A celebration of innovative students and recent graduates from British design schools, the 12th annual New Design Britain Awards (NDBA) revealed its roll call of winners on Monday during a buzzing ceremony at the May Design Series event in London’s ExCeL Centre.

The Furniture category was won by Nottingham trent University's Daniel Lau for his Kai chair. The Fabrics category winner was The Glasgow School of Art's Catherine MacGruer, for her Tiles Collection, and the Accessories category, sponsored by Achica, was won by Nottingham Trent University's Samuel Bellamy, for his Moroccan Lamps, which also scooped the People's Choice award.

Central Saint Martins/UAL's Sophie Rowley was awarded the top accolade in the Surfaces category for Material Illusions, while The Royal College of Art's Amelia Hunter won the Architecture category, with Nuntius de Navibus. The Interior Design category was won by Inchbald School of Design's Catherine Dai, with Bathyal. Alumni's Choice went to Leeds College of Art's Amy Bartlett, for Form and Structure.

After seeing the 30 shortlisted entries on display at the show, an esteemed jury of design professionals debated the merits of each to arrive at the six winners, with the other two awards chosen by popular vote and the Alumni Collective composed of past NDBA finalists. In order to bridge the gap between design and industry, the entrants were judged on the commercial viability of their concepts, as well as aesthetics, functionality, and product development. Liam Butler, brand director of Achica which sponsored the Accessories category, explains: “New Design Britain is a fantastic showcase for new talent. This year saw a really interesting use of material and more awareness of commerciality.”

Other judges were also highly supportive of the awards a channel for launching the careers of new designers. Rob Scarlett, founder and designer at Scarlett Design UK as well as a past winner himself, put everything into perspective, saying: “New Design Britain makes being a designer real. It puts you into the real marketplace and gives you a platform to fulfil your dreams as a designer.” And Emma Mawston, head of design at Liberty Art Fabrics Interiors, believes: “New Design Britain should be the next RSA bursary.”

The winners expressed their appreciation that the awards programme can open doors to professional careers. Samuel Bellamy, who won both the Accessories and People’s Choice categories, declared “It’s helpful to have a bridge between university and the industry,” and Amy Bartlett, winner of the Alumni’s Choice award, felt that “New Design Britain provides an opportunity for fresh exposure the year after graduating.”

For the first time in the history of the New Design Britain Awards, the trophies have been 3D printed. Hobs Studio produced them following a concept developed by renowned design company and competition judge, DeadGood. Based on an organic structure that cannot be constructed by any means other than 3D printing, the shape of each award grows in size from the bottom upwards - a form inspired by the premise of the programme as an acknowledgment of graduates at the start of their careers who will develop and mature following this recognition.

Each winner in the Architecture, Interior Design, Fabrics, Accessories, Furniture and Surfaces categories will receive an industry placement, as well as career coaching and a complimentary stand at May Design Series 2016. Commenting on this year’s awards, Allie Little, New Design Britain programme curator, says: “Fresh design talent is the lifeblood of our industry, and it was fantastic to see so much support from manufacturers, designers and press for the winners’ announcement. New Design Britain is bringing the best in graduate talent to the forefront of the industry, and the work produced by this year's finalists is truly outstanding.” 

All companies interested in sponsoring a placement or internship for one of these winners are invited to contact Allie at allie.little@UBM.com.