Derby students make final of national graphic design competition

3 July 2015

Three graphic design students at the University of Derby are preparing to pitch their eye-catching projects at a Dragons’ Den-style event after making it to the final of a national competition.  

Kate Fenton, Phil Willan and Daniel Hollyoake have made the top five in the POPAI Student Design Awards 2015, which recognise up-and-coming POP (Point of Purchase) creative talent in the UK and Ireland. 

Entrants were invited to submit visuals for a striking display that would attract a shopper to make an impulse purchase for a product of their choice.

And on Wednesday, July 8, the finalists will each be given a five-minute slot to pitch their designs to a panel of four industry professionals in London.

Daniel will be presenting his packaging design and free-standing display unit for Morrisons LED energy saving bulbs, Phil will be pitching his display for Aquarian fish food and Kate will be showcasing her Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Bakery design.

Kate, 20, said: “My design is aimed to reintroduce Play-Doh to children. I've used food, particularly cakes, as a subject because every child loves them, so the aim is to give them a kick start to put down the computer gadgets and choose Play-Doh. 

“I couldn’t believe it when I found out I had made the top five in the competition. I was shocked but really excited.

“I've been watching a few episodes of Dragons’ Den on YouTube just to get a feel of how the entrepreneurs pitch their designs and how they respond to questions from the judges. I think the main thing is to be confident and smile!”

The students were encouraged to take part in the annual competition as part of a Design Strategies module for their University course. They each had to submit a brief about their display as well as upload images and a case study to the POPAI Student Design Awards website.

Daniel designed a free-standing display unit for LED bulbs, creating packaging that is able to stand alone or feature many clustered columns.

Student designed pitch for Dragon's Den style event

The 29-year-old said: “The triangular formation of the stands and packaging really gives an eye-catching element to encourage shoppers to purchase an energy saving bulb. They may be slightly more expensive initially but in the long run benefit purchasers by saving money on energy bills as these LED bulbs will last around 20 years.

“The nature of design-based competitions is that you never fully know what the judges are after. I will be taking a working 1:1 scale model of my design to demonstrate to the judges the practical functionality of the design.”

Phil’s design project is called Roll Up Your Sleeves with Aquarian.

The 26-year-old said: “I wanted to design for an industry that I am very familiar with so I used my experience of working in an aquatic store for seven years and created a POP display for Aquarian fish food.

“Without wanting to give too much away, I want first time buyers to interact with the product like they would with an aquarium.

“I am nervous about the event but I always think that getting nervous shows that you are doing something important so I am excited too.”

The winner of the competition will be announced on the day and will receive a £1,000 cheque prize. Second place will receive £250.

The winner will then be invited to the annual POPAI Awards on Thursday, September 3, in London, where they will be presented with a trophy.

Tim Shore, programme leader for BA (Hons) Graphic Design, said: “We are delighted that three of our graphic design students have made POPAI’s top shortlist for the Student Design Awards 2015. We are really excited for Kate, Daniel and Phil - it’s a great opportunity for them to pitch their work in London on a national stage.”