The Designer of The Future Award was established in 2021 by the Conran Shop, supported by the Marandi Foundation, to honour the late Sir Terence Conran.
After the British designer and innovator passed away in 2020, a hole was left in the design world, and a prize created to ensure his legacy would live on.
He believed in the importance of supporting and nurturing young designers, and throughout his prestigious career he guided the next generation of creative talent into the design industry.
The Designer of The Future Award ensures design graduates will continue to be supported as they take the first steps on their career path. Indeed, its primary objective is to provide a platform for emerging designers.
The graduate with the winning design receives a prize worth £40,000, consisting of £3,000 cash to support their design career and a minimum three-month work placement at The Conran Shop.
While there, the winner can enjoy a first taste of the industry.
Cameron Rowley, the first winner of the award, impressed the judges with a simple yet innovative design that truly embodied Conran’s life’s work.
A recent graduate from Kingston School of Art, Rowley presented his ‘One Step Ladder’ for the judges’ consideration.
The design was original and intuitive, reminding them of the core principles Conran valued in his creative process; plain, simple and useful.
He viewed good design as taking something from everyday life and improving it, which is exactly what Rowley’s product achieves.
When asked about the inspiration behind his design, Rowley said: “When using step stools and ladders around the house, it is usually for a very brief moment and with only one step
“I wanted to create an object that facilitated this behaviour while maintaining a smaller footprint.”
His innovative one-step ladder is designed to be used around the home, whether for reaching up to tall cabinets or dusting in high places.
It is the perfect redesign of the step stool, which, while useful, can be bulky to store and is often an eyesore.
The one-step design is more ergonomic, functional and as Rowley states: “Its beauty is a consequence of its process and function.”
The 2021 judging panel was on the lookout for a functional design that looks good and is marketable to the general public.
After reviewing hundreds of submissions from recently graduated design students across the UK, its members shortlisted 11 finalists before deciding unanimously that the one-step ladder stood out.
They concluded that Rowley’s design met all the criteria they were looking for. The product was simple to understand and use and, most of all, made an everyday task easier.
Rowley was the first winner of this inaugural award, but will certainly not be the last.
The Designer of The Future Award will continue to inspire young creatives and provide an essential platform to present their ideas.
Sir Terence Conran believed in the next generation of design talent, and thanks to this unique award, we will continue to see what the UK’s graduates have to offer the world.