How a ladder with one step has given a graduate designer a leg up

Kingston School of Art graduate Cameron Rowley has been named the winner of this year’s Designer of the Future Award.

The 23-year-old product and furniture designer impressed this year’s panel with a simple but effective design that could revolutionise the modern home.

His creation, named the One Step Ladder, was chosen from close to 100 submissions – whittled down to 11 finalists – as the product that will go on to be developed with The Conran Shop.

When the newly-graduated winner was asked how he felt about winning the award, he said: “I feel incredibly honoured and grateful to have won. I love the ethos and design philosophy of Sir Terence Conran and The Conran Shop, so to have my work recognised in this way is massively gratifying.”

After the passing of revolutionary designer Sir Terence Conran last year, The Conran Shop, in collaboration with The Marandi Foundation, decided to uphold Conran’s legacy with the Designer of The Future Award.

Conran vehemently believed in uplifting the next generation of creative talent by supporting their careers and design ideas.

Indeed, Conran himself, many feel, used design to modernise London and “moved Britain forward to make it an influence around the world.”

Part of this process was always to look to the future and the role design could play alongside the younger generation of creatives.

The Designer of The Future award is open to all recently-graduated design students across the UK  who are encouraged to submit relevant work from their degree.

It is designed to not only assist them financially at the beginning of their careers, but also to present them with a unique opportunity to experience the industry.

This year’s winner has received a prize worth £40,000, consisting of a £3,000 cash award and an exclusive internship lasting up to six months at The Conran Shop in London.

It is there that Rowley will have the opportunity to gain invaluable industry experience and insight as well as watching his one-step ladder be developed and brought to market.

The One Step Ladder was chosen by a panel of judges for both its simplicity and marketability. It is easy to see, understand and, as with all great design, is an improvement from its predecessor.

The product looks great and embodies Terence Conran’s philosophy on what makes good design- plain, simple and useful.

Rowley observed how ladders and stepping stools are regularly utilised throughout modern homes, but for something that held such a large footprint, it was so briefly used and often for one step.

As such, the design submitted focused on creating a smaller footprint whilst maintaining its intended use.

The student stated that his idea was inspired by understated everyday objects and tools such as gardening implements, canoe paddles, and window cleaners ladders which each has an ‘unintentional beauty’.

As with all good design, Rowley was keen to consider both functionality and aesthetic appeal during its downtime.

The designer stated that while emphasis was heavily focused on function, the aim was for it to also ‘function as a display piece.’

It has never been more important for young creatives to feel supported and guided into such a fast-growing industry in such turbulent times.

The Designer of the Future award not only seeks to uplift new talent, but also replicate the long-standing work of Terence Conran.

The late designer was noted for his commitment to discovering, developing, and most importantly, nurturing talented designers throughout his career.

This award ensures that young designers have an opportunity to be rightfully seen and heard in the industry.

As one of the key investors from the Marandi Foundation states: “The award will help enable future generations of new designers to prosper and uphold the traditions he set.”

    Leave a Reply