This not just a design challenge...this is an M&S design challenge

Report this content

Staffordshire University students have impressed design experts at Marks and Spencer in a competition set by the multinational retailer

As part of a six-week live brief BA (Hons) Surface Pattern and Textile Design students had the opportunity to work on a typical M&S homeware project and build their industry connections.

M&S tasked the students with designing a print focused outdoor dining range for Summer 2021 - exploring ways that really consider the customer dining experience. The M&S Homeware Design team worked closely with the students, offering feedback and support as they developed their ideas.

Last week, second year students Brioni Allen and Molly Harvey were announced winners of the competition and could see their final designs produced by M&S. The pair impressed the judges with their inventive projects and stood out for their use of colour and print handwriting.

Brioni, 21 from Basford in Stoke-on-Trent, said: ”I have really enjoyed working with the Homeware Design Team at M&S as it has helped me in many ways. One way it’s helped me is by bettering my skills as a designer through the helpful feedback provided by professionals in the business.

“Knowing there is a chance my designs could end up being produced by M&S is unbelievable and very exciting, which has allowed me to gain confidence within myself and my work. The best way to describe how I feel is just WOW!”

Molly Harvey, 19 from Northamptonshire, added: “It’s very exciting to be chosen as a winner and it is a really rewarding feeling that my designs could end up being produced! I hope to work for a company such as M&S as a commercial in house designer, so this opportunity will help boost my skills and CV to enable that to happen.

The brief was so exiting and so fun to work on! It was very clear and a great taster into industry to see how a commercial project would run and what is expected. I’ve learned so many new skills and has been such a great experience working with the M&S design team. I am so appreciative of their time and the feedback they have given was so in depth, relevant and helpful.”

Karen Thomas, Head of Design – Home, said: “At M&S we are passionate about supporting the talent pipeline through our connections with some of the many fantastic design courses that our universities and colleges have to offer. We believe in sharing our industry expertise and setting students up for success!”

Work from all of the students involved in the competition can be seen on Instagram using the hashtag #spstaffslivebrief.

The BA (Hons) Surface Pattern and Textile Design course has strong industry links and provides a range of opportunities for work placements, ‘live’ industry projects, competitions and freelance work with companies such as Hallmark Cards, Next and Johnsons Tiles.

Discover more about studying at Staffordshire University at a Virtual Open Day – book your place.

Amy Platts

Media Communications Officer

t: 01782 292702

m: 07799 341911


Staffordshire University is the Connected University; connected to the needs of students, academic partners, business and society. Our main city campus in Stoke-on-Trent features excellent learning and teaching facilities and good transport links. We have specialist Centres of Excellence in Healthcare Education at Stafford and Shrewsbury.  

We were recognised with a Gold award in the 2019 Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) for delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for students.  

We were shortlisted for University of the Year at the THE Awards 2020 and were named ‘Midlands University of the Year’ at the Midlands Business Awards 2020. 
Staffordshire University has signed up to the Civic University Agreement, pledging to play a leading role in improving the regional economy and enhancing quality of life in local communities. We were recognised in the top 15 for social inclusion in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. We aim to be a leading university for digital technologies building on our proud computing heritage and in 2019 launched Staffordshire University London’s Digital Institute which is committed to preparing students for careers in new and emerging tech industries. 

We are a Top 250 Young University (Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2020) and are connected globally, with more than 11,000 people studying Staffordshire University degrees overseas.