Melbourne designer Bradley Mitchell is one of the three rising Australian designers shortlisted for the Mercedes-Benz Design Award, with his design for Noughts and Crosses – a playful planter range that encourages a kitchen garden of herbs, spices, fragrance and colour in a large or limited space.

The Mercedes-Benz Design Award called for an innovative Australian design that adds value to the kitchen or dining experience, with the winning design to be produced and taken to retail within the product range of progressive Australian furniture maker Jardan.

Mitchell's design was one of three selected from over 120 entries by the judging panel of representatives from Jardan, Broadsheet and Mercedes-Benz. According to Jardan head designer Tom Shaw and owner Nick Garnham, Mitchell’s piece was selected for its striking design and combination of Victorian ash and rolled brass or steel.

“It really fits the brief for its originality and it’s quite a bold design,” Shaw says. “It’s playful, there’s an element of fun there, and the materiality, the use of timber and metal, adds a really nice contrast.”

Broadsheet spoke to Mitchell to see how he turned a childhood game into modern Australian design.

Broadsheet: Tell us about your background.
Bradley Mitchell: I grew up in Sydney and studied interior architecture at UNSW. Once I finished I decided I wanted to do architecture as well, so I moved to Melbourne and studied at RMIT. This year I’m taking a year off and working at Techne Architects.

BS: Has designing always been a passion?
BM: I kind of had my eyes set on it from a young age, even though none of my family is involved in any form of design. I always had an interest in gardening when I was little, so I thought landscape architecture was something I could be interested in and it developed into something bigger from there.

BS: Tell us about the creation of Noughts and Crosses.
BM: My design was very process-driven. I was playing with a few forms and the Noughts and Crosses idea was born from that. I wanted something that could kind of be put together, two forms that would work alongside one another.

BS: The design obviously has an environmental element to it. Is that important for you?
BM: I place a really strong importance on the connection with landscape and nature in my work. It definitely drives a lot of my process. I live in an apartment and I guess through my design I’m trying to get some kind of connection back to the garden I had growing up as a little kid. We’re moving towards more apartment-style living, so I wanted to be able to give people a chance to bring that garden element into their own home.

BS: What would it mean for you to win this award?
BM: I definitely think this is an amazing opportunity to launch a career and work with the amazing designers at Jardan. I think it would be a great springboard into the industry. It would be incredible to have my piece manufactured by them.

BS: Do you think it’s important to recognise emerging Australian designers?
BM: It’s quite difficult for emerging designers here because we don’t have a lot of manufacturing in Australia. It’s super hard to get noticed, so it’s amazing that [Mercedes-Benz and Jardan] are providing this opportunity to up-and-coming designers.

BS: What does Australian design mean to you?
BM: I think Australian design is still in its infancy. When I think of great design I think of countries like Denmark and Germany, countries that have a really established history. I think Australia’s just at the beginning, which is really exciting. I think the world is just starting to discover what we can do here.

Meet our other two finalists, Joshua McKean and Bianca Isgro.

The winner of the Mercedes-Benz Design Award presented by Broadsheet and Jardan will be announced at a ceremony in Melbourne on Thursday September 17.