British designer Mac Collins is the winner of the Design Museum’s inaugural Ralph Saltzman Prize, an annual award for emerging designers. As part of the prize, Collins will be awarded a £5,000 bursary, and will show his work at a solo exhibition at the Design Museum, from 2 February until 2 April 2022. 

The Design Museum’s Ralph Saltzman Prize

Two chairs and a side table by Mac Collins
‘Ikva’ chairs for Benchmark. Photography: David Cleveland

‘I created The Ralph Saltzman Prize as a legacy to my father,’ says Lisa Saltzman. Ralph Saltzman was the co-founder and chairman of Designtex, and through his company, he championed many innovations in design and sustainability. ‘The Prize will be a way to give young designers an opportunity, an honorarium and a show,’ she continues. ’Mac is a worthy winner. In addition to the aesthetic quality, Mac brings personal narratives into his work and considers his practice as an exploration of his identity within the African Diaspora, and that is interesting.’

The work of Mac Collins

Collins was nominated by designers Kim Colin and Sam Hecht of Industrial Facility, and was chosen by a jury chaired by Justin McGuirk, chief curator at the Design Museum. Collins’ work was selected for the personal approach to his designs, and for his ability, McGuirk notes, to ‘break away from paradigms and introduce clean decisions: there is something quite strong in his processes as a designer’.

Collins graduated from Northumbria University, Newcastle, in 2018. Through his work, he explores personal and cultural narratives, in particular his own identity and Caribbean heritage.

Wooden chair and stool by Mac Collins
‘Concur’, a chair and stool designed by Collins and manufactured by Benchmark for Discovered, an initiative by Wallpaper* and AHEC

Collins’ graduate project, the ‘Iklwa’ chair, was acquired by Benchmark and produced by the British brand as a collection that includes two chairs and a table. Collins was also part of Discovered, an initiative from Wallpaper* and AHEC, supporting the work of emerging designers through mentorship, the manufacturing of their design, and an exhibition at the Design Museum. In September 2021, Collins was awarded the Emerging Design Medal during London Design Festival.

‘It is an honour to receive the inaugural Ralph Saltzman Prize at the Design Museum,’ says Collins. ‘The bursary provides a degree of financial, and thus creative, freedom to communicate a current narrative through a new collection of works. This accolade also provides a physical platform to present work within an institution that carries considerable weight.’ §