Main Website
centre of excellence 2024

Centre of excellence 2023 winners

The third annual Curtis Centre of Excellence Prize, which invited students to design innovative and sustainable packaging solutions, was held this year in partnership with East Surrey College. The Level 3 Creative Practice students of the college were given a unique opportunity to showcase their talents and gain invaluable real-world experience in packaging design.

Steve Mallett at East Surrey College during early stages of the competition

The competition commenced on 9th January 2023, with the final digital submission deadline set for Friday 17th February 2023. All submissions were judged on their constructional and graphical elements, and three winners were selected to receive the coveted Curtis Centre of Excellence prizes – Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

Steve Mallett, Sales Director of Curtis Packaging, visited Creative Practice: Art, Design & Communication Level 3 students to present the awards for the best work submitted. The students were tasked with designing packaging solutions for two industry briefs, with a focus on eco-friendliness and sustainability.

The quality of the work submitted by the students amazed the judges, with Steve Mallett commending their efforts. He said, "We were really impressed by the quality of the work – you should all be very proud of yourselves."

Niko Larkin presented with Gold award by Steve Mallett of Curtis Packaging

The Gold award went to Nico Larkin, whose design was centred around Christmas gift ideas. Nico's design demonstrated a creative, thought-out strategy for the construction of the packaging. An eco-friendly approach was also taken into account, with careful consideration given to the safe transit of the packaging from business to consumer. The design also included a clever package insert and intricate print finishes.

Evie Edwards and Charlotte Ashton

Evie Edwards won the Silver award with a design that showcased creative artwork and a unique surprise element that would excite the gift recipient. The packaging solution was constructed entirely of FBB (folding box board) technique and was deemed suitable for production.

Johnlee King and Steve Mallett

The Bronze award was shared between by Charlotte Ashton and Johnlee King, whose designs incorporated sustainable materials , incredible hand draw graphics . The ideas demonstrated a considered use of graphics and colours. Curtis Packaging is proud to have played a role in fostering young talent in the industry and congratulates all the winners on their impressive achievements. Curtis have agreed to run this project for future years for the foreseeable future.

2023 Gallery

All the original details of the 2023 competition can be found below. 


Curtis packaging is one of the UK's leading companies providing high quality printed folding boxboard packaging specialising in the retail, beauty & luxury market sectors. “Finishing touches - The Collection”, our innovative sample pack and "The Ultimate Foiling Guide" which demonstrate many of the finishes & added features that top brands look for has received immense feedback from Design Agencies, Brand owners & visitors to the Packaging Innovations exhibitions. This has encouraged us to evolve this into an opportunity to help students that are working towards a position within the exciting market we work in. Click here to go to the Design Tools section for more information about the packs We are offering three financial prizes:
  • Bronze £100
  • Silver £250
  • Gold £350


The beauty industry is worth £81 Billion with the packaging market amounting to £41 Billion. The environment and sustainability are of vital importance to nearly every beauty brand Curtis packaging works with. We are strong advocates for investing in the future and what better place to start than embarking on a search to find the next graphic designer the luxury beauty brands are fighting over The options for consideration for designing your proposal are either :
  • The launch of a new “Hero” product for either a Male or Female skincare range
  • A Duo  Christmas gift set that will hold two of your favourite  products
    from your chosen beauty brand.
There are two elements to this brief. The constructional side and the graphic element, we will be judging on the impact of graphics , ease of assembly and successful transit to store.


We believe in investing in the future but we are equally vested in making sure that packaging is environmentally friendly.

We want to find the next graphic designer who can embrace all the challenges the beauty industry faces in presenting glamourous, tactile and visually tempting cartons for their products or the construction designer that blows away the team with their innovative designs - all the while keeping to high environmental standards and minimising the impact of the industry on the planet.

We are offering three Curtis Centre of Excellence prizes

  • Gold £350
  • Silver £250
  • Bronze £100

Along with their cheque the winners will have the chance to see behind the scenes of the countless disciplines behind the production of a printed carton with a tour of our manufacturing facilities. You will also get to meet the panel of judges that chose your submission to beat the competition.



Project start date is Monday 9th Jan 2023. 

The UAL formatted project brief is available to download here.

Practical Studio deadline will be for Friday 10th Feb for both groups.
This deadline is roughly 5 weeks to get all studio work completed.  

Completed designs and artwork will need to be uploaded onto this website from 10th February 2023 with a final digital submission deadline set for Friday 17th Feb 2023 (half term week).

No entries can be accepted after this date


Finishing Touches - The collection

This pack demonstrates many of the finishes & added features that top brands look for when designing a carton. The pack shows the pros and cons of different finishes, textures and coatings that can enhance the shelf appeal of the product aginst a measure of their:

  • Durability
  • Premium quality
  • Price
  • Transit
  • Wow Factor
  • Environmental impact

The Ultimate Foiling Guide

This pack demonstrates with real examples what can be achieved using different foils to enhance the look and feel of a carton.

Design Considerations Brochure

This pack explains the design considerations for better recyclability of printed cartons

Samples of the packs have been supplied to the college but if you require further samples please contact:

BillerudKorsnäs Presentation

Download here. 

Fedrigoni Presentation

Download here.