Pottery made from bacteria wins top prize in MullenLowe Nova Awards

People’s Choice Award goes to experimental mask exploring the relationship between our online personas and offline selves.

Nova Awards: winning project BacTerra aims to use bacteria to reduce environmental impact of pottery
Nova Awards: winning project BacTerra aims to use bacteria to reduce environmental impact of pottery

BacTerra, a project created by material futures student Nikoleta Chrysikou that aims to address the carbon-heavy process of firing ceramics by making use of bacteria, has won the top prize in MullenLowe’s Nova Awards.

In its 10th year, the awards celebrate the best ideas from graduating students across multiple disciplines at London’s Central Saint Martins. 

From a shortlist of 14, six entries have been recognised by the judges, chaired by MullenLowe creative chief Jose Miguel Sokoloff.

There are two runners up, and three special awards, including the YourNOVA People’s Choice Award, chosen by a public vote – which went to graphic communication design student Jann Choy for Liǎn (脸), an experimental silicon mask that responds to the wearer’s realtime emotions using code and soft robotics.

Speaking to Campaign last month, Sokoloff commented: There's a trend this year that instead of looking for answers, the students are using different elements of creativity... to make us question the way we live.” 

As the overall winner, Chrysikou will receive a cash prize enabling her to further continue her practice. 

She said: “The prize money will enable me to scale up my project from a home-based workshop to a bigger workshop, and it will give me the opportunity to research the project more, to develop and optimise the material and method. Hopefully, it will start a conversation with other makers and industries about how we can collectively reimagine the future of ceramics and traditional crafts.” 

Sokoloff commented: “Not only did the winning projects challenge the judges to view creativity through a different lens, but the work was bulletproof. It was relevant, tested and in most cases, can be put into production tomorrow with infinite practical uses. 

“I’m continually amazed at how connected the students are to the world around us and how they’re engaging and reacting with purpose, and this year was no exception. A lot of the work this year delved into the issues humanity is facing – from waste and recyclability to period poverty and mental health – and the students asked some very interesting questions and offered clear, tangible and innovative solutions to problems that touch every one of us.”

The full list of winners

Nova Award Winner
Nikoleta Chrysikou, MA Material Futures, "BacTerra" 

Nova Award Runners Up
Alice Turner, BA Product Design, "Carnerie"
Lydia Hardcastle, BA Performance: Design and Practice, "FEN (Growing Garments)"

Unilever #Unstereotype Award
Cheuk Laam Wong, BA Product Design, "Looop Can"

Creative Boom Conscious Award
Francesca Dalosio, MA Industrial Design, "Ulïètu"

YourNova People’s Choice Award
Jann Choy, BA Graphic Communication Design, "Liǎn"

Read about all 14 ideas on the shortlist here