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Hartman Outdoor (UK) Design Competition

Hartman Outdoor (UK)

Stemming from an ever-growing relationship with leading outdoor furniture company Hartman UK, Birmingham City University is set to see one of its talented student’s designs materialise after they wowed a panel of expert judges with a beautifully designed answer to outdoor furniture for the UK market.

With assistance from renowned gardener, broadcaster and television personality David Domoney, Telford based Hartman set final year BA Design Studies (Product and Interior Product Design) students a brief to design a new collection of outdoor furniture for 2016, complete with a “wild-card” element to encourage the students to boost their creative flair. As with previous collaborations, the calibre of outputs from the students was magnificent; however, this year’s additional element of David Domoney’s input demanded more of the students – the creation of a collection that both delivers on the bottom line and also compliments the aesthetics of gardens and nature.

The judges were so impressed with the entries they have announced that the winning design – yet to be announced – is set to go into commercial production, pending sampling. The project is now in its third year following the successes of the past two years which have resulted in several students’ designs going into production.

The judging panel could only describe the winning design as “innovative, aesthetically beautiful and the perfect complement to gardens”. The level of range of designs and concepts was likened by the judges to that of experienced, professional designers in the industry.

David Domoney commented, “I had a very enjoyable day judging the incredibly varied designs by students. It’s inspiring to see so much young talent bursting forth from university, and I found their ideas and concepts truly inspirational. It’s been a great year for the competition.”

The Client

Looking to inspire a new direction and way of thinking, Hartman UK, based in Telford, has collaborated with Birmingham City University to find the next generation of design talent. Hartman approached the University after seeing their Trends showcase at the Interiors 2010 exhibition, this year’s project marks the third year of collaboration. Working with the academic team leading on the BA Product and Interior Product Design courses at Birmingham City University’s School of Fashion, Textiles and 3D Design, Hartman briefed students on their current product range, specifying the areas for development, opportunities and limitations relating to the manufacturing process.

This industry-led project was developed as a competitive programme embedded into the curriculum creating new product concepts for outdoor furniture.  This year the Co-Presenter of ITV’s Love Your Garden’, David Domoney, a partner of Hartman UK, joined the team to contribute to the project – offering expertise and insight into the outdoor furniture and gardening industries.  David’s contribution added a refreshing new dimension with feedback, providing a different perspective for the students to consider.                                                                                                                          

As part of the design development process students must consider commerciality and trends as well as material and production restraints such as shipping container sizes and durability. The final outcomes for new Product concepts need to be commercial and appeal to a wide age group. These considerations ensure the final outcomes reflect the industry standards – through this live brief the students experience is as representative of the real industry as possible.

"The graduate labour market is hugely competitive, but if students can develop their employability skills while they are studying it will help them to stand out and get a clearer idea about their career path when they leave.

"Nurturing young designers who not only creatively stand out but who are also commercially savvy is hugely important to the future of our industry. We hope that by launching this competition and strengthening our relationship with Birmingham City University we will be able to help develop the skills and knowledge of the next generation of furniture designers, building a talent pool for our sector."

Paul Facey, Hartman Outdoor (UK) Sales Director


The winner will win £1,000, with the runner up student also seeing their design considered for production for Hartman’s 2016 collection and receiving a £500 prize.

With the winning designs set to be showcased at a customer trade show in July 2016, available to buy from April 2016, the judges are looking forward to announcing the results of the competition and presenting the winner and runner up with their well-deserved prizes.

The results of the competition will be announced soon.


  • Product innovation – a wide selection of unique ideas to develop new ranges and concepts for Hartman(UK)
  • Access to up and coming designers with an ability to provide fresh perspectives and review new ideas
  • Promotion and PR for the company
  • Supports the company’s wider strategic aims to encourage new design practice
  • Student experience working within a real client brief and design conditions