“I didn’t know my sketches were going to be shown,” says Bradley Mitchell, nervously. He’s the winner of the Mercedes-Benz Design Award by Broadsheet, and our cameras are closing in on his impressive (but early) drawings of the Noughts and Crosses planter that won him the award.
Beyond the kudos of winning the first design award from Mercedes-Benz, a company with a storied history of innovation in design, Mitchell receives mentoring from the Jardan design team, which began this morning. Here at Jardan HQ, head designer Tom Shaw will show Mitchell how his design will go from sketch to prototype to product. When it’s finished, it will be proudly manufactured and sold by the company as a part of its range.
Mitchell fits in remarkably well with his surroundings. Though obviously nervous, he’s approachable and stylish, chatting casually with Shaw while taken on a tour through the office and factory, a sense of curiosity and excitement in the air.
“I’m so nervous, it’s absolutely overwhelming,” Mitchell says, beaming at Jardan’s new design sketches of his planter, which have just been shown to him. “It’s incredible how fast things have moved along. Jardan is such a well-oiled machine.”
The awards brief was to create an original design that will add value to a kitchen or dining space. Mitchell’s entry was a range of playfully named “Noughts and Crosses” planters, inspired by living in an apartment with no outdoor space.
Two years ago Mitchell moved from a house in Sydney to an apartment in Melbourne. Feeling “lost without a garden”, he began collecting plants and scattered them around his apartment. “I was bringing the outside inside,” he explains. And that’s exactly what he designed the planter to do: Bring life – herbs, plants and fragrance – into interior environments.
As they talked through initial production sketches, Shaw was impressed with Mitchell’s design resolution. “You can have a great idea, but it’s not always possible to get it made,” he explains. “Bradley had already looked at parts and materials we could use and made sure it was possible.”
“It just really fulfilled the brief,” Shaw continues. “It was creative, innovative and can be used in different spaces.” He also says that Mitchell’s design was chosen over entries from established designers and design studios, making the time Mitchell spent on his design even more impressive.
“A friend sent me the competition a week before it was due,” he laughs. “I spent the first three days experimenting with a few designs, then on the third or fourth day, picked one thing and tried to really do it properly. I was like, ‘I need to sit down and pursue something, and it needs to be good’.”
For someone who completed a winning entry within a week, he’s done rather well. The Noughts and Crosses planter will go from sketch to prototype in the next two weeks, then after some tweaking and refining, will become a finished product.
“We’ll keep Bradley involved in all the processes,” Shaw says, “We let him know today which elements we’re likely to change and refine, but the amount of work that Bradley did at the start means it was quite easy for us to do our bit.”
“There’s potential for lots of learning,” Mitchell adds. “Tom said earlier, ‘If you can’t have it, or don’t want it in your own house – you won’t want to take [the design] any further’, and I think that’s really great advice.”
"It's great that companies like Mercedes-Benz are pushing boundaries and getting involved in these sorts of competitions. It's really encouraging for local designers," says Mitchell.
So, once the planter is finished, will Mitchell buy one for his apartment?
“Of course! I’ll be the first customer,” he laughs.
“We might give you a special rate,” says Shaw.
This article is presented by Mercedes-Benz.