A University of Bolton student has beaten the cream of the world’s best young designers to win the top award at the highly prestigious Surtex Designext Awards in New York.

She’s been featured on BBC’s North West Tonight this week as well as on ITV’s website and in regional press.

Twenty three-year-old Kera Allen from Moss Side in Manchester was presented with the winner’s prize of $1,000 at the Surtex Trade Show and will have letters of recommendation sent to prospective employers putting her on course to become a future top name in the design industry.

Now in its 30th year, Surtex is the global business-to-business marketplace for sourcing original art and design. Each year more than 5,000 buyers and manufacturers from around the world converge on New York to buy or license the newest designs and patterns from trend-setting artists.


Kera, a mum and second year textile design student at the University of Bolton, had already been thrilled to be the only UK representative selected to take part in the Grand Final in New York. She found herself up against two Americans, one of them from the famous Savannah College of Art and Design, and an Italian all with strong design backgrounds and was stunned when her work was declared the winner.

‘I was speechless,’ she said. ‘I just couldn’t believe it when they announced my name. I was just thrilled to have made it to New York but then to win the whole thing was beyond my wildest dreams.’

Student design competition, Designext, honours only exceptional surface design work by students. This year’s entrants were tasked with creating six original surface designs inspired by ‘Tribal in Art Deco’. These designs were applied to the surface of fashion wear by Kera and presented as a collection.

‘I’ve never designed for fashion before which is why I wanted to give it a try,’ said Kera, ‘I began to research the theme in books and researched upcoming trends.

‘I thought of my fashionable friends and what they would wear. I had one particular friend and I imagined what she would wear on a night out or on a summer’s day and the colours she liked.’


The delighted Programme Leader in Textile and Surface Design at the University, Donna Claypool said: ‘We were delighted to hear that Kera had not only been selected to be one of the four grand finalists, but astounded to hear that she was the only student from the UK! And now to actually win the Grand Prize against three outstanding competitors is truly amazing.’

Kera has one more year of study at the University of Bolton before hoping to graduate with a BA (hons) degree in Textiles and Surface Design.

She then plans to become a textile and surface designer, primarily for interiors such as homeware and unique, personalised, textile based orders.

The Vice Chancellor of the University Professor George E Holmes DL said: ‘We are incredibly proud of Kera. To win such a highly prestigious competition in New York against the very best young designers in the world is an incredible achievement. Her victory is a great boost for this University which prides itself on its high teaching standards and in providing opportunities for our hard working students.’


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