The New Designers show in London brought to our attention a wealth of potential antiques of the future
The New Designers showcase in Islington, London, was busy with creative talent. For three days, the Business Design Centre was humming with the eager voices of new graduates explaining their products to milling design enthusiasts.
John Lewis had already been around by the time we got there and the fairly prolific smattering of placards reading ‘John Lewis loves…’ was testament to the high standard of design (and the likelihood that you will soon be seeing some of these designs on a high street near you).
With an eye out for antiques of the future, here’s a run down of the designers we have tipped for the top…
The One Year On area of the show hosted 60 designers who have already caused a stir after only a year in the industry.
We were particularly taken with Angie Parker’s woven neon upholstery (above). We first spotted Angie at the Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey so weren’t surprised to see her eye-catchingly bright designs at New Designers. She’s currently busy working on a new range of rugs for Spring 2015 to add to her stunning array of chairs.
Her friend, and fellow Bristolian, Anna Gravelle is a textile designer who has resurrected the art of tufting. Last seen on bedspreads in the 1970s, Anna has brought the technique up to date by dipping the ends of the tufts in contrasting colours or by working with (very) bright coloured wools. Her square footstools would make a cosy design statement come winter.
Of the more recent graduates exhibiting, we couldn’t help noticing Michael Hannaford’s ingenious coat rack. It’s designed to fit neatly against a wall in narrow hallways that wouldn’t be able to fit a conventional round stand. With five pegs and space for umbrellas at the bottom, it’s not a huge surprise that John Lewis have already spotted its potential.
A lovely piece combining tradition with new design was John Thomson’s chair on the University of Dundee stand. Called ‘The Hebridean Storyteller’, it is upholstered in Harris Tweed and aims to be a celebration of the traditions and landscapes of the Outer Hebrides.
Sarah Kirby was really on the Decorative Arts course at Nottingham Trent University but snuck onto the Furniture Design course stand thanks to a standout ‘Otto’ seat-come-storage box. It was handmade using walnut wood (which Sarah likes for its colour and durability) and decorated with screen printed designs inspired by the shapes she came across walking in Sherwood Forest.
Tucked away in the South Devon College area, we were distracted by the Mediterranean appeal of Charles Conreur’s terracotta carafes. A man with a canny head on his shoulders, he had to spend a good amount of time researching wine serving in order to achieve effective shapes. The ridges at the bottom of his carafes break down the molecules in young wine faster allowing the aromas to be released. The blue was inspired by the sea off Formentera, an island near the Spanish coast, and the gold lustre came from a story he heard about its origin. ‘Lustre was originally used so that you could see a plate in candlelight,’ he explained.
Natalie Ratcliffe’s woodland flower prints were another design to catch our eye. Natalie only recently graduated but the ever-vigilant team at John Lewis has already snapped up some of her art prints to adorn a cushion range this autumn. We think young Natalie, who photocopies bunches of woodland flowers, then digitally works up the images, is a talent to watch. We were particularly taken with her upholstered footstool (above) - which she printed by pressing flowers and leaves dipped in ink against the fabric – and by her pretty, but slightly melancholic wallpaper with its roughshod wild flower bunches.
Shelley Doolan’s amazing glasswork (above) looked far too accomplished for someone setting out on their career and sure enough it turned out that Shelley is an experienced designer-maker who has just completed a PhD. The glass artist, who is stocked by the Studio Glass Gallery in Mayfair, honed some cutting edge glass-working techniques during her course at Swansea including waterjet cutting and using ceramic moulds to cast glass. The affects were surprising and remarkable.
Lastly we couldn’t resist these adorable wooden animals (above) by Kerry Foulger, a graduate from York St John University. Not only are they design-savvy and cute but they serve a worthwhile purpose. Kerry has designed them with gentle, curving shapes and open, smiley faces to especially be enjoyed by autistic children.
New Designers 2014. 020 7288 6738; newdesigners.com