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New Designers 2021 Winner: Sophie Hickman

Final year BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design student, Sophie Hickman, recently won the Habitat Future Design Award – Furniture, Product, Industrial and Spatial Design at this year’s New Designers awards ceremony.

The brief called for designs that could sit alongside Habitat’s curated collection of beautiful, sustainable and functional products and furniture, and Sophie’s design was just what they were looking for! 

Sophie Hickman's Alegra Design

Alegra is a plywood moulded wall shelf, which utilises colour to enhance people’s mood and mental health. The shelf features interchangeable opaque and transparent coloured acrylic sliding doors which overlap and merge together to create different shades of colour.

As Sophie explains: “Alegra offers the option of 6 coloured acrylic doors, as well as the choice of three veneers for the outer shell, providing the consumer with the opportunity to vary the colour options to suit their mood and environment. The combination of the two acrylic types provides privacy in some areas to cover clutter, whilst also allowing parts of the shelf to be exposed to display nice ornaments.

The idea of the Alegra shelf initiated from my research report where I delved deep into the impact of colour on mood and mental health. The research I collated led me to discover that colour impacts everyone in different ways, based on many factors such as upbringing and gender. Therefore I wanted to create a product where the user can choose from a range of colours in order to allow them to pick a colour that makes them the happiest.”

Sophie Hickman's Alegra Design

New Designers is the UK’s leading exhibition of emerging design talent, providing a unique platform to connect graduates with industry professionals, creative businesses and consumers, for creative exchange, career opportunities and collaboration.

“To win an award as prestigious as the New Designers Habitat Future Design Award is one of my greatest achievements which has really topped off a great three years at BCU. I am extremely excited and grateful for the opportunities that have arisen as a result.”

Sophie will graduate from BCU this summer after completing her Product and Furniture Design degree. She spoke about her favourite aspects of studying at BCU and how her experience has set her up for the next step in her career:

“Whilst studying product and furniture design at BCU I have discovered who I am as a designer whilst also making the best friends and memories. This course has helped me to develop a strong skillset in all aspects of the design process and I have become extremely competent in using the Adobe Creative Suite, as well as Keyshot and 3D CAD software - in particular SolidWorks. Lastly, I’d like to say thank you to all the staff at BCU, both the tutors and technicians, who have offered great guidance and support throughout my time at University, allowing me and other students to get the most out of our degree.”

Sophie Hickman's Alegra Design

Sophie’s success at New Designers means she will receive mentoring from Habitat’s Senior Designers where she’ll gain invaluable industry experience. Her Alegra design will be purchased by Habitat and she will be supported to get her product manufactured.

Considering life after graduation, Sophie commented: “As sad as I am to be leaving Birmingham City University, I am excited for the future. Now that I’ve graduated my aim is to make the most of all upcoming opportunities and get a job as a product designer, specialising in furniture design.”

All at Birmingham School of Architecture and Design offer their congratulations to Sophie on her award and look forward to seeing what she achieves in her future career!


Find out more about our BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design