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.

Colours To Dye For

As a designer myself, it feels like there is a natural default when looking at concepts for a new project. Unless otherwise briefed of course, a moodboard can quickly emerge that includes sleek, minimal images. An abundance of monochrome details, and the mainstay, grey, whether warm or cool, will feature in some capacity. We are sometimes a little afraid of colour, there'll be an accent here, a detail there, but to fully embrace colour is often a rarity.

House of Arike, the independent British brand has tapped into this fear, and are asking us to fully immerse ourselves in not only colour, but pattern too. In 2013 Creative director Yemi Onibiyo decided to leave her career in Criminal Law behind and follow her dream to start a luxury interior design business.

Taking inspiration from traditional African fabrics, Yemi and her design team create prints with a contemporary edge. Using responsibly sourced, sustainable materials, everything is designed and produced in the UK.

I met up with Yemi a few weeks ago as she launched her new collection at Tent London, her first time there, as part of London Design Festival. Having spent time developing her brand, and launching her website, the latest collection shows a new level of confidence in her bold use of colour. Something that did not go unnoticed by interiors magazine Living Etc, picking House of Arike out as their 'one to watch'.

As well as continuing to produce soft furnishings, Yemi is also expanding her brand with small homeware pieces, namely coasters and oven gloves, to appeal to a wider audience, as well as spill colour across every room.

House of Arike's mission is clear, even if you remove just one bland piece from your home, replace with a hit of colour. Whether a coaster or a cushion, it's time to not be afraid of bold patterns and clashing prints, and you'll be safe in the knowledge that it'll always look good next to a grey backdrop.

House of Arike's new collection will be available to buy at The London Artisan at Truman Brewery, on the 22nd November at the Look Like Love stall.

 

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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.

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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.