Meet Design Guild Mark Founder Jonathan Hindle

Each designer awarded a Design Guild Mark for a piece of their work can be confident that they have created a design which demonstrates design excellence.  The Design Guild Mark judging process is rigorous, involving a carefully selected panel of industry leading design professionals. 

Following the announcement of this years winners, we we’re honored to have the opportunity to speak with Design Guild Mark Founder, Jonathan Hindle, to learn more about the prestigious awards.

Design Guild Mark.  An award for excellence in British design

Please could you introduce yourself and your role in the Design Guild Mark?

Originally trained as an architect/designer before moving into sales and marketing in office furniture and property, I am currently Group Managing Director and President of KI in E.M.E.A. I have been with KI for over 25 years, developing its UK, European, Middle Eastern and African operations. I was Master of The Furniture Makers Company, the furnishing industry’s charity and livery company from 2013-14. After much discussion I founded the Design Guild Mark and the first awards were held in 2007. For several years I chaired the meetings and was Chairman of the Judges. I also founded the Corporate Membership at the Livery. Currently, I am the Chairman of the British Furniture Confederation (BFC), the single voice of the furniture, furnishing, and bed industries to the Government.

What inspired you to launch the Design Guild Mark during your time as the Master of the Furniture Makers Company?

About 15 years ago there was a need to raise the profile of British design and innovation. There were many awards one could enter but none of them specifically gave recognition to British designers of furniture in volume production. The Design Guild Mark was set up with the aim to drive excellence and raise the profile of British design and innovation. In the UK we were training many good designers, a lot of whom ended up designing products for overseas Countries. Most of the awards judged products from images whereas we felt that furniture needed to be inspected from all angles, sat upon to test the comfort, even stood upon to gauge their strength. With the help of Cherrill Scheer and other Liveryman such as Sheridan Coakley, we gradually pulled together our thoughts and ran them past Sir John Sorrell and the late Sir Terence Conran. Both saw the unique value in the Design Guild Mark for recognising British Designers and International designers working in Britain. The designers would then be invited to come and present the products, very succinctly, to a panel of eminent judges.

Barry Jenkins, Ocee International

In what ways has the DGM achieved your original ambition?

It has surpassed our original ambition as it is now held up as an important award for designers to acquire. Having set the award up in the name of the Furniture Makers Company for furniture, I did not envisage it extending to all types of furnishings including textiles, wall coverings, surfaces, carpets, and floor coverings and now even to lighting – by popular demand.

Renowned experts in their own respective fields have been delighted to judge, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the process. They are selected from academia, product designers, interior designers, and specifiers as well as the Retail industry.

It has also been confirmed by Design Guild Mark holders that part of the reason for applying is the prestige and international recognition associated with it, as well as the great press and social media coverage within the design world. It is encouraging to see more British manufacturing firms engaging with British design studios as they better understand the value design brings.

Can you tell me what the Jonathan Hindle Prize is and why it is important to designers to be recognised by this prize?

The Design Guild Mark is a standard, not a competition between entrants. Those who received it have achieved that high standard of excellence. I decided to give an award to the best or perhaps most innovative or stand out design in each category. I do not judge this award but rely on the Design Guild Mark Judges to choose the best products to receive this cash prize.

Jones & Partners, The Collective Agency

What does the future hold for the DGM and the JHP?

There appears, despite the pandemic, to still be a great enthusiasm to receive a Design Guild Mark and even more a Jonathan Hindle prize. Examples of some of this year’s comments are below:

“I was genuinely surprised to win the JH prize and honoured to receive it. It means a lot to me as it recognises the unique response to a challenging brief, simply executed.  It is a great honour.” – Barry Jenkins

“The whole Jones & Partners Studio are very honoured to receive the JH Award. The recognition fuels our team with confidence that we continue to make good choices in our development and innovation. It caps off a remarkably productive year for the Studio, with eight high quality product designs being launched at Clerkenwell Design Week. We’d like to thank The Collective for their ambition and the judges for their consideration.”  – Jones & Partners

“We are very happy to be awarded the Jonathan Hindle prize for the Hotaru collection. We are pleased that hand crafted production is recognised in the furniture industry.” – Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby

Barber & Osberby, Hotaru

Design Guild Mark.  An award for excellence in British design.
The prestigious Design Guild Mark is awarded by The Furniture Makers’ Company in order to drive excellence and raise the profile of British design and innovation. 


About Phoebe Train

Phoebe is a Marketing and Events Executive, who joined the BCFA as an English graduate in 2021. Working closely with designers and BCFA members, Phoebe has published an array of content for Design Insider.
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