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

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.

Tailored Ambitions

With London Fashion Week just around the corner, I wanted to catch-up with one of our emerging fashion designers who also applied to our New Talent Search last year.

Womenswear designer Reece Curtis-Walwyn graduated from Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication, with a BA Fashion Womenswear degree, and since graduating, it seems like her feet haven't touched the ground.

Having met Reece this time last year, I was able to see her graduate collection first hand, and it was clear she had an amazing eye for detail and tailoring techniques that made her work really stand out.

I caught up with Reece this week to find out what made her take pursue what is deemed to be the hardest design industry to break into, where she finds inspiration, and what's next on the agenda for her...

What drew you to fashion design, and when was the moment you knew that was what you wanted to do?

Fashion design for me started as just a hobby from secondary school in my Textile lessons. I would always finish before everyone else which made my tutor give me more projects to do. At the time I really didn’t mind, as it was something which I really enjoyed, especially coming to school early, and staying behind to finish my work, as I never had a sewing machine at the time.

Throughout the journey in school, I had a small insight into what I believed at the time the fashion industry was like behind all these worldwide brands featured in Vogue magazine, which I collected every month. At the end of my final year of secondary school after collecting my GCSE’s, I knew fashion was the direction I had to go in, which I am glad I did!

Your graduate collection has a strong female attitude shown through tailoring and structure, where do your main influences and inspirations come from, and have they changed at all since graduating?

Thank you for the kind words. Inspiration can come in any form, for example, I work a lot from quotes and words and interpret them into a theme or started point. Or it could be something as simple as a colour, fabric sample or an image that I’ve seen.

I'm also heavily influenced by menswear fashion and tailoring. I am amazed by the cut, style and details in tailored garments, which are very clean. This fascination could also come from my granddad who was a tailor himself.

I strongly believe being a creative individual, you have to be very opened-minded and allow your designs to flow and create something which you never dreamed off.

What was your initial plan after you graduated, to work on building your own brand, or to gain experience from industry?

Since graduating my plans were to work in industry to gain experience, and to work on building my brand.

What has been the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome since graduating?

The biggest hurdle has been deciding whether or not I stick to working on my own brand or working for a fashion brand. After sticking to what I believed in, with a lot of focus and determination, I stuck to building my brand, which I can very proud of as I have achieved many goals and press coverage.

What has been your biggest achievement since graduating?

I would say the biggest achievements were dressing Jenni Steels for the BAFTA awards, film premier and wardrobe for Untamed film 2015. As well as winning the Own Label Graduate Award, showcasing in The Houses of Parliament, LFW 2015 and Top Drawer London 2015 alongside luxury jewellery.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to study fashion design, and to those about to graduate?

I would say believe in yourself and your work, there are going to be people that are going to put you down and question what you do and don’t understand your work. If you are able to give answers to every question fired at you, then you know your work.

Remember there is a reason behind why you wanted to study this course. Make sure you are ready to take criticism and have an open mind. The work you produce is your own work, do not let anyone change your mind and influence you to create something you are not proud of.

Lastly, be ready for the sleepless nights and working on your work 24/7!

Finally, what’s next on your to-do list?

RCW to-do list includes getting clothing into stores, showcasing my S/S15 Tones Collection and launching my brand.

From Part One to Part Two…

One of the favourite parts of our job is scouting the degree shows for new talent, and 2014 has proved to be another hugely talented year.

New Designer's held at Islington's Business Design Centre every Summer is the hub for the UK's Universities, coming together to showcase the very best of their creative talent. This is our third year of attending and here are a few of our favourite finds over the last two weeks…

Part One

Amy Pegler

We starting following Amy Pegler, a graduate from Hereford University, a few weeks before New Designers as we loved her graphic, urban environment inspired textiles. There's a freshness to her designs that caught our eye, and were lucky enough to meet her and have a chat about her collection too.

 

Melody Vaughan

 

Melody Vaughan from Nottingham Trent University had an interesting take on ceramics, and her pieces were more of an interactive, visual tool as well as a sculptural one. We loved the moulded shapes and colour combinations that formed the stand-out collection.

 

Aimee Bollu

 

Also from Nottingham Trent University, Aimee Bollu's final collection was based around collecting and hoarding, with a touch of her own OCD. Mixed with her beautifully simple ceramic pieces, she combined found objects from the streets of Nottingham, otherwise deemed unloved, or uninteresting, and puts them at the forefront of what makes her work elegant, understated and modern.

 

Francesca Stride

 

A graduate from Glasgow School of Art, Francesca Stride had a very different way of displaying her wares. Using 2D card cut-out figures to drape her creations, the collection aptly titled 'Compositions for a Cardboard Cut-out' showcased industrial knitting techniques with fine wool to create a bold and colourful collection.

 

Part Two

Daniel Lau

Daniel Lau, a graduate from Nottingham Trent's Product and Furniture Design degree was on-hand to show us his chair collection, and chat about his future plans. Already successfully in production in the UK, an important aspect for Daniel, his Kai collection of wireframe chairs were striking, and finished impeccably. Available in a range of colours to suit the user, we loved the simplicity of the design and Daniel's passion for British-based design and manufacture.

 

Joshua Townley 

Joshua Townley's playful illustrative style caught our eye with his monochrome piece perched amongst a sea of colourful examples. We loved his work with just enough charm mixed with the right level of dark humour.

Alice Greatrex

The soft green hue used in Alice Greatrex's ceramic collection was stunning. We both loved the simplicity of the crafted pieces by the Loughborough graduate as well as the display itself. Without having to shout look at me, it was one of our stand-out collections from this year's crop of new talent.

Charles Parford-Plant

One of our final spots was by product and furniture graduate Charles Parford-Plant. His Tension collection showed how it is possible to create beautifully crafted, elegant and functional furniture without using a myriad of fixings to construct it. One top, four legs and four rubber tension bands are all it takes to put this table together, no assembly instructions required.

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.

And the Nominees Are…

 
At this Summer's New Designers event we came across a great range of talent, and ear-marked a few designers to get in touch with. One of which, some of you may remember that caught our eye was Clea Jentsch from Kingston University, with her simple, clean lines and pastel shades of her Desk Tidy series.
 
We just had to sign her up for our online shop, and a month or so later, after catching up with Clea in Shoreditch, we launched her limited edition collection.
 
Sitting pride of place on our home page, the pieces showcase the simplicity and creativity of working with honest materials and we are pleased to be representing Clea and her collection as she forges her path as a new designer.
 
 
Last week we heard from Clea to let us know that she has been shortlisted for the New Design Britain Awards which run in conjunction with INTERIORS UK.
 
The judges revealed which entrants have made it through to the final, and will be displaying their designs at the UK's definitive trade interiors event where the winners will be announced.
 
 
Now in its 10th year, the New Design Britain awards celebrate young design talent, uniquely giving them a platform to industry, like no other trade show. The awards are judged according to four categories: Furniture, Furnishing Accessories, Fabrics and Surfaces. Shortlisted from 150 entries, a list of all the finalists including Clea can be found here.
 
On the INTERIORS UK facebook page you can vote by liking your favourite designer. You can vote for any of the nominees but of course we would love your support for Clea! Vote here.

 

And not to give a sales pitch, you can find Clea's shortlisted collection online to buy now, a design classic in the making, we think so!