Eye-catching creations which combine elegance with an air of luxury have helped Bethan Gray, a graduate of De Montfort University, win the prestigious title of Best British Designer at the 2013 Elle Decoration Awards. Bethan has enjoyed an impressive year launching several acclaimed collections of furniture.
“I’m really honoured to have been awarded Best British Designer 2013,” said Bethan. “Thanks to the team, it’s been a great year full of exciting collaborations and events, including the project with Lapicida and my own solo exhibition at Great Western Studios.
“We are already working on new and intriguing collections for 2014 with opportunities to work with stone, metallics and leather, and also launching several new overseas collaborations.”
This year’s collections have included a range of tables in wood, leather and marble under her brand G&T, in collaboration with furniture developer Thomas Turner, striking monochrome marble tables and accessories for stone specialist Lapicida and oak lights for John Lewis.
Bethan studied three-dimensional design, specialising in furniture, graduating from De Montfort University in Leicester in 1998. DMU is renowned for its creative heritage and was recently again named one of the country’s top creative universities by Which? University.
She was talent-spotted by Habitat’s Head of Design, Tom Dixon, while still a DMU student and won the New Designers Innovation Award for her final year piece of work. “It was winning that award which really saw the start of my professional career,” she said.
After a few years of freelancing, Bethan joined Habitat, where she worked for eight years, becoming its design director, producing many best-selling collections including the Parker and Hana furniture ranges. Her Pimlico kitchen range won an Elle Decoration award and she was instrumental in Habitat winning the Elle Decoration Best High Street Retailer title in 2007 and 2008.
In 2008, she left to set up her own design studio and has seen her work continue to sell in the Conran Shop, Case Furniture, John Lewis and Habitat.
The Welsh-born designer attributes much of her flair and inspiration to her roots, in particular to her grandfather, who was a forester who loved carving wooden objects for her, and her father who was also a keen carpenter.
She has a passion for luxurious natural materials such as leather, marble and solid wood, from which she creates warm, contemporary designs, often inspired by everyday objects and buildings seen while travelling to trade fairs around the globe.
The other 2013 Elle Decoration Award winners were Tracy Kendall (Best British Pattern), the Semplice Light by Industrial Facility for Oluce (Best British Product), Pinch (Best British Brand), Burberry Regent Street (Best British Interior) and The Original BTC Group (Made In The UK).