Inaugural 'Up In The Clouds' wows the judges

In its first year, Collaborate's furniture design competition produces a stunning set of proposals.

Inaugural 'Up In The Clouds' wows the judges

*Pictured in the front row left to right: Collaborate Director Helen Bryant; Perkins+Will Head of Sustainability Kevin Goldsmith; London Met Univ.’s Furniture and Product Design Teacher Peter Marigold; London Met Univ.’s Furniture Design Senior Lecturer Cathy Stack.  

‘Up In The Clouds’ is a new commercial furniture design competition sponsored by London’s leading contract furniture consultancy Collaborate, architects Perkins+Will, and furniture designers and manufacturers Verco. In the competition’s inaugural year, students from the furniture design course of London Metropolitan University’s Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture, and Design in Whitechapel have been proposing, building, and honing commercial furniture designs all aimed at providing solutions for the increasingly digitally-dependent, mobile workforce. 


Cathy Stack, senior lecturer at The Cass commented:

“Collaborate’s brief for ‘Up In The Clouds’ allowed students to be as creative as possible whilst tasking them to address current social and environmental issues. Showing the students how important it is to project-plan – and manage time to meet deadlines effectively – is a tremendous link between academia and the real world. Indeed, receiving first-hand feedback from industry professionals with cutting-edge knowledge of, and success in, today’s furniture world, inspired the students to really pull out the stops.” 

Following a launch event on 23rd January – where students pitched their initial ideas and received ‘on the spot’ feedback from judges – entrants had a month to realise their prototypes and create a video promoting the benefits of their ideas. Halfway through the month, Verco treated the 2018 ‘Up In The Clouds’ participants to a visit to their impressive factory in High Wycombe (see photograph below). The tour provided inspiration and ‘real-life examples’ of the kind of products that are winning people over and going into production in today’s market.

London Met University’s design school in Whitechapel hosted the final round of presentations on Tuesday 20th February. Judges from Collaborate and Perkins+Will were blown away by the quality of the proposals, designs, and prototypes. From beautiful shelving and hanging space in public lavatories; to office chairs for people who need to move more throughout the day; to completely sustainable, cradle-to-grave stools made from mushroom fungus – the diversity of the proposals was something that surprised and impressed the judges.Collaborate Director on the judging panel Helen Bryant said:

“The final presentations for the first ‘Up In The Clouds’ competition were absolutely fantastic. Not only were the ideas so good – and evident in the proposals – the execution of the designs into real prototypes was of a very high quality. Congratulations to all the students for collectively putting on such a good show.”

Kevin Goldsmith – Head of Sustainability at Perkins+Will – remarked:

“At Perkins+Will we have been very impressed by all the students’ designs for ‘Up In The Clouds’ 2018. There has been such a variety in the response to the brief that the selection of a shortlist has been very difficult. We were excited as a local design practice to LMU to be asked to be part of the judging panel along with Collaborate and Verco. To provide industry insight and support and share our knowledge to the students, hopefully they have learnt something about the way we approach furniture and the importance of providing sustainable design solutions. There are some very talented emerging designers out there and we are looking forward to the shortlist and winners being announced later in the year.”

Chris Riley - Verco's Sales and Marketing Director - enthused:

"To be involved with new designers is both exciting and invigorating. We loved what they have been able to produce in a relatively short time. I was really impressed by not just the aesthetics of each piece, but the considered use of materials combined with great craftmanship to achieve some fantastic, potentially commercial solutions."

Richard Martin – Collaborate MD – summarised:

“It is an honour to be the lead sponsor on this project – we really weren’t prepared for designs of this quality. The level of thought and work that had gone into the proposals was stunning. Producing a short-list was a difficult task! We are now so excited about announcing the winner of the inaugural ‘Up In The Clouds’ during Clerkenwell Design Week in May."  The winning design will be kept under wraps until May this year when an announcement will be made during Clerkenwell Design Week. In the meantime, check out the shortlisted entries below.  

Shortlisted Entries

Office Playground - Barnaby Lewis
Range of seating providing scope for movement.

Jacobs Space - Martha Haines
Flexible Screen created by large planting boxes

Perch - Adam Watts
Gymnastics-inspired bench seat

Dog-eared shelf - Ella Merriman
Shelf with hook solution for public bathrooms.

Creation Space - Abbie Tipler
Interactive collaborative meeting table

Posted on

March 12, 2018

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