorporate wooden ‘Feelipa’ buttons, which act as tactile markers indicating each garment’s colour.
She says: “Since receiving the prize, I have been working at the luxury knitwear factory Barrie Knitwear in Hawick as a trainee shima programmer, learning about the ins and outs of the knitwear industry, which has been exciting and really interesting. I have been saving my money until I have a clear way to invest the money into developing my winning project further or supporting new creative projects.”
Catherine Sinclair of Glasgow School of Art came top in the Interior Decoration category with a sustainable collection of knitted textiles that interprets human desire for hidden, secret places within nature. She’s now in the process of applying for a grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which will help get the interior knit range ready for market.
She said: “They are particularly interested in the innovative use of yarn and the sculptural results of combining these yarns with digital knit technology. I’m hoping to spend two to three months refining my collection and finding a manufacturer to work with in Scotland to make my blankets.”
Stephen Tozer of the University Arts Falmouth won the Interior Design category. His entry – The Gas House was designed to offer support for 16-20-year-olds who are, or have been, in the social care system and need guidance to become successfully independent. And Joshua Redican of Coventry University took top prize as winner of the Art & Design category with his illustrative, contemporary submission exploring the culture of social media addiction and how it affects society.