The Design Guild Marks, introduced by The Furniture Makers Company in 2008, recognise and reward excellence in the British design of furniture in volume production. In this fifth year there were a very high number of applications and the design of most of them was exceptional. The judging panel (listed below) had the difficult task of assessing which entries had achieved the now established standard of excellence required from the diverse range of items set out for their inspection.
As explained by Jonathan Hindle, the Founding Chairman of the Design Guild Mark:
“The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers introduced the Design Guild Mark to reward the finest furniture designers working in volume production in Britain and the best of British furniture designers working abroad. The criteria are excellence in four fields – design, the use of materials, manufacture and function. Interestingly it is becoming apparent that by raising awareness of design and British design talent, the industry as a whole seems to be becoming more design led with its customers now able to ‘buy more design for their money’.
Graham Jones, the present chairman, added:
“In the last two years we have seen an increasingly diverse range of entries including furniture for outdoor use as well as inside, for both the retail and the contract markets, for healthcare and education as well as for the office sector. And importantly in this context, an increasing proportion of the entries is reaching the standard of excellence the judges are looking for.”
The judges were:
Sally Bendelow – Marks & Spencer, Jonathan Hindle – KI, Tony Chambers – Wallpaper, Simon Jackson – Gensler, Barbara Chandler – The Evening Standard, Stephan Oberwegner – Max Bentheim, Lee Cheong – University of Portsmouth, Sarah Simmonds – Scott Brownrigg, Sheridan Coakley – SCP, Pernille Stafford – TP Bennett, Sebastian Conran – Sebastian Conran Associates and Jason Wilary-Attew – John Lewis.
All judges with an interest in an entry stood aside when that entry was being discussed
Designers whose entries were awarded Design Guild Marks this year were:
• Simon Burvill – ‘Lizard Lounger’ for Gaze Burvill DGM 48
• David Chipperfield – ‘Piana Chair’ for Alessi, distributed by KI DGM 49
• Nigel Coates – ‘Domo Chair’ for Poltronova SRL DGM 50
• Tony Cole – ‘Staverton CL’ for Logic Office Group DGM 51
• Sebastian Conran – ‘Aerofoil’ Desk and Bureau for John Lewis DGM 52
• Sebastian Conran – ‘Boxer’ Shelves for John Lewis DGM 53
• Sebastian Conran – ‘Radius’ Personal Table for John Lewis DGM 54
• Sean Dare – ‘Spline Chair’ for Dare Studio DGM 55
• Chris Eckersley – ‘Devon Chair’ for Sitting Firm Chairmakers DGM 56
• Ben Fowler – ‘Sonoma Folding Wardrobe’ for Marks & Spencer DGM 57
• David Fox – ‘The Magic Stool’ for Boss Design DGM 58
• Mark Gabbertas – ‘Nomad’ for Gloster Furniture DGM 59
• Bethan Gray – ‘Noah Dining Table and Bench’ for John Lewis DGM 60
• Bethan Gray – ‘Noah Dining Chair’ for John Lewis DGM 61
• Bethan Gray – ‘Noah Storage Range’ for John Lewis DGM 62
• Broome Jenkins – ‘Meet-U Table System’ for Burgess Furniture DGM 63
• Kay+Stemmer – ‘Cricket Bench’ for SCP Ltd DGM 64
• Marc Krusin – ‘Krusin Table Collection’ for Knoll International DGM 65
• Marc Krusin – ‘Krusin Chair Collection’ for Knoll International DGM 66
• Katerina Zachariades – ‘Manhattan Collection’ for Morgan DGM 67
• Corin Mellor – ‘Beech Plywood Furniture’ range for David Mellor DGM 68
• PearsonLloyd – ‘PLC Chair Line’ for Modus DGM 69
• Simon Pengelly – ‘Theo Chair and Range’ for Chorus Furniture DGM 70
• Simon Pengelly – ‘Confer Chair’ for Allermuir Ltd DGM 71
• Leonhard Pfeifer – ‘Eigen Coat Stand’ for John Lewis. (Mfd by Woodman) DGM72
• David Young – ‘Animate Writing Desk’ for Young & Norgate DGM 73
• Zoeftig Design Studio – ‘inFINITE Seating System’ for Zoeftig & Co DGM 74
Barbara Chandler, Photographer, design writer for the London Evening Standard, Design Columnist for Homes & Gardens and a judge for every year of the scheme, said afterwards:
“In this age of cut-backs it is so good to see the Furniture Makers supporting good design in such a positive way. This year, as judges, we interrogated the designers themselves, who had to present their work. This made us all so very proud of British standards of design which, underpinned by our excellent art and design colleges, are acknowledged to be the highest in the world.
It was fascinating to see that the twenty seven recipients of the 2012 Design Guild Marks ranged from the inFINITE airport seating from Zoeftig – technically state-of-the-art, and exported to China! – to more traditional pieces lovingly made, yet in volume production, like the handcrafted Animate Writing Desk designed by David Young.”
Jason Wilary-Attew, Head of Furniture buying for John Lewis, and another of the judges, commented:
“I thoroughly enjoyed the judging, and thought we had some really healthy discussion and debate. It was great to have so many people with truly varied experience, which led to a very rounded judging panel. The quality of entries was very high, and we really benefitted from hearing the designers and the manufacturers of their designs explaining their products.”
Coincidentally a news item from The Furniture Makers not previously announced is that the John Lewis Partnership has undertaken to sponsor the Design Guild Mark for next year and beyond. This support will greatly help the development of the Design Guild Mark as the accolade, the recognition, which all aspiring British furniture designers, whether working in the UK or abroad, would like to achieve.
The Furniture Makers Company is very grateful to John Lewis for its future help and, as every year, to Marks & Spencer for its support of the Design Guild Mark by making both its facilities and its staff available for the judging process.