Now in its 11th year, the Design Guild Mark Awards celebrate and drive excellence in the furnishing industry. FX picks a few highlights
Now in its 11th year, the Design Guild Mark, awarded annually by The Furniture Makers’ Company, the City of London livery company and charity, aims to celebrate and help drive innovation and excellence in the furnishing industry. Any British designer or designer working in the UK in volume production for either contract and consumer products is eligible for consideration. Across furniture and 2D categories, 22 designs were deemed worthy of the prestigious award this year, and the designers were awarded their trophies during Clerkenwell Design Week.
Each product has a different story behind its development, but as examples of ‘good design’ today, they are all concerned with prescient issues such as resilience, sustainability, and wellbeing. During the judging process, the 22 recipients also demonstrated the passion and hard work that lies behind their innovative designs.
The winning designs cover a range of products for both contract design and consumer markets. FX picked several for a closer look…
Designed by Yorgo Lykouria for Allsteel
Rock, by Yorgo Lykouria of Rainlight Studio, was part of a collection designed for Allsteel called Townhall. Rock is so called not just for the inspiration Lykouria took in natural forms, which he describes as ‘communicating a sense of freedom’, but more simply because the rounded base of the seat means the chair rocks gently. However, it is not the repetitive motion of a rocking chair, but a responsive movement that occurs as the sitter adjusts their position. Though relaxing, the chairs are made for a work environment, responding to the more informal and idiosyncratic ways we work today. They have a handle at the top and are lightweight enough to be moved around for informal meeting arrangements. This is achieved by making them hollow, ‘the way a kayak is made’, as Lykouria explains in a video introducing the product.
Newson Aluminum Chair
Designed by Marc Newson for Knoll International
Although the awards recognise new innovations to the industry, the products designed are often for an established and reputable brand, and so follow a legacy of design and mark a trajectory for the company’s future. Commenting on his Newson Aluminum Chair designed for Knoll International, Marc Newson makes the point: ‘The design has got to make sense within the context of the brand. Knoll has quite a rich history in terms of the designs, which still exist. All these historical works are still in production so one can only hope that in 50 years I can say the same thing. Very simply, for a designer, it’s wonderful to be in the company of such renowned designers and architects, and I wanted to celebrate that.’
Designed by Lucy Kurrein for Capdell
Lucy Kurrein’s Panel chair aims to reimagine lounge seating without upholstery to offer a simpler and more resilient product. The seat and back are made of leather or industrial felt, folded and moulded into comfortable curved shapes, without the need for any additional padding. This part rests on a powder-coated flat-section steel frame. Kurrein was also given a special mention in the Jonathan Hindle Prize, awarded to the most outstanding of the Design Guild Mark recipients for the year.
By Jonathan Prestwich for OPM Furniture
The Object Collection for OPM Furniture continues the firm’s focus on integrating technology and cable management into its furniture. Jonathan Prestwich’s table design conceals this in a central tray area, the choice of materials providing a sleek and contemporary aesthetic. Simple and tactile, the materials include natural woods, metals and stones, rose gold and gunmetal finishes, or alternatively Fenix laminates – a high-performance surface produced with nanotechnology that is soft-touch, highly opaque, anti-fingerprint and, unique to the material, any small scratches it receives can be thermally healed. While ‘Object Collection’ doesn’t sound particularly people-focused, people are at the heart of it. As Prestwich explains, the idea is ‘to be nice to people … trying to make people feel good’. The focal point is a ‘stage area’, inset into the table and featuring a sliding tray and ‘lid’ to conceal cables. Using different materials the table is split into ‘zones’, creating a central space for glasses and bottles: with the Object table, people must come together to get a drink.
Designed by Claire Kimble & Helen Lloyd for Milliken
Artistic Liberties by Claire Kimble and Helen Lloyd for Milliken mixes old and new: the carpet tiles have a ‘post-punk’ aesthetic that mixes historical motifs, damask and brocade with more abstract or minimal designs, often irregularly placed and using clashing colours. Kimble says she and Lloyd are proud of what they have achieved: ‘To see the collection’s individuality and creative story, together with Milliken’s Millitron digital printing technology, being recognised and awarded for its design merit and product innovation is really something special.’ The designs are made with Milliken’s exceptional printing technique, but also have the sustainability credentials to back up its concept: high performance and also highly sustainable, the tiles use 100% regenerated nylon Econyl yarn, and 90% recycled-content cushion backing.
The judging panel was chaired by Design Guild Mark chairman Rodney McMahon and is made up of leading industry professionals from furniture, hospitality, commercial, retail and media.
Royal College of Art
Farrah & Pearce
The Conran Shop
Forme UK Design and Architecture
Daniel Hopwood: London Interior Design & Architecture
Royal College of Art
Natasha Marshall Limited
Rapture and Wright