Designer Kelly Deck steers this year’s new category for Makers.

We’re nine years into our annual Designers of the Year awards, and we’re launching a new category for the first time since we launched: the Maker category.When we launched the program back in 2008, we wanted to be comprehensive about the design world without watering down the categories into too many smaller divisions: Interior Designer of the Year, but no subcategories of kitchen design or bathroom design; Architect of the Year, but not splitting hairs of the kind of architecture.But we realized we’ve been leaving out an important group of designers that’s only been growing stronger in the last few years, that of the Maker. It’s a space for those potters, ceramicists, leatherworkers and accessory designers who were awkwardly slotted into the Furniture and Industrial design categories in the past to compete in a more apples vs apples category.MORE: See past winners of our Designers of the Year awards. Designer Kelly Deck has long been a supporter of the maker community—she opened Simple back in 2002, a store that celebrated local craft—and she’ll be steering the judging panel for this new category. “When I opened my store on Main Street back then, no one understood what high-end craft was,” she says.  “I studied in Britain, and there’s been an enormous regard for the guild system there,  and there has been for centuries.””What I love about craft or making is the acknowledgement of the human hand in the work,” she says. “Even if it’s extremely refined, some how the hand is still there. That work is soulful and has a long history in making.Bringing the work of these makers into an interior design elevates the space, she says. “It brings an authenticity to an interior. It brings story to the design, the story of the maker. Whether you know that story or not, you feel it, there’s a presence to the pieces.””I think it’s exciting that a new space has been created to illuminate western Canadian talent that’s emerging in craft and making.”

Enter Western Living’s Designers of the Year: Deadline April 1!

 MORE: See our past DOTY winners hereMORE: Sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss any Designers of the Year news!