Launching the Inaugural Commercial Interiors UK Next Generation Awards

Commercial Interiors UK and its media partner Design Insider launch their first Next Generation Award, this year honouring the creativity and innovation of the UK’s second-year Interior Design Degree students.

Celebrate at Commercial Interiors UK Annual Dinner, book tickets here!

Commercial Interiors UK (CIUK) and its members foster a close partnership with the interior design community, and by launching this award, they aim to nurture a continuous flow of fresh design talent into the industry, ensuring its vibrant future.

Sean Holt, Managing Director at Commercial Interiors UK commented:

“I’m incredibly excited for the Next Generation Awards, we’re cultivating the immense talent of interior design students, celebrating new talent, and shaping the future of our industry. This award is just the beginning; we are passionately committed to expanding this initiative in the coming years. Our goal is to celebrate and uplift new talent across the commercial interior supplier and designer community, fostering innovation and excellence in our industry. The future is bright with such emerging talent, and we are proud to build a platform which supports their journey.”

The Next Generation Award series will expand to celebrate the next generation of employees

This first Next Generation Award serves as a valuable opportunity for emerging interior designers to not only display their exceptional work but also to garner recognition within the industry and catch the eye of potential employers. Over coming years, the Next Generation Award series will expand to celebrate the next generation of employees entering the commercial interiors sector across a wide selection of roles crucial to the success of our sector.

Stuart Taylor, Commercial Interiors UK Organising Committee Chair, and Partner & Commercial Interiors Lead at John Lewis & Partners said:

“We’re excited to unveil this major new initiative which is intended to celebrate and showcase young talent by recognising them through this prestigious award. This initiative is an opportunity for talented interior design students to dive into our thriving commercial interiors industry. It offers the winner a chance to work with industry leaders, gain real-world insights, and establish career-defining connections. Join us in celebrating the future of the commercial interiors sector!”

Wellbeing in Design: The Heart of the Next Generation Challenge

This year’s brief has a wellbeing focus. Ben Channon, Director at Ekkist informed the students on how to approach this part of the brief:

“In a post-Covid world, designers are expected to create places that are not only healthy for the planet, but also healthy for the people who occupy them. We now know that the design of buildings can affect a wide range of wellbeing considerations, from the choices people make to how well they sleep, or how much they interact with other people. As a result, the built environment can have a significant impact on overall health outcomes – with better-designed buildings being able to positively impact mental health, reduce the risk of chronic illness, and even improve life expectancy for occupants.”

Ben Channon, Director at Ekkist shared his wellness expertise within the student brief

The students have been asked to design a breakout area within a fictional wellness hotel at Media City UK, Manchester. The design for the breakout area should demonstrate the hotel’s commitment to the wellbeing of its guests. The breakout area should include Relaxation space, Workspace and a Meeting space.

Academic Collaboration: Nurturing Student Creativity

5 leading UK universities are participating the the Next Generation Awards 2024

UK universities have chosen to either incorporate this award brief into their curriculum or offer it to their students as an extra-curricular opportunity, as they recognise the opportunity this offers to their students. Participating Universities this year include:

University of Birmingham, Teesside University, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Huddersfield and University of Salford.

Expert Eyes: The Esteemed Panel Shaping our Sector’s Future

The judging panel consists of five industry experts, each bringing their own unique perspective to the judging room.  Students will present their work to the judges either in person or through an online meeting, giving them the opportunity to explain their design decisions and to enthuse the panel with their work. The panel members are:

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, Alys Bryan, Managing Editor at Design Insider.

When asked about the importance of the Next Generation Awards, John Williams, Director at SpaceInvader said:

“The next generation of interior designers are the future leaders of the industry, and so it’s important to support them in their early career stages. Starting to integrate students into the industry at this stage gives opportunities to guide them to learn, grow and gain hands-on experience. Early exposure to the industry also offers invaluable practical insight to prepare them for the real-world scenarios they’ll encounter in their professional lives. It is a mutually beneficial connection to have, and the value should be recognised from the new ideas and creativity without the limitations of design standards and set briefs that students can bring into the industry.”

Students will present their work to the judges either in person or through an online meeting

When asked why he has chosen to support Commercial Interiors UK Next Generation Awards, Arun Rana said:

 “Associations like Commercial Interiors UK are great to support. They are leading the way with connecting not only industry professionals and suppliers but going one step further with students. Shifting our focus to the future of the industry is key to ensure we maintain the strength of the UK design industry.”

 “CIUK is not only making the connection but also promoting the hospitality design industry with the 2023 brief. It’s a pathway I never knew about, and bringing awareness to students helps them to make informed decisions early on about all the different routes they could progress in.”

A Gateway to Success: The Winning Opportunity

The winning student will be awarded a two week work placement with multi-award-winning interior design agency, SpaceInvader. The winner’s accommodation and travel costs will be covered and this has been made possible by three Commercial Interiors UK members, John Lewis & Partners, Sanderson Design Group and Sylvan.

SpaceInvader is a multi-award-winning interior design agency and fast-becoming one of the UK’s premier consultancies. The company was originally founded in 2009 by Director/Founder John Williams and started life as a commercial sector specialist, working on building refurbishments (Cat A) and fit-out works (Cat B), before developing its offer further into the hotel and hospitality, retail, education and community-based sectors, as well as, more recently, the growing market in PRS residential schemes.

John Williams, Director at SpaceInvader

John Williams, Director at SpaceInvader commented:

“Supporting Commercial Interiors UK’s student award aligns with our studio’s core values and aspirations. The awards’ focus on celebrating creativity and innovative design concepts resonates deeply with our ethos of pushing boundaries, fostering innovation, and nurturing emerging talent within the industry. Furthermore, our support for these awards stems from our commitment to the evolution and advancement of the field of commercial interiors. We believe that by acknowledging and showcasing the ground breaking work of students, we contribute to the overall elevation of design standards within the commercial space. Encouraging innovative design concepts not only fosters a vibrant and dynamic industry but also sets new benchmarks for creativity and functionality.”

Three highly commended students will receive certificates.

Fostering Future Talent: Our Sponsors’ Crucial Role

By funding the Next Generation Award prize John Lewis & Partners, Sanderson Design Group and Sylvan have assisted in making the launch of these awards possible.

Sarah Stewart, Head of UK Brands at Sanderson Design Group commented:

“For Sanderson Design Group, supporting this competition for second-year Interior Design Degree students is an investment in the future of the industry. This award helps shape the next generation of designers, fosters innovation, contributes to the visibility of emerging talent and creates a bridge between academia and the professional world.”

Celebrating Design: The Annual Dinner & Award Showcase

The Annual Dinner, a cornerstone event for commercial interior suppliers and designers, offers an opportunity to forge new connections and strengthen existing ones. Known for its vibrant and welcoming atmosphere, guests can expect an evening filled with superb dining, top-notch entertainment, and the exciting addition of the Next Generation Awards.

Book your tickets here

The Annual Dinner is a celebration of our industry’s spirit and a commitment to supporting its future, where great food, fantastic entertainment, and professional camaraderie meet to celebrate both present achievements and emerging talents.

CIUK Annual Dinner hosting the Next Generation Award will be held at Halle St Peters in Manchester on Thursday 25th April 2024.


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
View all posts by Alys Bryan →