Fatima's winning design leads to prestigious work placement

Product and Furniture Design student Fatima Manji is celebrating after being awarded a prestigious three-month work placement with a leading landscaping company which will put her winning design into production.


Fatima (second from the right) with Marshalls representatives Chris Lamb, Jon Scott and Abigail Kellet

The second year De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) student impressed judges from Marshalls, the UK’s leading provider of landscaping, interior design, paving and flooring products, in a competition to design and prototype street furniture such as benches, planters and bike racks.

Fatima was one of 12 second and third year Product and Furniture Design students who gathered in the university’s new Vijay Patel building – DMU’s spectacular home to art and design courses - as the winners of the design project were announced.

The collaboration between DMU and Marshalls has taken place for the last two years, with the winner landing a three-month placement at company’s HQ, which includes their final product being put into production and sold online.

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The 31-year-old said: “I was very surprised to win, it was so unexpected for me and this whole project has been such an amazing experience.”

Fatima’s design, which was a bench with individual seating, was praised due to its innovation and the fact that it could potentially appeal to a wide range of people.

She said: “I was interested in doing this as it goes into a lot of detail about examining how people react around street furniture in public places such as train stations, and I wanted to be able to bring something new to the market.

“Public spaces are constantly changing and I loved that I was able to push the concept, find innovation and search for new things to design while still sticking to Marshalls philosophy.”


Group shot outside DMU's Vijay Patel Building

In second place was Harris Priest, a 21-year-old third year student, and taking third place was Toren Storer, a 20-year-old second year student.

Associate Head of School of Design and Principal Lecturer at DMU Stuart Lawson, who tutored the students with Senior Lecturer Nicki Theokritoff during the project, said: “It has been incredibly successful this year, with a total of 12 students taking part.

“All were very competitive and benefitted greatly from working with a real commercial client and on a brief which enabled them to create concepts for new realms.

“The winning design range from last year is being launched at the beginning of March – which goes to show what an important opportunity this is for the students, the university and Marshalls.

“We are already making plans to run the competition brief again next year for the third year running – again with cash prizes, the students being paid for the design rights to their work and with Marshalls offering the winner a three-month placement.”

This year’s winning product will be featured in Marshalls’ new Stratic collection, which is a range aimed at concept architects focusing mainly on street furniture. 

Abigail Kellett, Project Manager at Marshalls, said: “The idea of DMU and Marshalls collaborating first came about in late 2015 and this is when myself and colleagues Jon Scott and Chris Lamb, who are also managers at the company, came together.

“The first competition happened in spring 2016 and it was great to have the opportunity to make use of functionality and trends as well as taking on competitors in the marketplace, which is why I hope the project happens again next year.”

Posted on Wednesday 22nd February 2017

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