The Future of the Design Industry: MEET THE 2016 designext FINALISTS - Surtex

On the Surface

The Future of the Design Industry: MEET THE 2016 designext FINALISTS

Four student artists, all women, three from the US, one from the UK, have walked off with top honors in the annual SURTEX designext student design competition.

Named by a stellar panel of judges, each an esteemed professional in the design business, the 2016designext finalists are:

  • Kera Allen, a second-year student (textile and surface pattern design) at the University of Bolton, Manchester, England;
  • Carolina Perrino, a senior in the fibers program at the Savannah College of Art;
  • Mirta Rotondo, a fourth-year student (illustration) at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco;
  • Anne Tsaprazis, a fiber design major at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

Each of the finalists was riffing off the theme, “Tribal in Art Deco,” the highly stylized design style of the 1920s and 30s that has made a strong comeback today. For the competition, “Tribal” patterns were defined as bold and sometimes intricate, repeated patterns in various colors.

Student designers were challenged to create six original surface designs to be used as a collection in four categories: 1. Wear (apparel and personal accessories); 2. Work (furniture, upholstery, wallcoverings for retail/office, hotel, and home office applications); 3. Live (indoor/outdoor home products); 4. Play (paper products, journals, crafting).

Getting to Know You:



Kera Allen, a 23-year-old student and mother, aspires to become a textile and surface designer, primarily for interiors. Her ultimate goal, Kera says, is “to create a small self-sufficient business designing unique textile pieces (interior and gift based) and tableware and other home items.”

Carolina Perrino, a native of Cincinnati, OH, says she “begins every design with a painting then translates the work digitally into a design to share with the world.” After graduating, she hopes to work for an apparel company, creating prints on a regular basis, and being a part of a “fast-paced, creative environment.”


Mirta Rotondo, who was born and grew up in Rome, Italy, founded her first advertising agency at the age of l8. That early experience as an entrepreneur and freelancer, plus her “continuous involvement in technology,” led her to a career as a web and graphic designer who has been featured in magazines and press, both in Italy and internationally.


Moving to San Francisco, where she’s about to graduate with a BFA, Mirta says she’s “again testing my skills and trying a new market” — creating art collections for houses around the world. After that? “Seeing my art licensing collections for sale in the retail market.”

Anne Tsaprazis is a surface designer who develops print and pattern through collage and hand-rendered illustration. Influences on her work vary, she says, “from contemporary culture and folklore, to (my) creative intuition.”