Iconic furniture brand Vitra inspires students in new design competition

Competition winner Bethany Isaac created a striking interior lighting concept, which saw strands of metal weaved around each other and the bulbs themselves

Design students at the University of Plymouth channelled their creative energies to produce a series of imaginative projects which matched the ethos of an iconic global furniture company.

Over the space of around 10 weeks, they were set the task of researching and presenting projects based on either the collection or the showrooms of Swiss-based manufacturer Vitra.

The finished designs – which included a full catalogue – were presented to Vitra UK and the winner announced at a presentation evening held at the University.

The competition was organised by design lecturers Jonathan Forster and Tavs Jorgensen and was open to third year students across the University’s 3D Design courses.

It was won by Bethany Isaac who, along with runners-up Jack Emery and Joshua Milton, won a trip to Vitra’s design campus on the Swiss-German border as their prize.

For her design, Bethany created a striking interior lighting concept, which saw strands of metal weaved around each other and the bulbs themselves. She said:

“A lot of my work is based around either lighting or ceramics, but I thought lighting worked best for the Vitra competition. I wanted to create something which complemented what they already do but added something extra, and I never expected to be selected as the winner. It is a huge vote of confidence in my work, and with the feedback I received it is something I will now look to build on for the rest of my course.”

A spokesperson for Vitra UK added:

"The standard of work produced during this competition is of an exceptional quality and Bethany’s solution was a very worthy winner. At Vitra we aim to fuel imagination and creativity and are thrilled to have been part of this initiative.” 

The competition was tailored towards both product and spatial designers, with the former being asked to design items targeted at Vitra consumers and the latter to create the blueprint for a new showroom to showcase the brand.

Jonathan Forster said:

“Vitra is a company that really champions design, and in particular giving freedom to its designers. So it is a good model for our students to aspire to. This project has given them the opportunity to further find their creative voice on a live brief for a prestigious client. It has also expanded their understanding of a market place that they will soon be experiencing after they graduate.”

3D Design

Work alongside a team of established designers and experienced educators. With achievements that include international awards, research papers, public exhibitions and experience working for major clients, our design team helps you to gain hands-on experience and understanding of design from both an industry and an academic perspective.

Personal and group tutorials go hand in hand with lectures on careers, portfolio surgeries, business advice, overseas exchange, frequent public exhibitions, and 'Dragons Den' style business games such as FLUX. 

With successes in major competitions like the RSA and D&AD Awards, our graduates are rewarded with employment in industry with companies such as Dyson, Lego, BBC, Foster & Partners and Zoeftig. Gaining experience in our enterprising culture, you will have opportunities to regularly exhibit your work for public scrutiny and learn from real-world events.

With confidence in enterprise, you can work towards joining our many graduates who have moved on to set up their own businesses, while or advance to work alongside those others who have progressed to postgraduate studies or gone on to teacher training.

Undergraduate opportunities:

The BA (Hons) 3D Design course enables you to choose from one of three specialist pathways or a general award. Choose from the following pathways:

  • BA (Hons) 3D Design 
  • BA (Hons) 3D Design Designer Maker, 
  • BA (Hons) 3D Design Product Designer and 
  • BA (Hons) 3D Design Spatial and Interior Designer

Postgraduate opportunities:

From developing products that meet user needs to planning the architecture of tomorrow, we know that design is a wide-ranging area. And we’re the only UK University to offer four specialist MA Design routes, each exploring different aspects of the design diaspora.

Our four core awards are:

  • MA Design: Design Products
  • MA Design: Spatial Practice
  • MA Design: Sustainable Futures
  • MA Design: Maker and Materials