How Terence Conran’s legacy will live on thanks to new award

The loss of Sir Terence Conran in the latter half of 2020 left a hole in the design world that will be felt for years to come.

He was a designer, businessman, philanthropist and, above all, a visionary who changed Britain as we know it today, single-handedly championing human-led design and revolutionising the role it plays in everyday life.

Conran leaves behind more than just his accomplishments throughout his career, from the re-designing of post-war Britain to the infamous Design Museum; he also leaves behind an incredible legacy.

Conran championed and nurtured young designers throughout his life, believing that the next generation of talent was vital to moulding our future.

As such, The Designer of The Future award was borne out of a desire by The Conran Shop – with the support of The Marandi Foundation – to uphold this legacy and provide an all-important stepping stone for design graduates as they begin their creative careers.

The award not only honours the life and work of Terence Conran, but ensures that the world of design will continue to thrive, innovate and change the world around us.

The competition is open to all recent design graduates across the UK who are encouraged to submit work from their degrees that they believe is not only commercially viable but embodies Conran’s design ethos; plain, simple, useful.

With the support of The Marandi Foundation, the winner of the award in 2021 received an incredible prize worth £40,000, consisting of £3000 in cash to support their design career and a 6-month work placement at The Conran Shop. The work placement will provide the lucky young graduate with a unique insight into the industry and the opportunity to gain invaluable experience whilst working alongside the best in the business to bring their product to market.

A select panel of judges is tasked with choosing a submission that they believe aligns with the late Terence Conran’s design ethos and can be a successful commercial product. The 2021 panel consists of notable creatives Fashion Designer Anya Hindmarch and Architect Lord Norman Foster alongside British Fashion Council Foundation co-chair and investor Narmina Marandi and senior executives from The Conran Shop.

Out of almost 100 submissions, the design that instantly caught the judges’ eye was recent Kingston School of Art graduate Cameron Rowleys ‘One Step Ladder’. The simple, aesthetically pleasing design was inspired by household stepping stools that often hold a large footprint but are used so briefly. Rowley’s design sought to simplify this object, stripping it back to basics whilst facilitating its primary use.

The judges stated that the purpose of the object was clear, easy to understand and offered a simple solution to an everyday challenge in a sleek and beautiful design. Rowley’s winning creation has since gone on to be featured amongst the projects selected by the organisers of this year’s New Designers exhibition, a graduate design show that enables young designers to showcase their work.

To quote Deyan Sudjic, Director Emeritus of The Design Museum, “No one has done more to create modern Britain than Terence Conran. He spent his whole career looking for ways to make life better for everyone.” Conran was an inspiration to generations of designers across the globe, and his work inevitably changed how we live, from where we shop to what we eat.

The Designer of The Future award seeks to uphold the incredible legacy of a man who always championed and supported young creatives. It is the hope of the founders of this award that the spirit of Conran will live on through new and innovative young designers committed to creating a better future with products that are “plain, simple and useful”.

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