Habitat came under new management last year when Phil Wrigley, former boss of New Look, was parachuted in to turn around the brand. After five years of financial losses, Habitat managed to slash costs, shed staff and hone its product range to compete with the likes of Ikea. But this is still a cut-throat marketplace and the Habitat team will be looking for that killer idea to help it get a march on its competitors.
This is good news for today's designers: If they are successful at the open day, Habitat will fast track new talent straight to the production line.
Head of range, Jonathan Crawley, has a £180 million buying budget. He hopes the open day will "take a product and show not only that it can be made, it can be made at the right price."
Home retail is a crowded market so Crawley and Theo Williams, the Creative Director, are ruthless: "I'll know straight away if it's a no, quicker than if it's a yes," says Williams. Every designer has ten minutes to pitch. Anything of interest gets a red, "we like this" card that secures the designer a place on the shortlist.
The talent at this open day is considerable. From graduate Laura Wellington who lights up the room with her "Hula" lamp and Catherine Gray with her bold vases; to veteran inventors like Russ Leith with his self-supporting stand, "The Ledge". Single mum Debbie Evershed pitches her innovative garden "Frog Brackit" and it becomes clear just how high the stakes have risen - only a handful will be successful.
Laura Wellington pitches her bright, exuberant lamp to the lighting department which has an annual budget of £35 million: "If Habitat were to be interested in Hula that would just be the most epic thing. Something that most young designers dream of." Head of Range, Jonathan Crawley says, "the design is original, it's fun and it would definitely fit into the range."
Russ Leith has created "The Ledge:" a self-supporting stand that can be put up without tools in ten seconds. The ledge can stand due to "gravitational geometrical incline clamping" - a phrase Russ coined himself. Having already spent £19,000 and 15 years developing his ledge, but selling none, he is eager for the buyers at Habitat to see its potential.
Debbie Evershed pitches her "Frog Brackit", a multifunctional hanging basket that doesn't take up any ground space. She wants to hop from market stall to shopping mall: "I want it to be so established in people's lives that it's like a dishwasher or washing machine or wheels. I want it to be part of their lifestyle."
Self-taught carpenter Stephen Robinson is anxious about pitching his bespoke furniture at the Habitat open day: "People in suits I find very difficult to talk to. I get very nervous in that environment."
It shows and Theo is on hand to console him after his unsuccessful pitch. Robinson says: "If you've put hours and effort into designing a piece of furniture, the only reason you're doing it is for people to love it, to want to own it. If people say they don't like it and it's not suitable for what they want then it hurts."
The experts say...
After seeing at least ten successful designers, Jonathan Crawley says, "I can be fairly confident and say that I've seen more than a million pounds worth of new business for Habitat after this one afternoon."
Back at Boots HQ
Stuart Jolley and Will Butterworth cleaned up in the boardroom with their "Wingman Wipes", but now they need to freshen up its image. The nightclub prototype for the "quick hygiene fix which guys need" has been broadened, but after disagreements, Will has stepped away from the project. When talking to Stuart, Theo is bewildered by thye decision: "He's walked away with nothing. He could end up being the bloke that turned down the Beatles!"
Meanwhile, Birgitte Lydum who's still waiting for a call from Boots, takes a half tonne delivery of baby "Sun-Snoozers", much to Theo's dismay: "This product is a seasonal product. If they're not going to take it this season then you've got 1500 of these to go and sell. Don't be scared now!"
Tune in to Britain's Next Big Thing tonight on BBC2 at 8pm.