Gainsborough: Queen Elizabeth’s student Laura wins Best in Show at prestigious London design event

Queen Elizabeth's High School design students Laura Wilson and Amy Mackenzie with Sebastian Conran and his assistant
Queen Elizabeth's High School design students Laura Wilson and Amy Mackenzie with Sebastian Conran and his assistant

A design student from Queen Elizabeth’s High School has won a Best In Show award at a prestigious DesignED event in London, hosted by award-winning designer Sebastian Conran.

Laura Wilson impressed the celebrated designer with child’s chair in the shape of a giraffe as part of her GCSE resistant materials coursework

Queen Elizabeth's High School design students Laura Wilson and Amy Mackenzie with Sebastian Conran and his assistant

Queen Elizabeth's High School design students Laura Wilson and Amy Mackenzie with Sebastian Conran and his assistant

She wanted to make a product that a child could interact with and also have a practical and educational value.

Both Laura and fellow Queen Elizabeth’s design student Amy Mackenzie were chosen to show their work in London after their products were short-listed at a summer show at Sheffield Hallam University at which severla Queen Elizabeth’s students had been asked to show their work alongside degree pieces at the University.

Amy had designed and developed a range of dairy-free desserts as part of her A-level design project.

Last month, Laura, Amy and teach assistant Jayne Cook travelled down to London to visit the Sebastian Conran Design Studios

Both students were very nervous as they had to pitch their idea to Sebastian Conran himself.

Over his career, Sebastian Conran has designed and put into production many recognised product, including record sleeves for The Clash, and products for Mothercare, Nigella Lawson, Nissan and Virgin Atlantic just to mention a few.

He has also won numerous awards and also has a famous family – his brother is the fashion designer Jasper Conran and his father is the world renowned designer Terrance Conran.

When Amy and Laura arrived at the studio they were given a tour, Sebastian showed them round his workshops and even demonstrated some of the latest products he is working on.

They were able to ask questions and discuss the possibilities of careers within the design world.

Amy was the first of the pair to take the floor to pitch her product to Sebastian.

She discussed her product, the reasons she had decided to work on this as her project and showed images of her finished work.

She then surprised the room with samples of her work, these were appreciated and she received yet more encouraging feedback.

Sebastian asked her questions about her work, and said that this wasn’t really his field of expertise but thought that solving a genuine problem as part of her A-level coursework was excellent.

He also asked Amy what her secret to the dairy free elements of her desserts were, she wouldn’t tell as she has hopes that she may be able to develop the products further.

After watching a couple of pitches from others that had been short-listed Laura was then ready to share her idea.

She talked through the process she had gone through in order to reach her final product, the reason she had picked for that particular market and then showed images of her final product.

Again, Sebastian was encouraging about the work she had completed, he pointed out a couple of improvements that he would like to see her develop if she was to take the product further.

Sebastian asked more questions to all the short-listed students for the Best in Show category during lunch after which was said he would announce the winner.

After much deliberation, giving each student personalised feedback about their product, he announced that Laura and her giraffe chair were the winners.

Laura was thrilled to be selected and Sebastian commented on how he could see the product being sold in stores such as Ikea and that she should develop and pursue the product further.

He also presented her with a selection of his homeware products along with some information about designing and being a successful designer.

“Over the last few months we have had a very successful time in design technology at Queen Elizabeth’s,” said a school spokesman.

“Not only have we had Laura win Best in Show in London but we have also had Toby Sanderson win two awards at the Lincolnshire Young Designer of the Year competition in Sleaford.

“Congratulations to all of our students and if you would like to see more of the work we do in the department visit the Twitter feed at @ALevelProduct.”