CSD CEP Design Student Prize profiles: University of Plymouth

This autumn, the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD) and its key members have been celebrating the next generation of CEP student designers through many online award ceremonies.

The CEP Student Prize is awarded yearly to a design student from each of the Society’s Course Endorsement Program‘s Accredited design courses. Students who have proven great work throughout their course are honoured with awards that recognise their talents and constant hard work.

We have already showcased talented students from Nottingham Trent University in our last blog, but this month we will put the spotlight on students from the University of Plymouth.

Design student winners at University of Plymouth spotlight

Across design education internationally, the CSD Course Endorsement Program formally recognises excellence in both design teaching and study. The programme was created to distinguish and support those courses that prepare and develop students to practice design to the highest professional standards.

This year a number of students from Plymouth were awarded CEP prizes including Elizabeth Chalmers Assoc. CSD and Oscar McNaughton Assoc.CSD for their work as a product designer and designer-maker respectively.

To learn more about their studies and passion for design, we spoke with both Elizabeth and Oscar.

Design Student spotlight: Elizabeth Chalmers Assoc. CSD

Tell us a little about your work.

My work has developed significantly over the years. With all my designs I look for opportunities to connect the user with the product more interestingly and excitingly. I have focused my work to look at how the digital world interacts with the physical world, more recently looking into interface design. In my final major project, I created a wall of hexagonal lights and an app that interacts with them. The app has been designed for use by teenagers to help educate and support them through emotional changes, each emotion has been allocated a colour on the app. For example, when a user goes into school, they scan their phone and one of the lights changes colour to reflect how they are feeling. This is a completely anonymous system but can aid in reducing feelings of isolation through non-verbal communication.

What inspired you to become a designer?

My inspiration to become a designer stems from my curiosity about how things are made and a desire to imagine how things could be made better. Through all my years at school, I have always had fantastic female design teachers (Jenny Street in particular) who have encouraged me to achieve again and again. Design has been one of the few things where I have been driven to become better and better, it has never felt like a chore to do.

What does being awarded the CEP Student Prize mean to you?

I feel honoured to have my work and personal development acknowledged in this way, being awarded the CEP Prize (of Associate Membership) was a turning point for me in seeing myself go from a student designer to a professional designer. Having my work recognised in any capacity is an achievement, however, it holds even more value to me to have been awarded this during such uncertain times. This award has shown me that despite any doubts I have in my abilities, I am capable and ready to enter the bigger design world. It has made me very proud to have my work and abilities recognised by the Chartered Society of Designers and by my fantastic tutors, Jamie Billing and Mike Woods.

What’s next for you? 

My next step in the short term is to continue at university and complete a master’s degree in design. This will enable me to further learn and hone my skills to create a clearer direction for where I want to be working in the future. Working for a design firm that is creating positive change for people through design is my ultimate end goal. I think that in the next few years there is going to be a push for design to help improve mental wellness, I want to be part of this movement. In the far future I want to recreate what my many amazing teachers have done for me and inspire the next generation of young designers to look for positive change in the world and help to make it happen.

Where can we find you?

You can find me via the CSD Find-a-Designer here.

You can also find me online via Instagram and my website.


Design Student spotlight: Oscar McNaughton Assoc.CSD

Tell us a little about your work.

My work as a designer-maker has varied greatly throughout my undergraduate process but culminated in a final project which brought together many elements of both my skills and my personality as a designer. My final project followed a process of scanning broken ceramic objects to be transformed and transfigured in a statement about repair. By replacing the broken portions with complex 3D printed cellular structures, the project challenges our perceptions about what it means to be damaged.

The pieces showed that an object can not only continue to be beautiful or interesting after it has been damaged but also shows how damage creates opportunity.  In this sense, the work considers not only the importance of repair, but the opportunities that going through a difficult or damaging period can have to improve something. In a physical sense, this applies to things that some people throw away, deeming them useless, but also translates to a more symbolic meaning in terms of emotional scars, character building, and the way that we can use periods of difficulty as an opportunity for development.

The process involved making 3D scans of broken objects and then using these scans as the base to create complex cellular structures. These structures are made using a custom algorithm that effectively ‘grows’ replacement forms. These new forms are based on a range of microscopic systems such as a bone callus which forms at the site of a bone break, or scar tissue or plant cell repair systems.

Some pieces also feature portions that have also been repaired using traditional Kintsugi. This process uses sap of the Chinese lacquer tree (Toxicodendron vernicifluum), to repair ceramic, to which a layer of fine powder, usually gold, is then added to highlight the repair.

The project was an incredible journey, and certainly something that I will continue to work with.

What inspired you to become a designer?

I have always been interested in design and particularly hands-on making. My parents and wider family are all creative people in their own way. I grew up watching my father working outside with his hands, creating incredible driftwood furniture. Whether I was having a go myself, passing tools, or merely just standing and watching, it was a major influence during my childhood. Though I have followed a different path, looking back I can now see that becoming a designer was inevitable. The University of Plymouth and several of my lecturers have done an incredible job of not only helping stoke a fire that was already there, and keeping my inspiration alive, but in showing the possibilities and potential that we have as designers, and the meaningful impact we can have if we work for it.

What does being awarded the CEP Student Prize mean to you?

Being awarded the CEP Student Prize for 3D Design: Designer-Maker at the University of Plymouth was a real honour, and I very much look forward to taking full advantage of all the amazing benefits that come with Associate membership of CSD.

What’s next for you? 

I will now be going on to study an MA Design at the University of Plymouth. As a core part of my studies, I will be undertaking an internship at Powderham Castle in Exeter, where I will be working with Kate Norley – a wonderful Heritage Theory and Practice student – on a 12-month live project which I am very much looking forward to.

Where can we find you?

You can find my portfolio via the CSD Find-a-Designer here, or find me on Instagram here. My website is

Are you a design student?

Individuals who have recently graduated, are in the early phases of their design career, or have the required equivalent competencies can apply to join CSD as Associate members. Learn more about CSD Associate membership here.

Similarly, if you’re keen to share your work, you can join our virtual show YES2021 and exhibit your final year project to your peers, the public and most importantly potential employers! Register as a student here.