Design duo scoop top prizes in national competition

"It was great meeting the judges and getting their advice. I've made some good contacts which will be really useful in the future."

Christopher Karam, BA (Hons) Transport Design

Students from Staffordshire University cleared the deck at a national yacht design competition this month – scooping both top spots.

Christopher Karam, studying Transport Design, was named winner of the 2017 Superyacht UK Young Designer Competition and course mate Michael Hollier was runner up, with both winning placements at top shipyards.

Christopher, who is 24 and originally from Lebanon, is completing his degree at Staffordshire University after studying for two years in Turin.

He was encouraged to enter the competition by lecturer Dan Lewis and was one of nine finalists tasked with creating a unique 90-100m superyacht design in just 36 hours, before presenting their work to a panel of industry judges at the London Boat Show.

“The UK is a great place for automotive design and Staffordshire has a great reputation so that's why I wanted to study here.” Christopher explained.

“I've never designed a yacht before but I was quietly confident in my design skills. I wanted to create something a bit different without making it too complicated.”

Impressed by his innovative style the judges awarded Christopher first place and a design internship at Pendennis Shipyard in Falmouth, which is world-renowned for producing custom built boats and yachts.

“It was great meeting the judges and getting their advice. I've made some good contacts which will be really useful in the future.”

Christopher added: “I'm really looking forward to working at Pendennis alongside professional designers and learning more about the industry.”

Judge Peter Brown, Chairman of Superyacht UK, said: “Christopher's design was fantastic and he really used some classic lines with a creative flair. I feel sure any client that he drew for would be truly impressed with his talent.”

Michael Hollier, 20 from Dunbar in Scotland, is also in his final year studying Transport Design and was named runner up for his design inspired by sea creatures including sharks and manta rays.

He said: “There are only a few Transport Design courses in the UK and as soon as I visited Staffs I knew I wanted to come here because the lecturers were so enthusiastic and helpful – and that has continued right through the course.

“It's thanks to my lecturer Dan's support that I even applied for the competition. It was daunting because I don't have much experience designing boats but I saw this a great opportunity to stretch myself.”

As part of the prize, Michael has won a week-long placement with Olesinski Naval Architects on the Isle of Wight.

“Having the opportunity to network with industry professionals has really boosted my confidence.” He explained.

“I didn't expect to win, I was shaking when they announced my name! The work placement is massive for me and the experience will definitely help when I graduate.”

The pair were presented with their awards by Tracey Crouch MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage during the London Boat Show.

Dan Lewis, course leader for Product and Transport Design, added: “We're really proud of Chris and Michael, they both produced great designs on the day.”

“I think it's really important to encourage students to make the most of additional opportunities like this while they're at university. Building up a diverse body of work enhances their portfolios and ultimately improves job prospects.”

Find out more about studying Product and Transport Design at Staffordshire University here.


Amy Platts
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