University of Tokyo's Chiba and Tomas Maier

University of Tokyo's Manabu Chiba and Tomas Maier collaborate on a design competition for Bottega Veneta. Photo courtesy of Bottega Veneta

There's no better way to find the next big designer than to check out up-and-comers before they hit the job market.

Bottega Veneta is taking this route for its furniture design competition with the University of Tokyo.

The competition is limited to students of famed architect Manabu Chiba at the university's graduate School of Engineering.

These lucky few are invited to design a piece of furniture that goes along with the fashion line's elegant look, but that also serves a function for someone seated.

Bottega's creative director Tomas Maier personally flew to Tokyo to review the design proposals.

"I have long admired Japanese craftsmanship and design so it's a pleasure and a privilege to be hosting a design competition together with the University of Tokyo," says Maier.

"The aim of the competition is to support these young designers and artists by enabling them to present their work to the widest possible audience," he added.

While students are finalizing their submissions now, three winners will be announced Dec. 18 and will fly to Milan to present their pieces at the luxury house's 2010 Salone del Mobile presentation next April.

The winning designs will be available through special order late next year at Bottega Veneta stores worldwide. (Now, there's something for the resume!)

Bottega isn't the only company tapping fresh designer talent, another designer brand is also holding a design competition.