Celebrating Future Promise: Winners Announced for the First Commercial Interiors UK Next Generation Awards

In a vibrant celebration that marked a new milestone in UK commercial interiors, the first-ever Commercial Interiors UK (CIUK) Next Generation Awards concluded at the highly anticipated Annual Dinner held at the prestigious Halle St Peters in Manchester and sponsored by Hypnos and Agua.

Commercial Interior UK Annual Dinner & Next Generation Awards

Designed to discover and foster the outstanding talents of the UK’s second-year Interior Design Degree students, this initiative saw participation from 7 universities across the UK. Excitingly, the awards will expand next year to include four new categories that will continue to recognize the next generation of talent within commercial interiors.

The commercial interiors community come together before the dinner & awards begin

Alys Bryan, Managing Editor of Design Insider said:

‘It has been a joy to celebrate the next generation of interior designers and welcome then into our commercial community. Next year, when the categories expand to showcase the expertise and next generation within commercial suppliers, our awards will be able to support growth across our whole sector; what a privilege it will be to be a part of that celebration!’

A Night of Festivity and Future Promises

The Annual Dinner, a key event in the commercial interiors community calendar, not only hosted the awards ceremony but also offered a night of dining, socializing, and dancing, underscoring the industry’s communal spirit and camaraderie. It was during this enjoyable occasion that the deserving winners were honoured in front of their peers, mentors, and industry leaders.

Commercial interior designs and suppliers socialise at this popular annual event

Rigorous Judging and High Standards

The submissions were rigorously judged by a panel of experts, including John Williams, Director at SpaceInvader; Arun Rana, Design Director ENA at Accor Hotels; Rita Bancroft, Marketing Director at NEWH UK; Diana Celella, Interior Designer & Director at The Drawing Room Interiors; and Alys Bryan, Managing Editor at Design Insider.

Rita Bancroft presents Aleenah Ahmed with her certificate

When asked to share her thoughts on the standard of the entries submitted Diana Celella said:

‘I must commend all participants for their outstanding efforts in this competition. The quality of work and innovative solutions showcased by each entry was truly impressive. Furthermore, the confidence and professionalism displayed during the verbal presentations were exceptional. Congratulations to all participants for their excellent contributions.’

Each design was evaluated based on the designer’s approach to the wellness-focused brief—particularly how they promoted the wellbeing of hospitality guests, integrated sustainability, and utilised commercial interior furnishings from Supplier Finder.

John Williams presents Maddie Benn-Banham with her award & certificate

John Williams praised the overall submission quality, stating:

‘A superb day of judging and the morning revealed an abundance of creativity that was as inspiring as it was diverse. Each presentation testified to the participants’ dedication to design and creativity. Meticulous attention to detail, a thorough understanding of the brief from all the designers and some stunning presentations made it a joy to see our up and coming British designers thriving.’

Recognising Excellence  – Award Winner!

The top prize was a valuable two-week work placement at SpaceInvader, awarded to Maddie Benn-Banham from Sheffield Hallam University. 

Maddie Benn-Banham from Sheffield Hallam University

As many of you know, Manchester has a special relationship with the bee, an emblem of the city’s industrious spirit and communal strength, symbolizing Manchester’s global reach and hard-working ethos.

Inspired by this powerful symbol, Maddie delved deep into the world of bees, exploring the intricate structure of beehives and the complex roles within a bee colony. Her research revealed that over 75% of bee species are solitary, yet there is also a critical role of worker bees in social colonies where they are essential for the survival of the group. Maddie’s design beautifully parallels the dynamic between individuality and community—a theme that resonates deeply within this city!

Winner, Maddie Benn-Banham with the Next Generation Award judges

Judge John Williams, Director at SpaceInvador, said:

‘Maddie’s winning design demonstrated a well-thought-out concept woven seamlessly through each space that considered all the senses. Her confident presentation captivated us. The beautiful visuals and accompanying detailed specifications immersed us in her ideas, making it a standout winner!’

Accommodation and/or travel expenses during Maddie’s placement have been funded by CIUK members John Lewis & Partners, Sanderson Design Group and Sylvan.

Award Highlights

The judges were both surprised and delighted by the quality of all the entries for this year. Lydia Harrison from Sheffield Hallam University’s work stood out and the judges therefore chose to highlight her design as Highly Commended.

Highly Commended, Lydia Harrison from Sheffield Hallam University

Lydia addressed wellbeing with the aim to thrive rather than just survive, understanding that our surroundings have a huge impact on how well this is achieved. Lydia’s design was passionately presented. The beautifully rendered visuals showcased a well composed and muted material palette, perfectly aligning with her concept. The whole story was engaging with intelligent use of space and a well-thought-out specification. A standout contender indeed!

The first commended prize please was presented to Aleenah Ahmed from University of Central Lancashire to the stage. Aleenah crafted envi­ronments that promote relaxation, comfort, and vitality. Incorporating, natural light, ventilation to utilizing eco-friendly materials, encouraging movement, areas for reflection and relaxation.

Commended, Aleenah Ahmed from University of Central Lancashire

Diana Celella, Interior Designer & Director at The Drawing Room Interiors, said:

‘Aleenah’s concept, drawing on the cosy and calming essence of Autumn, was delightful. Her thorough research, including considerations like sunlight and circadian lighting, demonstrated a commendable attention to detail. The result was an intriguing and successful design concept that resonated with the audience.’

The second commended student, also from University of Central Lancashire, was Maria Abdellaoui. Maria’s focused on burnout, aiming to restore the short lived optimism that can be initially felt, withdrawing every visitor from the distracting world so they can focus on what ails them. 

Commended, Maria Abdellaoui from University of Central Lancashire

Rita Bancroft, Marketing Director at NEWH UK, said:

‘Maria addressed a gap in the market like no other entry. She went beyond the brief to create a facility that would appeal to both residents and non-residents. A very clever utilization of space that would make a meaningful difference in reducing stress. I particularly liked the interactive ceramic workshop which I’d love to join.’

The highly commended and commended designers were awarded copies of ‘Sustainable Interior Design’ by Chloe Bullock, generously provided of SpaceInvader.

A Platform for Future Stars

The Next Generation Awards are a foundational part of CIUK’s commitment to celebrating expertise within the commercial interiors industry. By recognizing these talented designers, CIUK and Design Insider are not only spotlighting future stars but also shaping the industry’s future.

CIUK Annual Dinner, an evening of celebration

This inaugural event has successfully set the stage for an annual celebration of the next generation of designers, apprentices, leaders and marketeers. As we applaud this year’s winners and participants for their incredible creativity and vision, we also look forward to the new categories and opportunities that next year’s awards will bring.

Sean Holt, Managing Director of Commercial Interiors UK said:

‘Our awards will continue to champion the next generation of designers and the growth of the awards in 2025 allows us to expand this platform to reward the considerable expertise from within Commercial Interiors UK member’s businesses, supporting the next generation throughout the whole commercial interiors sector!’ 


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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