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On Thursday 29 November, The Society of British & International Design (SBID) and partner, BE OPEN Think Tank announced the winners of Designed for Business 2018. The new national competition designed to showcase emerging talent promotes equal opportunities and nurtures the relationship between students and the working world. Finalists, along with key names from the design business community and academia, gathered at the House of Commons for the prize-giving ceremony in a culmination of the six-month-long judging process.

The entries were judged by an esteemed panel from across the creative industries including key representatives from companies including Sebastian Conran Associates, Amazon UK, Christie’s Education, John Lewis, Amara, HG DesignWorks, Hill House Interiors and VitrA, as well as creative educators from a number of leading universities across the UK.

OVERALL WINNER – Katarina Spenerova, University of Dundee

SBID student design competition Designed for Business Student Award winnersKatarina Spenerova was announced as the Overall Winner of the Designed for Business Student Awards competition, claiming the life-changing cash prize of £30,000. Among the interior design finalists, Katarina’s winning project, PETAL – a modular building system that allows communities to grow in an organic way – was chosen due to its originality in providing an inventive solution to the housing crisis in today’s society. The project looks at ‘future proofing’ and how to combat the rising cost of living in response to rocketing house prices, the expense and relative insecurity of the rental market, as well as the provision of poor quality new-build homes that are built from materials that pollute the air. Katarina’s project is built around quality, adaptability and ‘shareability’, effectively facilitating the opportunity to modify the size of buildings organically depending on the needs of the inhabitants and the local community.

We interviewed Katarina to find out what being named the Overall Winner means to her, and what she plans to do with the prize money!

How do you feel about winning your category?

I am truly grateful for the opportunity to enter such a competition and incredibly delighted to receive recognition for what I created. The money is amazing, however it is not the only thing I take from this experience. Learning that skilful industry professionals can see a potential in me is what will drive me to push the boundaries to succeed. Becoming an overall winner is a massive achievement and I cannot thank those who helped me to get there enough for their support. The win has made me believe in the weight of my ideas and also even more determined to achieve my goals to make a positive difference in the world.

What do you intend to spend the prize money on?

I find collaborative design process very exciting and invaluable in order to produce quality and aesthetically pleasing outcomes with a positive impact on physical and psychological wellbeing. I always knew I wanted to have my own studio and a workshop where I could collaborate with other designers and makers to create practical, yet original and bespoke human-centred commercial and residential spaces.

The prize money will serve me on that journey to reach this goal. I will invest further in developing my professional skills, and after some years of having experience working in the design industry, I will equip myself with a design studio where I will initiate experimental and collaborative projects focusing on designing for a purpose and the community.

How has this achievement made a difference to your career prospects?

Further developing my skill set in a practice I share values with is very important to me. I believe this achievement will play a significant role right from the start of my professional career as it clearly projects my interests in inclusive design, accessibility and sustainability. My future employer will identify with that, enabling me to grow while translating my values into a functional use.

We look forward to catching up with Katarina later in the year to find out how 2019 is panning out for her and what remains of the £30,000 prize fund! One thing is for sure; she’ll be bringing in the impending New Year with a smile on her face!

Click to see Katarina’s project


The Designed for Business Student Awards 2019 for third years and recent graduates will be launching in Spring with another life-changing cash prize.

The SBID Get Me 2 The Top 2019 competition for first and second year students will also be opening this January.

To find out more about SBID student competitions, click here.

In the most recent issue of eSociety, Volume 7 Issue 3, SBID spoke to Russian entrepreneur and the founder of the BE OPEN Foundation, Elena Baturina. The international creative think-tank, BE OPEN has recently collaborated with SBID to organise a student competition with a £30,000 cash prize. We find out more about what lead her to the creative industry and how creativity plays a vital role in business and building the future.

What is your own relationship with creativity? How has it enhanced your life?

I’m first of all a businesswoman and entrepreneur. Being involved in a wide spectrum of industries for many years, from construction and manufacturing to hospitality and renewable energy production, I have identified one common thing that lies at the core of a sustainable and productive endeavour and that is creativity.

From the design of a new building or product to a business development idea – it is the originality of thought that is required. That is why I believe that developing creative thinking in young people is so important, for they will shape of our future. Working with students and children in that sphere is at the heart of my BE OPEN Foundation, which was formed as a cultural and social initiative, aiming to bridge the gap between the great minds of our time and the promising new minds of the next generation, providing the necessary link to the knowledge and experience.

Elena Baturina, Founder of Be Open feature in SBID interior design magazine, eSociety, Vol7 Iss 3

Do you think that, in general, creative skills are viewed as being as important to our economy and financial prosperity as, say, business or IT skills?

I think we are getting there slowly but gradually. The progress is definitely obvious here in the UK. As I already mentioned, creative thinking is at the heart of all my businesses and I see it as a vital ingredient to every aspect of life. It’s important that the business leaders and politicians of tomorrow are able to have a, let me say, well-designed vision for what they would like to achieve and not solely rely on balance sheets. Injecting creativity into your thinking can give you a totally new approach – and sometimes that is the difference between success and failure.

Why have you teamed up with SBID to offer this fantastic opportunity for the winner of the competition?

The world is a competitive place, especially in the creative industry, and sometimes we all need a little help to achieve our goals. BE Open and SBID are both of the opinion that if we really want to make a difference then we have to offer students a very real, life-changing opportunity and this competition seemed like the perfect way to do that. The £30,000 prize is a life-changing amount of money and will either help a student launch their own creative business or pay their student debts, so they feel free to be creative rather than worrying about money.

Discover more about why Elena strives to support young creatives in the creative industry, what she predicts for the next generation of designers and how she thinks a creative and well-designed environment can influence the way we act, feel and think.

Read the rest of this feature →

Elena Baturina, Founder of Be Open feature in SBID interior design magazine, eSociety, Vol7 Iss 3

Elena Baturina, Founder of the BE OPEN Foundation

This feature originally appeared in Volume 7 Issue 3 of the official SBID interior design magazine, eSociety.


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