In conversation with Hallmark

We are delighted to be welcoming back Hallmark to New Designers this year to sponsor Awards in both Week 1 and Week 2. In this exclusive interview, we asked Eve Gray, Creative Development Director at Hallmark a few questions about their award winners last year and what it takes to leave a lasting impression with Hallmark’s judges.

We’re so excited to welcome back Hallmark who will once again be sponsoring an award in both Week 1 and 2 of New Designers. Could you tell us a little bit about last year’s award and your winner?

‘We actually sponsor 2 awards, one for each week and we look for people who can bring innovative, future-thinking, and sustainable ideas to our greeting’s category. We look at all design disciplines to find our connections. 

I would be delighted to tell you about our 2022 winners: 

Our Week 1 winner was Sandra Junele a Textile Design Graduate from DJCAD. Sandra’s work is a clever, resourceful substrate made from recycled thread and organic glue that can be made at different densities & opacities. When placed back in water the glue dissolves and the threads can be re-worked again. We loved her considered, resourceful and sustainable approach.  

Our Week 2 winner was Reuben Loftus a Product Design Graduate from Kingston University. Reuben’s work resonated with us on a deeply emotional level. His poetic combination of place, time and process of making, beautifully examined emotions associated with grief through object, words and film. A profound and special project.’


What projects did the winners work on during their internships and what skills/knowledge did they develop?

We asked both winners to work on a project that made the most of their own personal voice and skill set. It is important for us to listen and hear those voices rather than expect people to be like us… they need to be themselves. Our projects are more about relationships and connection than designing cards. Sandra worked with us on a substrate that incorporated some of our waste paper and Reuben’s work examined how and what we say to people through cards. Skills: Research, planning, collaboration, creative concepting, forming opinions and intent 

Tell us about Hallmark’s award this year and what you’re looking for in your award winner…

‘Hallmark Connection Award: Working as part of our future-thinking ideation squad on a research and development project and will be mentored and coached by our in-house design team.

We are looking for something that excites us, something unexpected and something that connects with us as a business, connects with us emotionally and connects with us as people

Exciting concepts and ideas that demonstrate inventive and clever ways to explore emotional connection.

This year’s winners will be working on individually focused projects.’

When Hallmark hires designers, what are the standout qualities you look for in new team members? 

‘Curiosity, creative thinking, playfulness, willingness to learn, be open to collaboration and exchange of ideas and try to take risks along the way, wherever you can. Someone who challenges the norms, who understands the needs of who they are designing for and ideally who uses their skills to address some if the future issues that face humanity and the planet

A conceptual thinker – explores possibilities and makes consumer connections through product and/or design.’

What’s the best thing about working for Hallmark’s design team?

‘Being part of a creative team of clever, kind, inspirational and aspirational people.’

What is your advice to the next generation of designers? 

‘Be adventurous, be yourself, lead don’t follow, be confident in your own abilities and don’t give up you will find your opportunity. 

Be open to all opportunities sometimes the best direction starts with taking multiple routes! 

Be yourself, take risks.’

Hallmark blog post

See the full ND23 Awards Programme below to learn more.