Top retailer looks to Cass for next big thing

Major furniture and accessories brand Heal's searches for future talent at London Met

Date: 4 July 2013

The Cass finalists, from left: Alexander Mueller, Mika Ogarca, Douglas Montgomery and Michael Randall 

Luxury interior design brand Heal’s has chosen to work with London Met’s Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design in a bid to discover the design stars of the future.

The London-based furniture company is running a competition in The Cass, which it described as ‘home of one of the UK’s most highly regarded degree courses for future [legendary designers] Matthew Hiltons and Tom Dixons.’

The work of 22 BA Furniture and Product Design students was inspected by Heal’s before the selection of four finalists. They now face a public vote to crown one of them the winner.

One such hopeful is Michael Randall, who took a Native American approach to a common problem – where to hang your coat.

“Totem for Heals is a coat stand that was inspired by the Native American peoples’ use of Totem poles to display their family lineage,” explained Michael. “In our own, modern domestic environment our coat stands are also the place where we display our family lineage by hanging our coats together.

“It feels great to be selected as one of the finalists, but I do have a twist of apprehension. I know how good the other finalists’ products are. Let’s hope the coat stand stands up - figuratively and literally!”

Also in the running, alongside fellow students Mika Ogarca and Doug Montgomery, is BA Furniture and Product Design student Alexander Mueller, who takes an experimental approach to furniture making.

He said: “My proposal for Heal's was a limited edition range of handmade coffee tables which explore movement in structures. It's great to be part of the Heal's competition, and I am very grateful to be given this opportunity.”

Alexander’s experience in The Cass was a positive one, and he cites a range of factors as contributing to his productive time there.  “I really enjoyed studying at The Cass. I think it was a combination of the Life Projects, tutors and the great facilities which I most enjoyed.”

For the young designers, the Heal’s competition not only represents the opportunity for industry prestige - it could also prove very lucrative.

The winner’s design will go on sale in Heal's, for which the designer will receive a design Royalty, or the company will buy the item from them.  

The winner will also get to work with the Heal's buying team to bring their product to the market, as well as an award at the Heal's Designer Dinner during London Design Week.

Tim Ely, Head of Buying at Heal’s, visited The Cass to inspect the students’ work and select the four finalists. He said: “We found it very interesting how the standard of work improved greatly as the project progressed. The students became more confident in their thoughts and they took on board our feedback in terms of considering the end user and how their product will be sold and delivered to them.  

“The four finalists stood out for the journey and thought process they had travelled through to arrive with their finished product. Their designs are clearly individual and have a sense of the designers own personality.”   

The finalists’ designs will appear on the Heal's website when voting opens on 5 August.  

Find out more about The Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design.