Stephanie Leake



United Kingdom
I would say take every opportunity you can, as the University offers a lot, design wise, collaborative projects but also the sports and societies.

More about Stephanie

Winner: The Wood Awards Bespoke Category 2016

Placement company: Jack Badger Ltd

How did you spend your placement year?

“I spent my placement with Jack Badger Ltd who are an award winning company of traditional carpenters and masons. I found myself doing all sorts, from using machines and hand tools in the workshop, design work on the computer, working collaboratively with architects and photographers, and most importantly brewing up! There really was never a dull day there.

“The highlight of my year in industry was the Pantori (a freestanding pantry larder). I was tasked with designing something to enter the Wood Awards Competition with and it turned into a pantry for a client in London. I had to re-design it several times, as things constantly changed, especially when working alongside architects and with the client who was setting up a pop up eatery in Old Street tube station. It was incredibly stressful but I learnt loads, design wise, making wise and also organising and working with people. Witnessing something that I’ve designed, actually being made and then delivering it to the client, is one of the most satisfying experiences.

Tell us about your Wood Awards win

"We had hoped to be shortlisted for the student design category but it was shortlisted in the bespoke category, which for me, was incredibly exciting as it meant I would be going up against industry professionals. This then required transporting the Pantori to 100% Design as part of London Design Festival, where it would be judged. A couple of months later, we were invited down for the Awards ceremony in London at Carpenters’ Hall, where we celebrated winning the bespoke category of the Wood Awards 2016!

"I don’t think it’s possible to have had a better year. Not only making new links with people in industry but making really good friends also. Winning the Wood Awards Bespoke category was simply the cherry on top.

What have you enjoyed most about your course at NTU?

“During my second year of studies we went to Porto which was a great experience. We got an insight into an Ikea factory and Caetano coach building factory which was probably the most interesting part for me, as a surprising amount of the manufacturing of the coaches is done by hand! We also went to Clerkenwell design week in second year, which was really interesting in terms of seeing a lot of British design and basically being able to talk to designers and makers about their work and how they got there etc. It was incredibly inspiring, as only a few years ago, many of them were in the same position as me.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

“100% you must take the extra year to do placement. Nothing will or can prepare you better for going into your chosen career, than actually working for a company in the industry for a year. Also, I would say take every opportunity you can, as the University offers a lot, design wise, collaborative projects but also the sports and societies. Especially in first year, just throw yourself into everything that interests you. As you’ll be surprised at how much the experiences will better you, as a designer but also as a person."

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