Fund a future designer…

Whether a past or present designer I've had the pleasure to work with, I'll always try and help as much as I can with their own endeavours or projects.

One such designer who featured her first womenswear collection both on-line and at two of our pop-ups is Reece Curtis-Walwyn last year, is continuing to flourish and build her own womenswear label. But with all businesses, this is no mean feat.

Having been asked to present her latest collections as this Winter's Clothes Show Live in Birmingham, she is in need of a helping hand to get her there, and has launched her own crowd funding page to go towards the cost of the stand. Like all crowd funding sites, she is offering an array of pieces for pledges ranging from new collection t-shirts to a signature RCW jacket.

To give an emerging designer a helping hand, click on the link below to pledge your support...

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/fund-a-future-designer

We'll be selling RCW t-shirts in support too, available in the next couple of weeks

New Designer’s Part 2 – 2016

In a second whirlwind visit to the Business Design Centre last week, Part 2 of New Designer's brings together graduates from furniture, product, interior and digital, as well as a second helping of illustration. And as always, the array of work on offer, the quality and craftsmanship was of the highest standard.

When scouting for new talent and potential designers to work with, it's not simply about the end product, but the research, inspiration and detailing that catches my eye. On a personal level, I'm often drawn to sketch books, doodles and scribbles that a seed of an idea may have originated from, which then in turn leads to a final solution. Four designers in particular caught my eye this year, already showing huge promise and potential as up-and-coming designers with their commercially aware products, and interestingly, three of whom are graduates from the same university.

Francesca Moutafis, a product and furniture graduate from Kingston University, has comprised her final collection with a series of furniture and minimalist ceramics. Her sensitive touch with both mediums has given her the opportunity to create a cohesive, decorative and functional range of pieces.

Northumbria University, provided a well-rounded and professional collection of work that wouldn't be out of place on the shelves of Heal's or Habitat, and one of the stand-out areas of this year's part 2 exhibition. So unsurprisingly, I have chosen three graduates from Northumbria as my ones to watch.

Specialising in lighting design, Emma Graney has used architecture and geometry to influence her urban inspired pieces, with a mix of concrete and glass, combined with the fluidity of a traditional filament bulb. She intends to continue to grow her body of work, not only in lighting design, but would also like to experiment with furniture using timber. A hint of softness perhaps to compliment the brutalist lighting elements.

George Riding made the switch to the BA (Hons) Furniture & Product Design, after feeling limited in his creativity studying a BSc in Product Design and Engineering. Making the move has allowed him to look deeper into the emotional aspects of design, and creating a positive experience for the end user. His Indoor Watering Can was one of several pieces on show, focusing on functional and minimal aesthetic qualities.

Also graduating from Northumbria is product and furniture designer Olivia Post. Her Spin Lamp combines timber and copper and was designed to be functional and playful. Inspired by the child's toy, a spinning top, the interactive nature of the piece means it can act as a task or ambient light feature.

An impressive selection this year that not only motivates me as a designer, as well as a supporter of new talent, but inspires me too. The confidence with which new designers now promote themselves and their work is wonderful to see, setting up an online presence has become second nature with a plethora of self-titled studios and workshops already popping up across the country, it seems that creative endeavours won't be slowing down any time soon.

Designers from Left to Right...

Top - Emma Graney/ George Riding
Bottom - Francesca Moutafis/ Olivia Post

 

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.

Tamsin Arrowsmith-Brown

Made In Clerkenwell returns for Spring

Certain areas of London are renowned for their qualities and quirks be it cultural, aesthetic, architectural or demographic. One such area that stands out for its strong creative roots is Clerkenwell. Sandwiched in part by The Barbican, on the edge of the City, and also close to both Islington and Shoreditch, this small district has been a hub for designers of all disciplines for many years.

With Vitra plotting its London flagship here, as well as Clerkenwell Design Week growing in popularity yearon year, Craft Central have a relatively quiet spot in the heart of EC1. Perched on the corner of Clerkenwell Green, with a larger Victorian building on St. John’s Square just across the road, it offers not only short-term, (and affordable) gallery spaces for its members, but also a larger support network for new, emerging and established designers/makers.

One of it’s main events is Made In Clerkenwell, a bi-annual showcase that celebrates the 100 resident designers and members across its two spaces, opening their doors to the public for a ‘behind-the-scenes’ wander around the studios, and the opportunity to buy directly from designers before pieces reach stockists and retailers.

Forest + Found

This Spring the focus is on all things new, so expect to see pre-launch collections as well as work-in- progress prototypes, and a glimpse at designers’ processes and inspiration.

Tamsin Arrowsmith-Brown

‘We are extremely excited to offer visitors the chance to view new collections and prototypes by our designer makers, try out specialist crafts through Bezalel Workshops as well as learn more about the history of Clerkenwell through our guided walking tours. A particular highlight will be awarding one of our talented members £500 to develop their new collection’  says Louisa Pacifico, Chief Executive, Craft Central

Megan Collins

Expect to see an array of talented designers including our very own hand-picked jewellery designer Megan Collins, Forest and Found and Tamsin Arrowsmith-Brown.

Made In Clerkenwell: Spring 2016 is on from 18-21 May.
Further details can be found at: www.craftcentral.org.uk

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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Setting The Pace

It seems crazy to think that a whole year has gone by since our 'Hand-Picked' exhibition of emerging designers was in full swing as part of London Design Festival.

A lot has happened in the last 12 months, and for one of our hand-picked designers, it has meant the creation of her business and brand RCW, and showcasing her womenswear collection at London Fashion Week.

Last weekend, Reece Curtis-Walwyn presented her latest work in Devonshire Square, Central London, as part of the Independent Collections runway show. With a mix of her statement pieces, she added a few new feminine touches to her work. It was always lovely to see her collaborating with one of our other designers, Amy Leigh, who provided her statement jewellery to add the finishing touch to Reece's presentation.

Her work always exudes independence, confidence, and strength, without neglecting the importance of femininity, and I'm proud to see that she has not only achieved this with her clothes, but with her own determination to succeed in one of the hardest creative industries.

12047029_1605775589686155_6102100370440768533_n

So what's next for the formidable fashion force? Reece has big plans unsurprisingly, with Paris Fashion Week a distinct possibility, as well as her first solo pop-up store. Knowing how determined she is, I guarantee you'll be seeing RCW stores popping up everywhere in the not too distant future.

 

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!