This week New Designers took place at London’s Business Design Centre now in its 31st edition. The UK’s most important exhibition for emerging design is split into two parts. Part 1 focuses on textiles, jewellery, ceramics and glass and contemporary crafts. Part 2 is slanted towards product and industrial design, graphics, illustration and animation.
Designers who have completed their undergraduate and postgraduate degrees exhibit their work representing their university. A breadth of specialisms and talents are on display exhibiting high levels of originality, innovation and craftsmanship. Here is a round up of our favourite pieces as well as some of the trends which caught my eye.
First is Bath Spa graduate and Texprint 2016 finalist Lydia Knight. Inspired by botanicals, plants and flora she creates beautiful prints developed from exquisite hand drawn illustrations and paintings. I was attracted to her artworks which have then been developed in repeat using digital print techniques. Her designs could easily be adapted in the commercial interior and home furnishings sector; specifically wallpaper or the bedlinen market.
Fellow Bath Spa graduate is Rhian Beynon whose stunning paintings have been developed digitally. What I liked most about her collection, was her preference to display both the digital fabrics and a large scale painting (right) which would look beautiful as a bespoke artwork. The details and colours have been translated wonderfully into her repeated designs, again highly suitable for the commercial interiors sector.
One of the themes I noticed at the exhibition was ‘pleating’. This covered various disciplines including weave, knit and print. Catherine Kinsbury-Smith of Herriot Watt University uses iridescent yarns within the knitted fabrics.
As the light shines depending on the time of day, the 3D illusion is emphasised. Likewise Glasgow School of Art graduate Rochelle McGuiness; the sharp lines and iridescent surfaces of her collection entitled ‘Distorting Perception of Depth’ allows the pieces to take on the colour of their surroundings and vary depending on the viewers standpoint. I particularly like the projection of her designs when used for lighting.
‘Folded Nature’ by Loughborough Textile Innovation & Design graduate Lauren Saunders explores a three-dimensional, structured aesthetic for fashion. Taking inspiration from natural forms she combines a variety of fabric manipulation methods including ‘heat forming’. Enabling the fabrics to not only demonstrate functionality as they become flexible in response to the body, but also remain visually appealing. Although intended for the high end/haute couture fashion market, her designs could also be considered in other contexts such as an architectural installation.
Continuing with the theme of optical illusion, a number of new designers exhibiting represented this trend in the form of printed textiles. I’ve selected the work of graduate Stefan Volder for simple yet very effect designs. His menswear collection entitled ‘Concrete Nostalgia’ took inspiration from post-war modernist architecture in Scotland.
Anna Helgesson‘s work, from first time exhibitors Swedish School of Textiles the University of Boras (winners of the award for Best Stand); particularly stood out to me for its simple and striking primary coloured designs providing a clever optical illusion. It reminded me of the work by Japanese design studio A.P.Works. I really enjoyed all the Swedish School of Textiles’ graduates use of scale including the collection (UN)PERFECT – ‘Breaking the rules in textile printing’ by Lisa Fredin (left). These particular pieces I think would work well as drapes for windows or room divides as light can still be passed through whilst offering privacy.
Talking of large scale work, to be admired is the work of Katherine Plumb. The printer from Central St Martins takes inspiration from purpose built landscapes which are then developed into cut-paper collages and large scale prints destined for interiors. The quirky pegs used to display the fabrics are also playful and really suit the fun and bold colour palette.
One Year On is a feature of the show that presents selected designers in their first year of business. Chosen by an independent panel they are selected based on their flair and quality of product. All work exhibited can be bought or commissioned directly from the designers at the show. Favourites of included Aimee Bollu, a member of the Crafts Council’s Hot House programme, Aimee seeks out objects that have fallen out of use and aims to bring them back to life. Combining found objects which may be viewed as conventional and mundane she adds newly created simple vessel forms offering the viewer something familiar yet fresh. With a subtle and contemporary palette, splashes of bright, the vessels can be viewed as a collection or as individual objects.
Well that’s it for the Part One report, I had a great time and highly recommend the exhibition as a great day out, a wonderful way in which to discover new talent and of course, a great place to buy some exquisite and unique pieces.
Let us know what your opinion is about what you’ve just seen and if we’ve persuaded you to go next year………