Britain’s brightest new design graduates are arriving in Islington for the annual New Designers show which opens tonight. Head straight for the balcony to One Year On — it’s a cracker this year —showcasing recently qualified designers who are already up and running with their own businesses.
Their delectable goods on the market range from bowls turned from New Forest timbers to inky prints on silvery aluminium. Catch this talent while you can — you may not be able to afford their work later.
Surprisingly, though these fledgling entrepreneurs call on the very latest digital technologies, craft is their passion. They do digital when it’s opportune, but increasingly want to make by hand. Curating One Year On for the second year, Rheanna Lingham, who runs Shoreditch boutique, Luna & Curious, says: “I’m seeing so many pieces that demand immense time and skill.”
Rachel Howarth, 25, a top textile graduate from Heriot-Watt University in the Scottish Borders, oozes ambition. “I want to build my own brand,” she says. “But breaking into the design industry has been difficult.” Nevertheless her exquisite cushions are on sale at £75 each — hand-dyed and screen-printed in silk and wool. Her newest venture is “aluminium art”, with digitally printed panels.
Also in textiles is Rowenna Mason, whose closely woven fabric has neat geometric motifs made into elegant piped cushions.
Abigail Booth and Max Bainbridge met at Chelsea College of Art and Design and are now partners in life and work, building a studio for themselves in the garden at their Walthamstow terrace home. Now their young enterprise Forest + Found is dedicated to traditional craft. Bainbridge forages for wood in Epping Forest, making turned vessels, spoons and so on. Booth has nurtured natural dyes for her hand-stitched quilts and cushions. Their work has a quiet restraint, and is selling well, at prices from around £35 for a small bowl.
Joel and Helena Haran, 22 and 23, are married and trading as Studio Haran, based in small workshop on a farm near Falmouth University, where they graduated in sustainable design last summer. An extensive debut range of furniture is called Elemental, with dining table, stool, chair and bench, and lights. “We aim for a simple, timeless aesthetic and quality craftsmanship, using British timber.”
Charles Dedman is 25 and a committed woodworker. His degree in design at Kingston was followed by a course in furniture making at Chichester College, “and I fell in love with fine craftsmanship and timber expertise.” Now he is adding evening classes in computer-aided design.
Dedman shares a workshop with two others at Emsworth on the south coast in Hampshire. His approach is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, depending on careful making and fine detail. But his career is dynamic. A range for the respected company, Sitting Firm, is going into batch production. And he’s developing “craft-tech” which will marry computerised machinery with woodturning, steam-bending and marquetry.
Jacky Puzey is more overtly “digital” and her work is extremely striking. Her animated and highly textured embroideries feature hares, wild dogs and birds of prey in vivid shades. She has invested in a very large digital embroidery machine which can turn her hand-fashioned artwork into intricate assemblies of contrasting thread and stitch, often on cotton organza with a near-transparent background. The textiles are mounted as screens, for example, or used for drapes, or fashion trimmings.
In ceramics, Chichester-based Hannah Tounsend softens her vessels with printed arty abstract motifs inspired by Britain’s coast, while Oscar Copping uses kiln fire to pattern his robust pots, and Scott Carter Wilson adds carved textures to hand-built forms.
Aimee Bollu garners “found objects” — knobs, nuts, bolts, thread — and melds them with clay for quirky jars and jugs. In contrast, silversmith and jeweller Emma-Jane Rule makes striking “pleated” metal pieces.
New Designers, at Business Design Centre, Upper Street, N1, is a must-visit if you plan a career in design. Part one, open to the public from tomorrow until Sunday, includes ceramics and glass, precious metals, textiles, and contemporary craft, plus fashion. Part two, from July 7 to July 10, includes furniture and product design. Tickets start at £7.50 for a Thursday “late” admission in advance, but it’s £11.50 on the door. A day ticket is £12 in advance, £18 on the door. Show this page and get 25 per cent off tickets at the door. Check out #ND16 on twitter/instagram.