For the past three years, Mercedes-Benz and Broadsheet have partnered to support and celebrate the best of Australian design with the Mercedes-Benz Design Award. In 2018, the award will again provide a platform to nurture the next generation of local design talent.

Last year’s edition of the award focused on improving the dining experience; finding ways to transform the way we share a meal with friends and family, indoors or out. Sydney designer Tom Fereday was selected from a highly competitive field as the winner for his elegant SIA chair: a slim, solid ash-timber and stainless-steel composition with an articulating backrest.

This year the award seeks to marry design excellence with the most urgent design issue of our time: sustainability. Mercedes-Benz encourages the creation of a sustainably-minded new product for the lounge space, which will be sold and manufactured by Cult Design.

The winner of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz Design Award will also receive an intensive mentorship program from a panel of judges who will help to bring the winning design to market. These include André Dutkowski, senior product manager at Mercedes-Benz Cars; Katya Wachtel, editorial director of Broadsheet; Tom Fereday, winner of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz Design Award; Adele Winteridge, founding director of Foolscap Studio; and Richard Munao, the owner of Cult Design who will guide the winner’s blueprint through the manufacturing process to be championed in Cult’s stores. The winner will also have the opportunity to drive a Mercedes-Benz vehicle for an extended loan.

The award’s pivot to sustainability in 2018 aligns with the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy, which has helped set the standard for car design for more than 130 years. Mercedes-Benz continues to pursue strategies to reduce the ecological impact of its vehicles, including minimising fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, and examining the impact of materials and the way they wear over a car’s lifetime.

Dutkowski says the design philosophy pursued by Mercedes-Benz is known as “sensual purity”. “It’s a combination of technology and function, without sacrificing beauty and what we call ‘modern luxury’,” he says. “It’s also about being ahead of its time.”

By providing a showcase for the highest standards of design, Dutkowski says the Mercedes-Benz Design Award is helping advance Australia’s culture of design. “We want to empower designers and give them a platform,” he says of the award’s mission. “I think we can help prepare Australian design talent for the global market.”

In last year’s edition of the Mercedes-Benz Design Award, Tom Fereday’s imaginative, understated design won him the opportunity to have his SIA chair manufactured and sold by industry-leading retailer Cult Design under the guidance of the company’s founder and director, Munao. Broadsheet and Mercedes-Benz also sent Fereday to Stuttgart, where he visited the Mercedes-Benz Museum, an architectural marvel housing 160 vehicles and exhibits representing 130 years of design innovation.

Fereday was also mentored by a quartet of design experts – Mercedes-Benz’s Dutkowski, interior designer George Livissianis, and industrial designer Adam Goodrum (whose work is also sold under Cult’s NAU collective), alongside Cult’s Munao.

While the prize of having his work transformed from idea to tactile product was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Fereday says it was the mentorship he found most valuable. “The opportunity to actually dissect and ask questions is really interesting,” Fereday told Broadsheet. “I think for me that’s the highlight of the whole award: being mentored by these leaders in the industry.”

Open to designers of all experience levels and from all backgrounds, the Mercedes-Benz Design Award is an unrivalled opportunity to launch a career. Entries are now open.

This article was produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Mercedes-Benz.