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!

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!

Pop-Up+ Campaign Design

With 4 weeks to go until the launch of our next pop-up, I wanted to turn the attention to the events calendar we’ve put in place, an exciting new addition to Look Like Love.

It seems like a pop-up, well, pops up every week in London, and with Clerkenwell Design Week happening a stones throw away, we wanted to present a pop-up+ so an opportunity to meet the designers taking part, working in the space, creating their one-off and limited editions live in store. We wanted to showcase their work, as well as their story and unique point of view as an emerging talent jostling for position in an ever-competitive creative industry.

Sitting alongside these fresh faces, we have invited creatives with over 20 years industry experience to talk about their approach and how they have made their mark on the creative landscape, as well as offering guidance and advice to the next generation.

On Wednesday 20th May, creative director Philip Handford of London-based agency Campaign Design, will talk about the Future of Retail Design and how the experiential elements of design are carving out a new shopping experience for consumers.

 

Burberry, London

 

Philip has worked for some of the most successful global design agencies, including Imagination and Universal Design Studio before setting-up Campaign, securing Burberry as his first client.

The last five years have seen the agency grow with clients including 3.1 Philip Lim, Dunhill and Selfridges to name a few, with each having a unique point of view, there is definitely no ‘house style’ when you look at the portfolio of projects on Campaign’s website.

 

 3.1 Philip Lim | Pelham Street, London

 

With The Fragrance Lab taking over the entire corner of Selfridges late last year, and the first time customers could walk through the window, it was a unique sensory experiential journey to create a bespoke fragrance, the ultimate personal service without a pushy spraying sale assistant in sight.

This approach to retail design that envelopes the customer gives an interesting insight into consumer behaviours, something that Philip continues to explore at varying levels depending on the client and environment.

 

The Fragrance Lab | Selfridges, London

 

Come and meet Philip on Wednesday 20th May from 2-3pm as he talks about his approach and point of view when it comes to design that engages all the senses.

Spaces are limited, so book your free ticket here.

See what else is on offer during the week on our Up-coming Events page

Image by Yeshen Venema Photography

Turning Over a New Leaf

January means the to-do lists come out in earnest, (as if they ever really get put away!) and all ideas seem renewed, looking at them with fresh eyes. After a busy and productive 2014, my mind is literally fizzing with the prospect of the coming year and all the plans, ideas and projects waiting in the wings.

Always at the top of my list is to find new talent from across the U.K, and with the recent release of the independent biannual magazine Fiera from Confessions of a Design Geek founder Katie Treggidan, there is a fresh crop of design talent brought to the attention of the masses.

Having read the first issue from cover to cover, here are a few of my top U.K-based picks…


Rhian Malin

A recent graduate from Camberwell College of Art, Rhian has a unique approach to her ceramic designs. After throwing the simple vessels, she invites people to shape each one with their hands to create one-off distorted, tactile pieces.

Using a classic blue and white willow pattern following the unique contours, Rhian has created a bold collection with its roots in individuality and expression.

The strength of her work really shines through when viewed together, with each piece having its own unique story to tell.


Beatrice Larkin

Having finished an MA in Textile Design at the Royal College of Art, Beatrice has crafted a collection of beautifully simple, yet bold designs.

Based in London, she uses traditional weaving techniques alongside her hand drawings to create soft-focus contemporary, geometric designs.

Beatrice works closely with a mill in Yorkshire through each stage of production, to manufacture woven blankets and throws not only maintaining a strong link with traditional techniques and methods, but sees the importance of working with a U.K based company. This personal touch is evident with each throw using the finest wools for the ultimate soft and cosy finish.


Jodie Watts

Wanting to follow her passion, London-born Jodie went from Law to Furniture design, learning her craft at London College of Furniture.

Jodie’s designs combine traditional craftsmanship with simplicity to create quality contemporary pieces, and she has been lucky enough to work with some of the U.Ks best manufacturers including Benchmark and Parker Knoll, forming a strong portfolio of work.

I’m loving her Nymph occasional table in particular with modern lines and contemporary detailing combining both solid oak and ash.


Tiipoi

Founded in 2013 by creative partners Spandana Gopal and Andre Pereira, Tiipoi is based on a less is more approach, with their simple and beautiful designs inspired by the Indian subcontinent ethos, where nothing is wasted and where improvisation come from a lack of something rather than an abundance of it.

Living in a world of built-in obsolescence and a throw-away attitude, their material approach to design focuses on quality and longevity, something that grows and changes, ages and becomes more precious over time.

Using predominantly copper and brass combined with wood and glass their timeless collection is luxurious, yet humble, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.


These are just a few of my favourite designers from the first issue of Fiera. Katie’s new approach to putting all her discoveries from across the globe in one place, is a great way to celebrate new design talent that may have otherwise been overlooked. This now permanent record now brings them to the forefront, to be appreciated and celebrated.

“New designers still believe in the impossible - a crucial trait if design is going to help solve the problems, large and small, that we face today.” - Katie Treggiden

To purchase your own copy of Fiera click the link below...
http://shop.magculture.com/products/fiera-magazine

Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants…

It's our third week of showcasing new designers from our New Talent Search, and this week we are excited to introduce fashion designer Reece Curtis-Walwyn.

A graduate from Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication in Fashion Womenswear in 2013, her final collection really stood out for us.

We have to say that it wasn't until we saw her collection up close that we really appreciated the craftsmanship that had gone into it. The tailored pieces are structured, yet feminine and all exquisitely finished.

So it was no surprise to learn that Reece has won several awards since graduating including, Young Designer to Watch 2013 and Own Label Graduate Fashion Competition. And had the opportunity to dress Jenni Steele for the BAFTA noiminations and film premier for 'Home Again'.

Reece's final collection 'Ventor Deform' takes inspiration from the motto, 'Standing on the shoulders of Giants' and the documentary 'Nina Conti- A Ventriloquist's Story: Her Master's Voice'. She also took influences from contortionism, and gaining an understanding of how the body can be portrayed in different shapes and positions.

There is a strength in Reece's work that really impressed us, and each piece she presented was a subtle nod to empowered dressing without being overtly masculine.

Reece's collection will be available as made-to-order sizes from September.