New Designer’s Part 1-2016

Year on year the level of talent that comes out of UK universities continues to rise, making New Designer's a pivotal and key event in my calendar. Part One consists of Fashion and Textiles, Jewellery, Ceramics and Contemporary Design Crafts, combining contrasting tactility of fabric, metals and porcelain.

Thursday for me is always a good time to look around, just far enough away from the stress of setting-up and the hustle and bustle of the preview and awards evening, it allows time and space to enjoy the array of stands, and talk with some of the designers about their work.

Inspiration ranged from the idea of zero wastage and the challenge of evolving work in this way, (Nikkita Palmer) to using the culture of Japan as a back-drop to not only the design process, but also the way that East and West gravitate towards different forms of beauty. (Samantha McNamara)

Bold colour mixed with brutalist architectural references, (Bethany Stafford) added a modern approach to ceramic design, allowing the user to play and create their own block combinations, whereas a more muted collection in pastel hues was presented in a cluster of curved vessels, (Holly Kemp).

It was also impressive to see an interior business already in full swing, professional and focused with a lean towards homeware, the ceramics on show used natural textures working alongside grey hues (Day Design)And away from the ceramics and craft, the sparkle of silver and gold took a back seat as the hard, angular metal pieces caught my eye, (Violeta Kozlova).

Whether practical or decorative, the range of work on show was inspiring, exciting, forward-thinking and brimming with confidence.

Designers from Left to Right...

Top - Day Design/ Nikkita Palmer/ Violeta Kozlova
Bottom - Bethany Stafford/ Samantha McNamara/ Holly Kemp

Design With A Story

Discovering like-minded and passionate people is always inspiring, whether a designer, advocator, educator or blogger, so it was lovely to be introduced to the Scandinavian version of Look Like Love, Nordic Design Collective. Having a received an invitation to their first pop-up shop based in Putney, South West London, it was an opportunity to share our approach, ethos and ideas on how we both support, nurture and promote our own native designers.

With a global appeal and popularity for Nordic design, (just add 'scandinavian style' into Pinterest and you'll see what mean,) founder Maria Richardsson spotted an opportunity to showcase a variety of designers from across the Nordics, and provide an online marketplace to sell their wares. With a strong emphasis on homeware and accessories, there is a beautiful freshness to the curated mix of independent designers on show, with simple materials, forms and colour combinations perfectly surmising the ever-popular Nordic style.

Designers from across the region can apply to be added to the site, but what links both Look Like Love and Nordic Design Collective is that there has to be story, a meaning behind each piece. This is not design for design sake, the layers of aesthetics have the ability to be peeled back to reveal something about them as a designer, their inspirations, their aspirations and ultimately their meaning.

Earlier in the year, the team sat down to try and outline their passion for what they offer and how this could influence and empower others. After several discussions and brainstorming sessions, the Nordic Design Collective Manifesto was launched, and now forms the basis for the company's approach and outlook not only on the business, but also as their own personal mantra.

Be Passionate. Life is too short to settle for less.
Create Great Things. Make stuff that makes you proud.
Share your Ideas. And give credit to the one who deserves it.
Be Kind. Compassion brings happiness.
Be Brave. Find your way and believe in it.

A simple set of rules, but powerful nonetheless, and with degree shows opening across the country as we speak, they feel even more important and relevant to to the next generation of new, independent designers.

Nordic Design Collective Popup Store in collaboration with Blåbär Nordic Living in Putney, London. Open from 20th June to 20th August.

Haran-01

New Talent Search 2016…here’s the shortlist!

After several weeks of deliberation and going through multiple applications, I’m pleased to announce the shortlist for New Talent Search 2016.

Haran-01

First up is husband and wife team, Joel and Helena who set up Studio Haran after graduating from Falmouth University last Summer. Their emphasis is on sustainability and using locally sourced materials to create their furniture and lighting pieces.

Based in Cornwall, not far from where I grew up incidentally, they have steadily established themselves and their brand, and are testing the market with a few key pieces from their first collection.

I absolutely love the honestly of the craftsmanship, and the way that sustainability is such an important aspect of their design ethos. Katie at Confessions of a Design Geek has also recently interviewed them which you can read here.

Second on my shortlist is textile designer Adriana Jaroslavsky. A recent graduate of Chelsea College of Art and Design, she has developed a signature style of bold, geometric shapes and colour combinations that she has converted to silk scarves, and more recently her first range of notebooks.

Her experimental mark-making with a cross section of products, working without the constraints, and obvious order that tends to be a common theme today, means she was an easy choice as part of this year’s shortlist.

My final shortlisted designer is weaver Rowenna Mason. Based at Cockpit Arts Studio in Deptford, she has been honing her craft, building a strong portfolio of geometric, monochrome and colour blocking pieces, taking inspiration from London’s dynamic environment.

In her own words, she ‘…brings together the best of traditional technique, rural materials, innovative design and urban inspiration…’ The softness, the modernity and skill in Rowenna’s work that translates to soft furnishings and upholstery won me over, and I can’t wait to visit her studio to see her work in progress.

I would like to thank everyone that applied this year, it feels like the level of talent keeps going up, and it’s exciting to see the huge potential and range of UK based designers out there. We'll be back next year!

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New Designer’s 2015 – Part Two

As the degree show season draws to a close, I've chosen three of my top finds from New Designer's Part Two to wrap things up for the Summer. All very different, but give a cross-section of some of the incredible talent that has come through UK Universities this year.

Emma Buckley
Bath School of Art and Design, Bath Spa University
3D Design

Emma experimented with a new process using dyes traditionally used in the textile industry with surprisingly effective results. The range of vessels she produced for her graduate collection have a certain painterly quality with each experimentation producing an unusual one-off piece. It’s fresh, new and interesting colour palette made her work one of my favourite collections this year. http://embuckley.com

Sam Bellamy
Nottingham Trent University
Furniture and Product Design

Having already exhibited at May Design Series this year, and becoming the winner of the Accessories and the People’s Choice Award, I predict big things for Sam. As the names suggests, his graduate collection ‘Moroccan Lamps’ take inspiration from traditional Moroccan lighting. With their roots firmly set in England, each element is handmade in the UK, and with the commerciality of his work already in mind, each is available in a range of made-to-order finishes.
http://www.bellamydesign.co.uk

Paige Alexis Jones
University of Portsmouth
Illustration

 

Paige Alexis Jones illustrations are quiet, subtle, beautiful and airing on the side of macabre as she explores elements of death and decay. Observations using taxidermy and the animal work for reference, these delicate drawings show a strength and confidence way beyond that of a recent graduate.
http://earthlylittlethings.com

New Designer’s 2015 – Part One; Surface Pattern & Textiles

After a few technical issues with the blog this week, I can finally bring you my favourite Surface Pattern and Textiles graduates from New Designers...All my top finds from Part 2 are coming soon...

Harriet Mackie
Leeds School of Art
Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design

I had the pleasure of meeting Harriet when I visited, and she took me through her extensive portfolio of colourful, clashing, bright prints. Each design starts with a simple hand-drawn study which is then converted into a repeat pattern to eventually be used on wallpaper, gift wrap and accessories. Harriet is intending to use the facilities available at Leeds School of Art to further develop her collection, and in the meantime, I’ll be seeing how many rooms I can re-decorate to include her designs.
http://www.artsthread.com/portfolios/tropicalefflorescence/

 

Siobhan Louise
Carmarthen School of Art
Textiles; Knit, Weave, Mixed Media

Siobhan’s collection of cushions, plates and mugs with her geometric influences really stood-out. Inspiration comes in many forms, so it was surprising and refreshing that her final pieces were based around her love of football, and the abstracted patterns have created a strong collection of simple monochrome magic.
www.facebook.com/SiobhanLouiseTextiles

Surviving the Graduate Shows

Summer Degree shows are already underway up and down the country from Falmouth School of Art to Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee. The next step for many is to take a trip to London to showcase their work at national shows including New Designer’s, D&AD New Blood and Free Range, and is seen as the first opportunity for final year artists and designers to gain an insight into opinions beyond their tutors and peers.

A daunting and exciting prospect in equal measures, they are certainly my first port of call when I’m  scouting for new talent. This year is my fourth year visiting, and is always a highlight in my calendar, giving me a chance to see some of the best products, prints, fashion and furniture UK’s new designers have to offer.

As many of you will be preparing for a busy few weeks ahead, I thought it would be useful to share a few tips on how to survive London’s national degree shows. But before I do...I graduated in Product Design from Nottingham Trent University in 2004 and was not selected to be part of New Designer’s. I was devastated, as I thought this was my only shot at getting a job in the industry. For all of you that didn’t make the cut, do not be disappointed, there are many other ways to get your work in front of the right people. (I’ll be sharing my advice on this in my next blog post.)

So for all you lucky ones out there, (who I may get the chance to speak to), here are my tips to making it through a crazy busy few weeks…

It may sound obvious, but keep your business cards topped up every day. 
There have been a number of occasions when I’ve been really interested in a graduates work, but there wasn’t any cards to hand, and simply had to walk away with minimal details. These rarely then make my shortlist.

Don’t feel obliged to stand by your work the entire time.
You may feel like if you walk away from your stand, you may loose out on meeting that one person that gives you a big break. Honestly, if they are really keen on your work, they will leave their details or come back again to see you. Plus, it’s good to take in other work from other university stands, be inspired, pick your own favourites, take a few cards, photos etc.

Encourage people to take photos.
It’s the social media age, and any images of your work that could potentially end up on someone’s twitter or Instagram feed is always a positive. I wanted to take photos of a graduate's collection last year, and was told no photos allowed. They could have been someone I would have promoted and eventually worked with, by being denied this opportunity, I had no visual reference to work with and so they didn’t make my shortlist. Plus it’s a good ice-breaker if you’re not so confident about talking to people, invite them to take photos, and give them a card with your Twitter/Instagram details. Being tagged will mean you can keep track of any coverage you gain.

Have realistic expectations.
There will be a lucky few of you that will get noticed by the right people, the buyers at John Lewis, the shopping editor of Elle Deco for example, but the reality is, the majority of you will not come away with any leads. This may sound hugely negative, but I don’t think anyone ever actually says it! The shows should be used as an exciting opportunity to branch out beyond the campus walls, gain confidence in essentially selling yourself, and your work, whether to an interested passer-by or to the creative director of a leading design agency, without feeling completely overwhelmed that every person is your one shot. Any feedback should be regarded as enriching and positive, and make you more determined to move forward with more confidence.

Translating Off-line to On-line.
With such a variety of free online resources available, if you haven’t got a blog or website yet, set one up. It’s a vital online tool to highlight your work and creating a digital portfolio is the best way to get your work out there, beyond the show stands. You’ll no doubt know more about this than me! So I won’t offer too much advice, but aligning this with details on your business cards will make it extremely easy for admirers, bloggers and buyers alike to remember your work.

Also, make sure it’s all up-to-date, when I come away with 10-20 cards of shortlisted graduates, there’s nothing worse than going onto a website to just see a holding page or no contact details. Sounds really obvious, but there have been many designers I’ve tried to track down and haven’t been able to once the shows are over.

Don’t be shy, it’s all about you.
Not everyone is that confident talking about themselves or their work, but remember, no one knows it better than you. You did the research and development that got to this point. Talk about the processes, and the inspiration, it doesn’t have to be a lot, but your passion for the work will come through regardless. Perhaps put a blog post together that you can lead interested people to if you find it really hard to talk to people, and give them a business card to find out more.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money.
Business cards, postcards, press packs, and hand-outs all cost money and there’s no need to go crazy. You’ve already spent a huge amount of money getting to this point, and of course looking professional is great, but a whole plethora of marketing materials isn’t necessary. Simply presenting your work in the best way you can, with a good amount of business cards that lead you to a blog or website is more than enough at this stage. Focus on the work and best way to be contacted, and you can plan your marketing strategy once you’ve got yourself established.

I’m sure there are plenty more tips and suggestions to offer, so feel free to add your own in the comments section. Good luck to everyone making the trip down to London over the next few weeks, I’m excited and you should be too!

Amy LeighAlexandra WebbCM CarterCM CarterRose HonickRose HonickHolly Eden & Lucy WilkinsJennifer StaffordJennifer StaffordLale GuralpLale GuralpLale GuralpLucy WilkinsRoisin ConnollyRoisin ConnollyRoisin ConnollyReece Curtis-WalwynSophie CobbSophie CobbTom HutchinsonTom Hutchinson

Pop-up on Paul Street

Clerkenwell Design Week has been growing in stature over the last few years, and being on the fringe of the fringe of it, surrounded by such talented designers was amazing.

Four months of planning, picking and prettifying later, and I had my first proper Look Like Love shop. It may only have been for one week, but it gave me a sense of excitement that one day having a permanent space to showcase new designers was definitely something to aim for. The launch brought friends, family and curious passers-by together, sharing in the experience with a range of limited edition products, prints and prosecco on offer.

I never go into a space with any expectations on who will pop in, what will sell, and how much money will be taken, as for me, along with the designers, this is all still very new and I'm learning and growing my brand in parallel with all of them. That being said, I couldn't have put it together without their amazing work, help and company, and we now share not only in what real customers think about the work, but we're pretty good at putting up some particularly tricky vinyl too!

Click on 'Read More' to see images from launch night...

  • Amy Leigh
  • Roisin Connolly

The Hands-on Approach

With a mere 5 weeks to go to the next pop-up, I’m excited to announce the full line up of talented, emerging British designers you can expect to see.

The week long pop-up shop is aimed to highlight designer-makers with an emphasis on hand-crafted techniques, a trend that has been emerging over the last couple of years, with a move away from digitally-aided design. Focusing on the tactile relationship between the designer and consumer, each designer’s collection has a sense of honesty and craftsmanship, with many pieces either a limited edition or one-off item.

The designers has been honing their craft over the last few years, and by having more of a hands-on approach provides a better understanding of production, and the best techniques to use instead of relying on computer-aided enhancements.

From the 19-23rd May, as well as presenting new collections from 13 up-and-coming designers, we will also be holding a series of in-store workshops, talks from the creative industries, and daily portfolio surgeries for up-coming graduates throughout the week, and I’ll have more on the full events calendar in the next couple of weeks.

Amongst the 13 designers taking part are a selection of designers who showcased at the exhibition last September with their new collections for 2015, alongside new additions to Look Like Love.

Roisin Connolly is one of Look Like Love’s original designers and showcased her early collection at our first pop-in in Peckham in 2012. Since the launch of her own website, Roisin has built a strong following, and has been non-stop fulfilling orders as well as developing her latest collection of statement jewellery.

Since September textiles and print designer Holly Eden has been teaching as well as exhibiting in various local exhibitions. For the pop-up in May she has expanded her collection of silk scarves and headbands with her signature hand-drawn prints, as well as presenting new larger, silk wall hangings.

A recent addition to Look Like Love, Lale Guralp’s popular hand-drawn still life illustrations are her labour of love, with the original pineapple drawing taking 110 hours to complete. Expect to see the full range of prints and limited editions on show with mini greetings cards available too.

Sophie Cobb showcased her graduate collection at last September’s exhibition and has been busy working on her latest collection, as well as working as an art teaching assistant. She has been experimenting with glazing and building on the colour palette she developed during her final year at university to create a subtle, crafted mix of small one-off vessels.

Illustrator and print designer Lucy Wilkins applied to this year’s New Talent Search and having met her last month, it was a must that she was involved with the pop-up. Her work is inspired by the nostalgia of mid-century design and crockery that she finds at car boot sales. Her illustrations mix hand-drawn interpretations with a retro colour palette.

Reece Curtis-Walwyn has been super busy working on her S/S 2015 womenswear collection, and her work ethic is incredible having showcased her latest work at London Fashion Week earlier in the year, several of editorials, and a charity fashion show in the pipeline, she never stops. Reece will be stopping for at least the week of the pop-up, to present her line to prospective buyers.

This year’s New Talent Search not only brought out recent graduates, but also students in their 3rd year of study. One such designer was Alexandra Webb who travelled all the way from Leeds to meet me. I’m so glad she did, because her approach to surface print was different to anything I’d seen before. I’m excited to be one of the first to present part of her confident, mix media prints from her final collection even before she graduates.

The self-proclaimed, print obsessed designer Emily Carter has continued to build her textile brand Rose Honick since showcasing at the Look Like Love exhibition last September. This time she has shifted her focus away from cushions and tea towels towards zip pouches and purses, all completely hand-made, hand-printed with her cool, clashing print designs.

Lucinda Ireland has a stand-out typographic identity associated with the work we are familiar with, her bold illustrative prints ‘Hello’ prints  and most recently a commission for Harvey Nichols latest event. She is constantly evolving and her street art is the latest addition to her portfolio lifting the mood of the grimy streets of London.

Tom Hutchinson celebrated the launch of his first collection with us last September off the back of his incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign. This Spring, as well as his signature collection, expect new hand-crafted pieces as he expands his homeware and product range.

A new addition to Look Like Love, Amy Leigh’s graduate jewellery collection had a sculptural, stand-out influence to it. Since graduating, she has been developing a more wearable range that still stays true to her original inspirations.

CM Carter is one of our original designers and she continues to delight with her humorous illustrative offerings. Her latest collection builds on her exhibited pieces from last year with an expanded range of illustrated prints with there comic undertones.

I first spotted Jennifer Stafford at New Designer’s a few years ago, and although at the time she wasn’t in a position to be part of Look Like Love, it was a lovely surprise to hear from Jennifer to let me know that she had set up her workshop and had a collection ready to go. As well as her minimalistic range on offer, she has teamed up with artist Susi Bellamy with a more colourful collection of vessels.

With the final preparations underway, and a range of talks and workshops throughout the week, I hope you can all pop down to see this extremely talented group of designers, all are ones to watch and a moment to celebrate the best of British design talent.

Repetition Rules

During a recent trip back to Nottingham Trent University, ex-student and one of our designers Lucinda Ireland, went to talk to some of the current crop of students studying Graphic Design.

Lucinda also became a Look Like Love talent scout for the day, and one graphic design student in particular caught her eye, second year student Ella Robinson.

Still honing her craft, the French-born 21 year old has a real freshness to her illustrative creations, and the repetition in her work gives them a real presence, developing a fun, refined style of working.

I try, as best as possible, to stay true to traditional illustrative techniques…and am driven by exploring and constantly absorbing memorising imagery, I’m aiming to develop a future of engaging, limitless surface prints…

I don’t often talk about commerciality in graduate collections, as there needs to be a certain freedom of expression to students work, but I also feel that it shouldn't be ignored, and this is something that Ella has managed to capture, consciously or not. It’s easy to imagine her work as a wallpaper, or print on fabric for cushions, tea towels or everyone’s favourite canvas bag. (You can never have too many!)

With her final year fast approaching, it’s an exciting time to showcase her personality as well as her passion for print-making, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.