Wales’ best take on Europe at the 2008 DME Awards 

Four Welsh companies will be battling it out against 40 of their European counterparts at this year’s Design Management Europe Awards (DME), which is being organized by the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC) at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, on 13 October.

Fruit smoothie specialist, SoBor (Carmarthenshire), Thrislington Cubicles (Queensferry), Performance Health Products (Pontyclun) and Nightingale Care Beds (Wrexham) have been shortlisted from 200 for the award, positioning themselves at the forefront of design management in Europe.

They will be facing tough competition from companies such as Virgin Atlantic, TNT Post, Rocca group and the NHS who are also in the running to scoop an award.

Hosted for the first time in the UK, the 2008 DME awards will be held at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, with the First Minister, Right Honourable Rhodri Morgan AM opening the proceedings and head of innovation policy at the European Commission, Reinhard Buscher, as guest speaker.

The awards recognise businesses that use design to achieve commercial success. There have been over 200 entries from 22 different European countries for the awards resulting in 39 private and public organisations being shortlisted.

Each company has been selected from an international jury of design management and business experts, and were asked to demonstrate leadership in design innovation, driving change through design, design co-ordination and strategic performance.

Darragh Murphy, 2008 DME Awards co-ordinator, said “It is great to have four Welsh companies shortlisted for an award. We have had an extremely high calibre of entrants this year and to make the shortlist is a great achievement.

“Design is a critical factor for commercial success. It is not just about creating something pretty that looks good. Good design makes good business sense and can make a real difference to the bottom line.
“The Welsh four have strong competition on their hands but stand a good chance as they all demonstrate, vision, significant change and improved performance.”

In 2005, the Design Council produced the Design Index chart, plotting the share prices of a group of more than 150 quoted companies recognised as effective users of design over a ten year period. The Design Index companies out-performed the stock market by 200 per cent between 1994 and 2003. Since then, the Design Index has grown by 43 per cent and the Emerging Index has risen by 74.3 per cent, compared to 26.2 per cent growth for the FTSE 100 Index 

The awards are split into seven different categories, micro, small, medium, large, not for profit, design strategy for sustainability and best management for a first time project. SoBor, Performance Health Products and Nightingale Care Beds will be going head to head in the small business category and Thrislington cubicles will be fighting it out in the medium business categories.

The DME Awards are the cornerstone this year’s Cardiff Design Festival which is a month- long celebration of the best design in Wales.
Olwen Moseley, director of Cardiff Design Festival, said. “The DME Awards really are the pinnacle of a packed programme of events that seek to celebrate the very best of design in Wales, and we’re very exciting to be hosting them as part of this year’s festival.

“Every year, the Festival gets bigger and better. We really have some of the best design in the world coming from Wales and it’s about time we shouted about it.  As a relatively small nation, we punch above our weight.” 

Box Off – Welsh Companies Shortlisted for the DME Awards:


Category: Award for the best management of a first time design project

 Founded by Rhodri Davies, Sobor is a start-up company which manufactures and packages fruit smoothies for the bar and club market. Its a new concept smoothie that you can drink alone or mix with alcohol.

SoBor has used design as a strategic branding tool, creating a strong and powerful identity for the products which reflects its brand values indulgent, healthy, natural, delicious, sophisticated, versatile.

Performance Health Products (PHP)

Category: Best management of design in a small company

Performance Health Products (PHP) manufactures equipment for the disabled, the elderly and infirm with a special emphasis for wheelchair users. The company was formed in 1996 and by 2007 it was supplying 22 countries. PHP is concerned with improving comfort, function and quality of life by the comprehensive management of posture in seating. It has a unique approach to design and take into account the end user needs and, as a result, achieve great customer satisfaction.

PHP has been shortlisted for an award due to its use of design as a strategy to develop products that demonstrate outstanding performance in terms of reliability, efficiency, and functionality. It manages the creative design process thoroughly and integrates it into their management systems.

Thrislington Cubicles:

Category: Best management of design in a medium company

Thrislington Cubicles is a toilet cubicle manufacturer with a passion for design. Thrislington pays particular attention to detail from products to company literature to website and promotional materials. Thrislington has achieved worldwide recognition for premium quality.  Its products are thoroughly tested and any weak areas are replaced by improved systems. Its products are used high quality buildings, specified by world - leading architects.

Nightingale Care Beds:

Category: Award for the best management of design in a small company:

Incorporated in 1993, Nightingale Care Beds is now a leading manufacturer of hospital beds. When Nigel Quinn took over the company in 2001 it was struggling in a competitive market with a product that was not up to date and not compliant with regulations.

Quinn’s recovery strategy was based on the development and launch of a new product. He raised emergency finance from directors and investors with a promise to deliver a new product and open new opportunities for the company. The resulting product was the ProAxis electric profiling hospital bed. The ProAxis was designed and developed by Nightingale following intensive research into the needs of both bariatric patients and those at risk of acquiring pressure ulcers. The design of the Pro Axis has turned the company around from a failing company to a highly successful one. It is currently Nightingale’s core product but it is looking to incorporate the design into other products for bariatric patients.

The Cardiff Design Festival is organised by UWIC’s Cardiff School of Art & Design in collaboration with partners from the creative industries and several other public and private organisations in Wales.