From office to home, the Design Guild Mark announces awards for British design excellence

Day Bed Four
The Furniture Makers Company announces the winners of this year’s Design Guild Mark – an award that celebrates excellence in British design. Pictured: ‘Day Bed Four’, from Series Four, by Another Country
(Image credit: press)

One word cropped up repeatedly during the judging of the ninth Design Guild Mark last month: interactive. Spearheaded by the the charitable Furniture Makers’ Company and celebrating British design excellence, the coveted prize allowed the judges panel to thoroughly examine each of the entries within the confines of the medieval Carpenters’ Hall, with the shortlisted designers presenting the materials, inspiration, and manufacturing behind their products.

The vast selection was whittled down to 34 Guild Marks, including Forpeople’s ‘Keyn Family’ task chairs for Herman Miller; and young designer Charles Dedman’s ‘Turner Carver’ chair, originally launched as a prototype, before being put into production by SittingFirm. Elsewhere Bisley’s classic filing drawers were honoured, alongside Robin Day’s colourful armchairs for Hille.

Judge Jeremy Myerson – the Helen Hamlyn professor of design at the RCA – noted the diversity among the applicants this year: ‘There was a marked accent in terms of design quality on furniture for the workplace, signalling a blurring of the lines between office and hospitality.’ This shift was reflected in a number of designs: Sebastian Conran was awarded for his workstation that utilises craft from the Japanese region of Gifu, while Another Country’s farmhouse-style dining room collection charmed judges for bringing a little English countryside into the modern home.

There was a strong array of wooden design that flourished including two Benchmark pieces, both by Nathalie de Leval in addition to Matthew Hilton’s adaptable desk and shelving for Ercol, as well as David Irwin’s nifty foldaway wooden chairs for Case Furniture.

‘The calibre of 2017 applicants was extremely high and a diverse range of typographies, materials and processes were judged over an engrossing day,’ commented Twentytwentyone co-founder Simon Alderson (a judge for DGM many times over). ‘The vitality and quality of British design remains in excellent health, and the Design Guild Mark acknowledges this. The interactive judging process allows a level of communication between designer and the panel that is both instructive and stimulating, for all parties.’

Turner carver and orbit

Left, ‘Turner carver’ (in black ash), for Sitting Firm. Right, ‘Orbit’ wall mount for OMK 1965

(Image credit: Charles Dedman, Rodney Kinsman)

Keyn Family

Keyn Family’, for Herman Miller won the Most Outstanding Britsh design award in the DGM, The Jonathan Hindle Prize

(Image credit: Forpeople)

Krusin Chair

Left, ‘Robin Day’ armchair, for Hille. Right, ‘Krusin Chair’ for Knoll

(Image credit: Robin Day, Marc Krusin)

Dining Table

Another Country’s Series Four mastered the art of bringing farmhouse style dining into a contemporary environment. Pictured, ‘Dining Table Four’ and ‘Bench Four’, from Series Four

(Image credit: Another Country)

The concept of the folding chair

David Irwin refined the concept of the folding chair with his ‘Narin’ chairs, for Case Furniture

(Image credit: press)


Many classic designs featured in this year, including ‘Multidrawer’ by Frederick Brown for Bisley

(Image credit: Frederick Brown)

Floating Bench

Floating Bench’, for Sitting Spiritually Ltd

(Image credit: Simon Pirie)

Wooden bookshelf

Samuel Chan showcased expert woodwork in his contemporary bookshelf for Channels, titled ‘Mr Knock 1

(Image credit: press)


Tailor’ chest of drawers and tallboy, for Benchmark

(Image credit: Nathalie de Leval)


For more information, visit the Design Guild Mark website

Sujata Burman is a writer and editor based in London, specialising in design and culture. She was Digital Design Editor at Wallpaper* before moving to her current role of Head of Content at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale where she is expanding the content offering of the showcases. Over the past decade, Sujata has written for global design and culture publications, and has been a speaker, moderator and judge for institutions and brands including RIBA, D&AD, Design Museum and Design Miami/. In 2019, she co-authored her first book, An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture, published by Hoxton Mini Press, which was driven by her aim to make the fields of design and architecture accessible to wider audiences.