London's annual New Designers exhibition gives the public a chance to interact with the designers of tomorrow, bringing together graduates from the UK’s leading universities to showcase their products and make industry contacts. Innovative and inspirational, the two-part exhibition is an impressive display of creativity and playfulness. Part 1 features works by graduates from the Contemporary Applied Arts, Textiles, Fashion & Accessories, and Jewelry & Precious Metalwork degrees. CH visited the first part of the show to get a glimpse of what the future of UK design might hold, and below are five graduates whose work stood out in regard to a happy marriage of form and function.
Tilly Blue, of Falmouth University, used her degree in Contemporary Crafts to create The Travel Collection, three pieces of furniture that can be easily folded or disassembled and carried to adapt to the lifestyle of modern-day nomads: a table folds into a suitcase, a bed rolls up into a duffel bag, a chair and seat pillow transform into a backpack . The designs were inspired by man-made objects that blend in with nature—the pillow has an abstract pattern representing a beach and an ocean full of buoys. Blue's collection connects “traditional woodworking ideas with conceptual design,” creating a modern aesthetic with a reassuringly old-fashioned feel, reminiscent of camping trips and countryside adventures.
Staffordshire University’s Eva Radulova’s Single breakfast set addresses a contemporary dilemma—with so many single households, why are most crockery sets designed for two or more people? “Nowadays people are more independent,” she says. “I wanted to make a product for one person that would be special.” Her cups, pots, plate and bowls come in earthenware, bone china and black jasper, and have beautifully textured exteriors that contrast with the glazed insides for an interesting surface juxtaposition.
Styled on cardboard cutout models, Glasgow School of Art-designer Francesca Stride’s knitwear creations immediately caught our eye. The bright geometric patterns in striking color combinations stood out in a sea of florals, and the differing textures showcase Stride’s skills. Made on a v-bed knitting machine, the merino wool knits were inspired by Constructivist artist Varvara Stepanova, futurist Italian artist Tullio Crali and Japanese designer Issey Miyake, who would doubtlessly approve of the vibrant pleats.
Textile design graduate Samon Yechi of Bath Spa University chose to show an assured collection of bowls and lampshades made from plastic sheets. The polyurethane designs were created through merging different plastics, with the idea of upcycling the ubiquitous material into stylish, useful everyday items. The patterns of the bowls resemble traditional woven baskets, and the line has already caught the attention of department store John Lewis. Though the lightness and sturdiness of the material make the bowls perfect for kitchenware, “Most people want them to be decorative,” Yechi says.
After an accident on the slopes, Paula Fox, a Textile Design graduate at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, decided to create a unisex ski and snowboardwear collection in bright colors to promote safety and visibility. Her color-coded designs (green for beginner, blue for amateur and red for advanced) are meant to make it easier to spot less experienced skiers and snowboarders. Their intricate layered patterns with dark detailing have a cool graphic art-feel, while reflective stripes on the sleeves and back make add visibility.
Francesca Stride and the horizontal Paula Fox photos by Cajsa Lykke Carlson, other images courtesy of respective designers