Ceramics designer Miranda Watkins has scooped the top two honours at this year’s Eureka Design Awards for her pewter table and giftware range.
Selected from a five-strong shortlist, she took the judges’ Best in Show award and the online Mydeco award, as voted for by the public.
Conran & Partners founder Sebastian Conran, who judged the awards alongside Telegraph Homes editor Annabell Freiberg and Argos product manager Mark Bond, says that this year’s nominees have produced relevant, imaginative and affordable pieces.
‘The companies involved with Eureka are working with young British designers because they’re the best at what they do, not – as in some cases – because they’re cheap,’ he says.
A Eureka spokeswoman sees the awards, organised by charity Design Nation, as a useful project for designers that results in commercial products, or a display of the end result.
‘It gives the more established a chance to work with manufacturers at its most formal level, matching designers with companies, one to one. At the other end, pairings can form just through networking,’ she points out.
Conran believes the ceramic mug designs for Royal Doulton by People Will Always Need Plates add significant value to the product with a graphic that is ‘spot on’.
Partnerships like this, between manufacturer and designer, are key to successful distribution, he says.
Conran also predicts that Michelle Mason’s textile bags will be successful, as she isn’t trying to be a ‘star designer’. ‘Retailers need merchandise that will sell, and this stuff will not end up in sales,’ he says.
Conran also notes the usefulness of pewter and the foresight of Wentworth, manufacturer of Watkins’ pieces. ‘It’s a fantastic material and she’s created modern forms from a very appropriate material,’ he says.
Although no formal theme underpins this year’s show, according to the Eureka spokeswoman, entrants have gravitated towards ‘retro’, albeit independently. This, she says, is likely to be a response to more general trends.
Freiberg singles out the Royal Doulton Mugs and the Margo Selby range, describing the latter’s linen and soft furnishings as ‘on-trend contemporary classics’.
All of the designs at this year’s exhibition are available for purchase – a move to encourage a customer base at the show, according to the Eureka spokeswoman.
Design Nation is pushing the agenda of commercially viable design to people right along the supply chain, she says.
Eureka is an annual exhibition and competition that acts as a forum to mediate between British designers and manufacturers. It is organised by Design Nation, a registered charity, which aims to help designers in business.
For further information on the shortlisted and winning designs, go to www. eurekacollection.co.uk.
• Bedroom furniture by James Ryan of the Barnsley Workshop for Ercol
• Printed bed linen and soft furnishings by Margo Selby for Habitat
• Ceramic mug designs by People Will Always Need Plates, for Royal Doulton
• Printed textile bags by Michelle Mason, for the Southbank Centre shop
• Dining furniture by Chris Eckersley, for Neville Johnson
• Pewter table and giftware by Miranda Watkins