Design Council turns 70 and unveils the future of British design with its 70 Ones to Watch

The Design Council today announces its 70 Ones to Watch — 70 of the most exciting up-and-coming designers in the UK who together represent the future of British design.

Showcased as part of Design Council’s 70th anniversary celebrations, the designers — each chosen for an individual product or project of outstanding design ingenuity and vision — have been selected from hundreds of entrants. The huge range of submissions covered design disciplines from furniture design, architecture and jewellery design, to material experimentation and app development. Bound together by the common theme of designing for the future, and many of them designing to improve people’s lives, they reflect the values that Design Council has stood by throughout its 70-year history.

John Mathers, Design Council chief executive, said: We are proud to be marking 70 years of the Design Council in 2015 with the exemplary Ones to Watch line up of new designers. Ones to Watch offers an exciting vision of our future, with fresh ideas from emerging designers that address important contemporary living challenges from sustainability to health, education to city living and simple but effective ways to improve everyday life. The variety of the designs illustrates the diverse nature of ideas coming out of the UK, and we hope to see these designers producing more exciting work over the coming years.’

Chosen for their vision, ambition, innovation and potential to contribute to our reputation as a leading design nation, the 70 Ones to Watch have been selected by Design Council and an expert judging panel. The panel includes Harriet Vine of jewellery micro-manufacturer Tatty Divine; digital and lifestyle entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox; Chloe Macintosh, co-founder of online makers marketplace; and experts from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The selected line up can be broadly divided into six categories; Everyday living, Design for health and wellbeing, Materiality, Design for social impact, Future of city living and Rethinking reality.

Everyday living

Finn Chair by Oliver Hrubiak, NOOOK by Torsten Sherwood, A4 Scooter by George Mabey

Simple, smart and resourceful answers for the everyday, these projects address the challenges of fast-paced modern lifestyles. The designs are functional and beautiful with a focus on longevity and sustainability.

Making new technology fit into our lives, Marjan Van Aubel incorporates technology into the home with the creation of Current Table, a table top created from a type of low-cost thin-film solar cell which harvests energy from daylight to charge electronic appliances. Oliver Hrubiakhas designed the Finn Lounge Chair, a long lasting chair designed to be passed down from generation to generation, using classic Scandinavian design aesthetics. Noook, designed by Torsten Sherwood, is a simple cardboard modular system that produces an infinite array of faceted structures, designed for architectural play. Store and Pour Storage Jars by Rebecca Price, are functional storage jars with an in-built measuring device for accurately measuring healthy portions of ingredients.

The A4 Scooter by George Mabey is a kick scooter designed to fold up to the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Neethu Matthew’s beautifully designed Screwless Glasses tackles the problem of screw maintenance with the use of super-elastic temples made out of flexible material Nitinol.

Design for health and wellbeing

Hand Healthy by Simon Kinneir, Low cost prosthetic by Matthew Thompson, Future Activewear by Hyun Kyung Lee

The designers in the Ones to Watch line up have tackled a number of diverse issues providing inspirational solutions in areas not often associated with design. Health experts increasingly recognise the need to design for health and wellbeing- and the following clever and inspirational designs can help all members of society lead their lives with more ease and efficiency.

Hyn Kyung Lee has designed Future Active Wear Collection for Older Adults, a collection of fashion garments designed to encourage the wearer to lead a healthy and active lifestyle by improving muscle strength and flexibility by incorporating gentle exercise functions directly into these garments. Another design helping the elderly is Hand-Healthy by Simon Kinneir, a behavioral and product invention for people with osteoarthritis, designed to help the user engage better with their joint-health and exercise through cooking. My Med by Matthew Cardell-Williams is a system providing a solution to medication management straight from the pharmacy, aimed at elderly people with limited dexterity, sensory perception and suffering from degenerative mental illnesses.

Emily Tulloh’s Summerbug Trike provides back support for disabled children, allowing them the mobility and freedom of riding a bike that will adjust as they grow. Filling a clear gap in the market, Matthew Thompson has created prototypes for an amazing low-cost, low-noise, lightweight prosthetic hand with improved battery life. Also in the realm of technology, Claire Jeffries has designed an app called Fred, which helps young children learn the basics of first aid.


Extract by Effie Koukia, From Insects by Marlene Huissoid, PLAG by Wael Seaiby

Fueled by questions around manufacturing and environmental sustainability, young designers are introducing new processes into their work and exploiting nature to break new ground and create new forms of beauty.

Experimenting with materials, Lucie Libotte created Dust Matters, a case study that examines domestic dust from different locations in London; through collaborations with scientists, Libotte realized that when heated, dust reacts like a chemical glaze, unlocking the potential in this waste material. Extract, created by Effie Koukia replaces petroleum-based ingredients in art products with degradable products from sustainable sources; the outcome is a collection of inks and spray paints that are totally safe for the user and the environment. Another ingenious use of materials comes from Marlene Huissoid and her project, From Insects, which uses insects as co-partners in the design process. The project utilises a materials palette of two mediums from the honeybee and the silkworms: bio resin and the silk cocoons.

PLAG by Wael Seaiby is a study in self-sufficiency using recycled plastic bags to create beautiful objects. Sugar Glass by Fernando Laposse Madero domesticates the process of glass-blowing on a scale that can be reproduced at home with the use of sugar, an ideal material to mimic glass and much more accessible in an urban environment.
Sophie Boons has collaborated with scientist Jodie Melbourne to create NAuNO and NAgNO Jewellery, a collection made from a new material that consists of gold or silver nanoparticles resulting in fascinating optical properties.

Design for social impact

A Civic School by Neil Michels, ASAP Water Rescue by Ross Kemp, 4SANITATION by Oliver Brunt

This theme illustrates design with political and social goals for a society that challenges inequality, champions education and aims for a better life for all using clever and simple designs.

A project bringing communities together is A Civic School by Neil Michels, which combines government education and regeneration budgets to provide a school building, which can be used by both pupils and the general public. Creating an exploratory journey into design for autism,Emma Thomas has designed 24-hour care housing for young adults with autism, providing them with a healthcare facility, careers centre, café and shop in order to encourage social interaction in a non-threatening atmosphere.

Designing to save lives, Ross Kemp has created the ASAP Rescue Watercraft, a one person, electric powered watercraft for faster beach and inland water rescue, with zero emissions. Another project improving quality of life is Brick Bottle by Felix Bell, a system of interlocking recycled PET bottles filled with material from the surrounding area such as sand or soil, creating solid building blocks for permanent secure shelters. Aiming to improve conditions in refugee camps, Oliver Brunt has created 4Sanitation, a frugally designed hygiene pack with five ultra-condensed, longlife soap blocks. Chris Natt the designer of Blastproof has just won funding for his project, a prevention strategy that can reduce injuries to mine removal teams, a valuable tool in the construction industry.

The future of city living

Soapbox by Chris Moss, PEMY: the new Mars by Sonila Kadillari

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and cities are hugely complex systems; these designs help to tackle the threat of overcrowding, pollution and social discord.

Uplifting the daily commute, Chris Moss’ Soapbox is a system of old shipping containers re-conditioned into modular shower, garden and seating hubs to enable people to enjoy a more efficient commute to work.    Thinking more about condensed living in cities, Lee Clarke has designed The Community Rail, a space-saving device – bulky household gadgets can be stored on the rail and shared between tenants living in small-spaced accommodation, removing the need for ownership.

Looking into the future of how we live in our cities, Can a tram give Hong Kong its waterfront back? is a project by Laura Mazzeo,reconnecting Hong Kong residents with their historical tramway by introducing a new line linking the east to west along the northern edge of the Victoria Harbour, enabling a framework to be created connecting all its action areas. Also looking into the future is Sonila Kadillari withPEMY: the new Mars, an Earth-bound simulation of Mars, providing material to explore the evolution of architecture as a response to the conditions on Mars, and using these ideas to think about living in the future.

Rethinking reality

CONTACT by Felix Faire, Iungo Kettle by James Molkenthin

Here we see designers finding ways to play with the real and the virtual. In an era where people are immersed in digital worlds, yet still want to connect with a tangible one, pushing these boundaries couldn’t be more relevant.

Musical Memory Box by Chloe Meineck gives much needed familiarity and comfort to people with dementia, at an unsettline time in their lives. The design makes use of the profound effect music can have on people with this type of illness. The box contains objects chosen by the owner to represent friends, family and key memories. The Iungo Kettle by James Molkenthin gives blind and partially sighted people assurance, control and normality in their home. The Iungo Kettle communicates via Bluetooth with a smartphone app, which measures the temperature and volume of water in the kettle, and sends push-notifications to the user when it has boiled.

CONTACT by Felix Faire is an audio interface where any physical interaction with a table or hard surface generates vibrations that are then transformed into an acoustic and optical performance. In CONTACT, the technology remains hidden so that the user can focus purely on sensations.