Commercial nous gives Birmingham student winning edge

Company: Hartman Outdoor Products UK Ltd

Telford-based Hartman UK launched the competition with Birmingham City University to find the next generation of outdoor furnituretextile designers last year. After receiving over 80 entries, leading outdoor furniture company, Hartman, crowned Sophie Hawkesford, a second year student on the University’s Textile Design BA (Hons) course, overall winner. Her design will be applied to seat cushions which will feature in Hartman UK’s 2015 collection.

Sophie was presented with a £300 cheque at a ceremony at the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design on Thursday 18th April. Runners-up, Amy Sellers and Josie Holuj  were also presented with cheques of £100 each.

The student community is an untapped resource in helping businesses innovate and come up with new ideas.  Large and small companies can benefit hugely from engaging with the HE sector by sharing the strategic issues, collaborating on the development of new concepts and investing time in sharing resource issues.  Partnerships that embrace these areas allow HE to respond with students who are trained to deal with real issues in the workplace and to add value through innovative solutions. 

Paul Facey, Hartman UK’s Sales Director, said: “The quality of entries was exceptionally high, but Sophie stood out as she demonstrated a good understanding of the brief and strong commercial awareness. Her fabric design will look fantastic across a wide range of furniture and we’re sure it will be a huge success when it launches.”

As part of the brief the students were also tasked to develop a range of design outcomes for The Garden Centre Group.  Sophie Gehin, Garden - Buyer (Furniture & Barbecues) for The Garden Centre Group and her team chose Textile Design  BA (Hons) student Melissa Houston as the overall winner, with Arian Parkinson and Lily Evangeline Grace Smith 2nd and 3rd prize winners respectively.  Melissa’s overall collection featured a series of contemporary ‘mix and match’ floral and stripe designs which fitted the brief and captured the brand of The Garden Centre Group really well.

Clare Langford, Textile Design lecturer, said: “Our students got such a lot out of the Hartman project, it really helped to motivate and focus their creative design thinking and resulted in some fantastic work. Live projects are so vital in developing well rounded and industry-ready students.”

For more information about Hartman visit

For more information about the Garden Centre Group visit

For more information about Birmingham City University visit

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