The current focus on We Heart is on British Design, in celebration of the Olympics, and where better to find the future of British Design, than at “the UK’s most important graduate exhibition” (if they do say so themselves!), New Designers.
I love meeting design graduates and I love seeing their work. It is… hopeful – unencumbered by experience and cynicism.
I love talking to these confident young people, who largely want to work for themselves – something I would never have had the courage to even consider at their age.
I love their approach to working together – it’s about collaboration not competition. One young man drew my attention to a fellow student’s award-winning work, without even mentioning his own rather fine contribution to the stand.
I met an enterprising group of students who had funded the entire venture themselves, even creating a printed publication to accompany their stand; realising not only the importance of storytelling, but also that their university might not have a trade show budget, but they did have an advertising budget!
Generation Y are much maligned, but the students I meet constantly blow me away with their determination, their optimism and their ideas. Here are my top five:
Zoe Tynan-Campbell’s Weekday is a really simple solution to a common problem. In her words “What I wore today, what to wear tomorrow? And the next day? For the fashion blogger, the forgetful, or those who alphabetise and categorise just about everything.” I saw far more complicated and expensive solutions to the modern woman’s problem of just what to wear, and I delighted in the simplicity, likely effectiveness, and if I’m completely honest, the geekiness – of this one.
Henry Williams’ Arc Table and Chair were representative of a real return to natural materials and reassuring form, evident across much of the work at New Designers. Exploiting the unique characteristics of British wood, whilst his work is clearly inspired by the likes of Tom Raffield and Frank Gehry, he has his own take on steam bent wood and has created something comforting for these troubled times.
I’m not usually a fan of more ethereal design – I like “stuff,” but Rowan Allen’s little boats really captured my imagination. Named “Let Go” the idea is that you write down your worries on a piece of paper, fold it into a boat, and release it onto the water, setting both boat and worries free. I like it.
Without doubt the most innovative thing I saw was Simon Lock-Wheaton’s Pop On Lights. He has created ink that conducts electricity – so you can literally draw a circuit, add light bulbs and you’re away. I can see endless creative possibilities for interior lighting schemes, but perhaps more importantly for education. What a fantastic idea.
And finally, Matthew Cox created an innovative, beautiful and incredibly comfortable chair that I am just in love with.