House and Garden was Jaimi’s looking glass to the future

At a young age Jaimi Brunton often found herself flicking through the glossy pages of the House & Garden magazine at the supermarket while her mum was completing the weekly grocery shop. As the recipient of the 2019 Most Promising Design Student - winner of the Judy Bark Cup, Jaimi has managed to link this pre-teen passion in design to an ultimate career choice, bringing her avidity and dedication to the industry.


The BCITO, in association with NKBA, established this annual award to celebrate a student who demonstrated knowledge, technique and willingness to apply new skills, combined with high levels of enthusiasm and motivation. 

It was presented to Jaimi at the 2019 NKBA awards dinner, where more than 180 people celebrated the success of their colleagues, peers and lifelong industry friends at the Aviary, a glamorous venue on top of Melbourne’s exclusive Crown Hotel.

The calibre of this year’s Most Promising designers challenged NKBA’s Tutor Mark Bruce. For the first time ever four nominations were put forward to an independent group of judges who declared Jaimi the winner of the award for 2019.

Mark Bruce said “when Jamie attended her off-job training she was “that” person you will remember, an energizer bunny. Her mind raced with ideas bursting to be shared, resulting in messages getting stuck in translation, quickly followed by a fit of giggles.

Jaimi’s submitted work showed another side, a clear, orderly and well-researched approach with very clever designs not yet seen from 70 plus previous students working from the same design brief. Although a high standard was set on her first assignment this improved through each consecutive submission with her latest work which simply put was ‘wow’. With an infectious smile and enthusiasm for life Jaimi is a talented, unique and humble designer.”

Verina Jones of BCITO managed to sneak a moment to talk with Jaimi and her employer, Leroy of NT Joinery, Te Awamutu to find out more about this gracious rising star and her employer. Jaimi shared that, as far back as she can remember, she’s always dreamed of being an interior designer. Intrigued by beautiful spaces, when she was younger she’d rearrange her room all the time.

“I loved going to the supermarket with mum - I’d dash to the magazine aisle where I’d flick through Trends, House and Garden NZ. I used to hide an issue in the trolley when we were waiting in line - I never got away with it, always having to put it back lol. Eventually I got pocket money so I’d buy a magazine and cut out all the things I liked, gluing them into my dream journal.” Jaimi said.

Talking to her at the awards, I wondered how a girl goes from House & Garden cut-outs / pasting into dream journals to being presented with the Judy Bark Cup?

Jaimi says “I’d moved to Canberra City and was looking for a job. My Uncle was installing security cameras in a kitchen design showroom - he found out that they were looking for a new designer and lined up an interview; I shared my hand-sketched designs and needless to say I got the job – yay! Never looking back - there I fell in love with designing kitchens. Every job was more challenging; I was constantly learning something new. I worked alongside three amazing senior designers who taught me all the basics, I learnt so much from them.

“This industry can be tough for someone who self-doubts; you have to constantly be your own cheerleader. It’s critical to surround yourself with people who support you and root for your success. That’s what keeps your head in the right space.

“It’s important to have a Hero and for me that’s my Mum. Witnessing what she achieved as a single parent influences the choices I make, the attitude I choose (career and personal) every day. Mum never worked in design but she taught me how to be independent, to be determined and go for what I want.”

I asked Jaimi to share one tip with student designers reading her story, she says “Make sure you follow the brief correctly and once all the important parts are covered then have some fun with the design. It's your opportunity to showcase yourself and your personal style”.

Leroy, Jaimi’s employer, flew to Melbourne along with other members of the NT Joinery team to support her and her fellow designer Michael Murray. Michael took away the CDS Student Design competition highly commended award.

I asked Leroy, as one of the partners and employer of 44 staff including design students and apprentices if he had one tip up his dinner jacket that he would be happy to share with another employer, he says “Invest in your staff, back them as much as possible. If we are not learning we become stale. People also have to come to work to have fun, if they are not having fun they need to move on as it is not good for the health of that person or your business.”

On the quiet we asked Leroy if he’d like to say a little something publicly to Jaimi. Sharing for the first time, he said “Jaimi is a very talented individual, her work ethic is faultless and she is an amazing person to have on our team, socially and professionally she will make your day better! She has had great success with our customers and we value her input very much. As a company we are continuously changing and Jaimi is very open to adapting alongside our changes, I feel very lucky to have her on our team and am so happy she has been acknowledged with this award, it couldn’t have gone to a more deserving person, we have our very own celebrity.”

BCITO would also like to congratulate the 3 Most Promising Student runner ups; Jamie-Lee Clark of Superior Kitchens, Kathryn Ransley of Kitchen Craft Ltd and Madison Duxfield of German Kitchens.

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