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

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

New Designer’s 2015 – Part One; Ceramics

Eva Radulova
Staffordshire University
MA Ceramic Design for Manufacturing

Eva’s clean lines, minimal palette and attention to detail stood out for me. Combining angular aesthetics with more fluid pieces, she has created everyday tableware as well as more decorative vessels. Working from the heart of Stoke-on-Trent’s famous and historical potteries, Eva has produced some beautiful 21st Century ceramics.
www.facebook.com/ERadulovaCeramics


Emma Lyon
De Montford University
Design Crafts

Taking her inspiration from positive and negative space in the natural world, Emma demonstrates her technical skills combining mould-making, slip-casting and slip-trailing to create these fragile yet strong hand-held bowls and larger statement pieces. Her colour palette is also a nod to the natural world with the complimentary, muted, yet fresh colours working together making it very difficult to just admire one piece alone.
www.facebook.com/emmalyon25designermaker


Josie Seymour-Jones
Hereford College of Arts
Contemporary Design Crafts

Although Josie works in 3D, she uses clay as if it’s a canvas, painting and building up layers to create interesting landscapes and textures in her work. These small, quiet, delicate pieces when combined together create an undulating view, perhaps taking reference from her hometown in North Wales.
www.josiesjones.co.uk


Thomas Carl Mann
De Montford University
Design Crafts

I’ve admired Thomas’ work through the wonders of Instagram for a little while now, so it was lovely to see it first-hand last week. Taking his inspiration from nautical paraphernalia, he has embellished his work sympathetically using natural materials leather and copper, that really compliment his choice of colour palette, giving it a sophisticated and contemporary feel.
www.facebook.com/thomascarlmann

New Designer’s 2015 – Part One; Jewellery

I’ve been going to New Designers for a number of years now, and I have to say that this year has some exception talent on show. So much so, I’ll be splitting Part One into three posts covering Ceramics, Surface/Textiles design, and Jewellery.

Katy Fletcher
De Montford University
Design Crafts

Katy has a unique take on contemporary jewellery, referring to herself as a collector, gatherer and maker, the collection draws on her love of found objects and how these influence the outcome of each piece. She has experimented with enamelling for some time, and has a strong following with her geometric, pastel pieces which she has been making and selling online alongside completing her degree. This tougher edge to her work has a more organic feel taking reference from erosion, naming her collection, ‘Worn Away’. Next up, she plans to continue working as a jewellery designer and maker, and with found objects taking centre stage as her inspiration, the possibilities are endless. http://katyfletcher.blogspot.co.uk

Natalia Antunovity
Birmingham City University, School of Jewellery
Design for Industry

Hungarian born Natalia showcases her clean, modern jewellery collections at this year’s New Designer’s. Her collection entitled ‘The Play Element I and II caught my eye in particular, where delicate detailing is pared perfectly with a strong, minimal exterior. Combining 3D and traditional techniques, Natalia also utilises modern forming and joining techniques to achieve complex designs which would otherwise be impossible to make.
http://nataliantunovity.wix.com/nataliantunovity

Megan Collins
Vannetta Seecharran School of Jewellery
Jewellery Design

Megan’s graduate collection draws on modern, geometric shapes with its inspiration rooted in the natural world. Her early process was to look at the repetition found in plants, and creating a balance between the natural environment and abstract geometry. The pureness and simplicity of her work was incredibly beautiful, the individual disks in polished sterling silver translated from rings to necklaces in this strong and professional display.
http://www.megancollinsjewellery.com

Melissa Yarlett
University of Central Lancashire
Contemporary Crafts

Melissa’s work combines delicate clusters of silver and precious stones with clean lines in sterling silver. Her inspiration stems from the beauty of lichen and has managed to create these cluster formations bringing texture and colour together in each unique piece. She currently works from her small studio in North West England, making each piece by hand. The contrast of the lichen-inspired formations with the simplicity of the rings and necklaces was incredibly tactile and beautiful and has the balance of intricacy and simplicity exactly right.
http://www.melissayarlett.co.uk

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