With 27 submissions across three categories awarded the Design Guild Mark in 2021, it is clear that material innovation and creativity remain at the forefront of British design … 

The Design Guild Mark is awarded by The Furniture Makers’ Company, with the aim of driving excellence and raising the profile of British design and innovation, recognising the highest standards in the design of furnishings in volume production across three categories – Furniture, 2D Design and, new for the 2020/21 intake, Lighting Design. 

Each categories’ jury of design experts assesses the submissions against a series of criteria, including material suitability, sustainability, innovation and problem-solving.

Due to pandemic disruption, the applicants for the last two years were judged virtually via video conferencing, while the winning designers were celebrated at an online awards ceremony last month.

Rodney McMahon, chairman of the Design Guild Mark, comments: “This year we welcomed the Lighting Design category, with its new panel of judges, and we are delighted to have expanded the scope and reach of the guild marks by doing so.  

“The three days of virtual judging were absolutely riveting, and, despite the obvious challenges, we embraced the process and achieved a very balanced and effective result.”

The Furniture category winners were: The Kenilworth Collection by Pierre Greenway; Fold, by Samuel Wilkinson for The Conran Shop; Cruz Del Sur x Disegno, by Matteo Fogale; Rakino Collection, by Tim Rundle for Morgan Contract Furniture; Jethro, by Sarah Kay for SCP; Smalto Table Collection, by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby for Knoll International; Ore Tables, by Daniel Schofield for Ercol Furniture; Corso Table + Bench, by Dylan Freeth for Ercol Furniture; Verso Cabinets, by Dylan Freeth for Ercol Furniture; Backer, by Daniel Schofield for Hayche; Assembled Collection/Stack and Chamfer, by Paul Crofts for Isomi; Lino Chair, by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin for Herman Miller; Civic Tables, by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin for Herman Miller; Folk, by Luke Pearson and Tom Lloyd for Allermuir; Kin, by Luke Pearson and Tom Lloyd for Allermuir; TO1 Cross Chair, by Luke Pearson and Tom Lloyd for TAKT (pictured); Chamfer “springleaf” Table, by Ben Fowler for Yonga Mobilya/Marque Furniture; Deco Screens, by Mark Gabbertas for Gloster Furniture; Maya, by Mark Gabbertas for Gloster Furniture; Pi Stool, by Simon Cass for par-avion co./Skandium; and the Aspect Table, by Tom Rawlings for William Hands.   

The 2D Design category winners were: Identity and Strata Collection, by David Irwin and Rachel Evison for Bute Fabrics; Kit Miles Fabric Wallpaper Collection, by Kit Miles; Hit the North, by Drew Millward and Charlotte Raffo for The Monkey Puzzle Tree; and Oceanic, by Jodie Padgett for Camira. The Lighting Design winners were: Introvert Extrovert, by Nathanael Hunt for Haberdashery; and Simple Shade 05, by Naomi Rochowski for Naomi Paul.

The winners of the Jonathan Hindle Prize, which is awarded to the most outstanding of the year’s Design Guild Mark-awarded pieces, were the TO1 Cross Chair, designed by Luke Pearson and Tom Lloyd for TAKT, and the Identity and Strata Collection, designed by David Irwin and Rachel Evison for Bute Fabrics.

Judge Elliott Koehler, creative director at JPA Design, comments: “The judging day was a huge success. So many engaging pieces displaying both innovation and design excellence shows that the past year has not dampened the creative world’s ambition to solve problems and make our homes enjoyable places we love to curate. 

“The increase in durable exterior materials and pieces really aligned with the current trend of enjoying our domestic and commercial outdoor spaces to a greater degree. The virtual judging day was an event perhaps more linked to the purchasing experience for consumers – this placed a greater emphasis on a product’s problem-solving and distinction being communicated in a digital format. 

“Applicants should be encouraged to seek out and apply at every opportunity for the mark, as innovation, sustainability and intelligent solutions are always recognised by the judges. The more recognition and awareness these winning products have, the better our world and lives will be with these showcases of design excellence.”