Etsy Design Awards winner Sian Zeng (photo credit: Veerle Evans)
The grand prize was awarded to Sian Zeng, London-based designer of whimsical interactive wallpapers which integrate decorative magnets into each design. Zeng encourages her wallpaper customers to, “play out their own fantasies by moving a cast of magnetic creatures and buildings across the wall, adding quotes and stories with our write-on speech bubbles.”
In her interview with Etsy, Zeng emphasizes that her designs are meant to inspire children and adults alike. “It’s a great way to have fun as a family, so it’s not just another dinosaur wallpaper,” says the maker. Zeng says she was “speechless” when she found out she won. “Winning the award means we are able to launch more collections this year. I’m really excited because I have so many more ideas I’d like to put onto wallpaper.” As the grand prize winner, Zeng will receive a cash prize of $15,000 USD.
Winning products from Etsy Design Award winners
Design Category Winners
Five winners were also selected from each of the design categories. In addition to a handcrafted trophy, the Etsy Design Awards winners in each category will receive a cash prize of $1,000 USD.
Justin Nelson of Fernweh Woodworking won the Inventive Decor prize for his leather sling chair. Nelson’s interest in craft emerged during his time in the Marine Corps, where he began making small tobacco pipes. He now works on a larger scale, fabricating wooden furniture from his studio in Bend, Oregon. “It’s an honor,” Nelson says of the award. “I was so impressed when Etsy announced the finalists, there were dozens of amazing pieces included. Really any of them could have won this award and would have deserved it.” Nelson says.
Molly Goodall took the Signature Style prize for her rainbow and butterfly coat, created for her children’s apparel company Little Goodall. Goodall holds a BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons the New School for Design, and each piece in her collection is made by hand in McKinney, Texas.
When asked about the impact of awards competitions for makers, Goodall shared her appreciation for an occasion to celebrate artists. “It really shines a spotlight on all the thoughtful design work being done and celebrates the influence of the industry on overall trends. Often innovative ideas begin in small ways, and the origins are lost by the time the trend hits the shelves of mainstream stores. The awards raise awareness about the work quietly being done by artists and craftspeople all over the world,” Goodall said.
“So much of our time as makers is spent marketing our work that a moment of appreciation for the joy of design is both refreshing and inspiring!” – Molly Goodall
Rainbow and Butterfly Coat from Etsy Design Awards winner Little Goodall
Honoring makers’ hard work
Alejandro and Sara Pijuán of Pijuán Design Workshop won in the Creative Collaborations category for their Custom mid-century dog house. Each custom dog house takes six to eight weeks to create, manufactured in Los Angeles by the creative husband and wife team (who are both working architects by day).
Asked about what the Etsies represent to makers, Alejandro shared his thoughts: “Industry leaders like Etsy provide small companies, such as ours, a platform to exhibit products and designs to a global network of like[minded] artists and creators.”
“By creating the Etsy Design Awards it brings to the forefront all of the hard work and countless hours many of our fellow artists put into their craft.” – Alejandro Pijuán, 2019 Etsies Winner
Intricate papercuts made by Etsy Design Awards winner Naomi Shiek
Magic in the details
For the category of Festive Celebrations, Naomi Shiek of Woodland Papercuts took the prize for her Wonders of Sea & Tree ketubah. She personalizes each intricate papercut wedding documents for every couple, infusing her pieces with symbolism and romance. Based in Tel Aviv, Shiek works full time as a papercut artist, creating unique pieces to celebrate special occasions. Via interview, Shiek expressed gratitude for the experience. “The questions in the application form helped me remember why I do the art I do in the way I do it. My answers helped me and my business before I ever knew I was chosen as a finalist. Getting chosen as the award recipient is a boost to my confidence as a creator,” Shiek shared.
The Earth Friendly prize was awarded to Vicky Moudilou and Stam Guinis of Eating The Goober, for their Ethical Magic Sliders, shoes made using upcycled motorcycle tires. Based in Athens, this design duo approaches sustainability with respect to humans, animals, and the environment. Their shoes are made by craftsmen that work in safe and fair conditions, fabricated out of recycled materials combined with eco-friendly new materials that contain no animal products.
Etsy Design Awards Honorable Mention Yeiou
Unique pieces caught the judges’ eyes
An expert panel of judges selected the Etsy Design Awards winners based on quality, creativity, utility and “wow” factor of the finalist entries. The judges also selected six finalists to award with honorable mentions, including Craft Industry Alliance member Abigail McMurray of Yeiou. According to Etsy’s winner announcement, McMurray’s custom house portraits are so memorable, the judges couldn’t stop thinking about them.
“In the short term, receiving an Honorable Mention means I had a bump in orders today. In the long term, I hope that it will be a credential that will help me grow my business,” says McMurray in an interview via email. She continues: “My house portraits are a newer product offering, so I’m still figuring out how to talk about them, and how they fit in with the mix of my other work. I see my recognition as part of this contest as a chance to figure that all out really quickly!”
“Even if the only thing I gained from entering the Etsies was figuring out how to answer questions like “Why does your product deserve to win this contest?” (which was on the application form), that line of inquiry has value and helps me show up well in the world.” – Abigail McMurray
Erin is the textile designer and artist behind the home décor company, Cotton & Flax. She licenses her surface designs for fabric, home décor, stationery, and other clients. She’s also a teacher, writer, and enthusiastic advocate for small creative business owners. She lives in San Diego, California.