Youthful design talent recognised

A student’s unusual design for a seating system has earned him an award from the National Design Museum

Oundle School pupil Henry Chen (16) has won second prize in the National Design Museum 14-19 awards. The brief was ‘Surprise’, which involved designing an external structure outside the museum which would provide a meeting point for passers-by.

Two hundred and fifty young designers from all over the country entered the competition. Henry’s presentation of a seating system impressed the judges at the awards ceremony in London. Not only did his concept show elegance and ingenuity, they said, but he had considered the sustainability of the design by proposing use of a hybrid nanomaterial to convert heat energy from the person sitting on the chair into light energy.

As part of the awards ceremony, Henry took part in a workshop with one of the museum’s current designers in residence and have a guided tour. 

Oundle School design and technology teacher Becca Lowndes said: “Henry has an extraordinary talent for sketching and is proving to be extremely driven in his ambition to become an automotive designer. The morning at the Design Museum gave Henry the chance to work with some of the country’s most promising young designers. His enthusiasm and knowledge made him stand out as one to watch.”

The judging process included senior representatives from the Design Museum, Creative and Cultural Skills, Shape Arts and the museum’s designer in residence, architect James Christian.

Henry himself said: “It was a pleasure to attend the celebration event held by the Design Museum and I enjoyed every part of it. Our talent in design was recognised and we were encouraged to be imaginative and creative. The reason I chose my particular design was not only because it runs on sustainable energy, but I also like the idea that chairs and tables don’t need to look like the way they are stereotypically designed; their shapes could be unusual, in this case, cubes and pyramids lying sideways, which matches with the theme ‘Surprise’.

“My ambition is to work in automotive industries. For A level I have chosen art, DT, physics, maths and further maths and want to pursue my interests in engineering.”

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