PART 1: TEXTILES, FASHION, JEWELLERY, METALWORK & GLASS
Held at The Business Design Centre, Islington, London, and now in its 27th year, the New Designers Show has 3,500 graduating designers from 200 colleges presenting their creative output. This show is seen as an important showcase for the UK’s most talented new designers to demonstrate their best work to prospective employers, buyers and studios. New Designers is an essential resource for all who attend and an invaluable springboard for all who exhibit.
We love the show and so last week set off to search out and meet the designers with a sustainable backstory to their designs – we found a number of terrific examples.
Ben Esthop uses cracked wood and off-cuts, which would otherwise go to waste. Instead he crafts the pieces into things of beauty, with a classic simplicity that allows for a lifetime of wear.
His appreciation of Japanese art is evident in his work and his plans are to study with a Urushi master. Japanese philosophies include the indivisibility of aesthetics and utility, respect for their chosen material and its place in the natural world.
Multi-life is a series of interior textiles, which can be adapted to a variety of functions. Made from reclaimed materials, the looped textile structure allows the pieces to be manipulated and linked together with simple attachments to create various user-defined forms.
Sophie’s aim is to push the limits of what textiles can be. She’s inspired by structure, sustainability and how consumers inter-relate with the products around them.
Alexander creates stunning art pieces of recast metal and hand-blown glass. The metal he uses is scrap and as much of the glass as possible is recycled too. The tension of the work is palpable, watery glass bubbles are stabbed with stakes, as if they’ll burst any moment. Now he’s thinking big-scale, with plans to develop sculptural features for interiors.
Award winning paper artist Bekx Stephens works with recycled paper to create fabulously complex decorative forms. The paper is intricately folded and secured with over-locking stitch, which enhances the repetitive pattern of the folds. She draws inspiration from the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi, which represents concepts of traditional Japanese beauty and the values of simplicity, freshness and understated elegance.
For Chloe textiles are a medium for communication. She has worked collaboratively with women in Manchester, Kosovo and India, using embroidery as a tool to empower them through design. Her current projects concentrate on the migration of birds as an artistic representation of the displacement of refugees and asylum seekers.
Robyn describes herself as a designer-maker of non-precious jewellery, but we beg to differ. Her work is quirky, sustainable and beautiful. She has a knack of unearthing splendour in the things the rest of us might call rubbish. Old CDs are re-mastered, with delicate pattern, to enhance the lustre and iridescence.
Robyn likes to surprise people and give them a fresh view on things, letting them see that non-precious materials can become more treasurable, depending on what you do with them.
Catherine’s collection is a synergy of natural objects and fibres. Gritty textures in contrast with smooth sea worn pebbles are translated to fabrics. She’s recently been commissioned by Heriot-Watt University to develop site-specific interior details, for the Scottish Borders campus new halls of residence, liaising with interior designers.
Hannah has a unique style derived from recycled offcuts. Her work is textural, with lots of incorporated fringing, plus a clever technique called ‘needle punching’, where recycled fabrics are merged into knitting, to create subtle distressed patterns.
Maho Takahashi is a London based Japanese jewellery designer-maker specializing in one-off pieces of wearable art. She pushes the boundaries of jewellery and during her final year at university cut off her very long hair, which she used as her inspiration. The collection mourns the loss of herself with long hair, but at the same time it celebrates the hair’s beauty and its potential as a material. Using hair in her work has become somewhat of a trademark and she is continuing to explore the possibilities.
When we met Joanna we were immediately inspired by her passion and dedicated approach. Gold mining is known to cause extensive ecological destruction and human rights violations and because of this Joanna decided that she wanted to do business differently and so began looking into ethical alternatives within the jewellery industry. What this means in practical terms is that she uses precious metals and gemstones that are sourced from either a transparent and traceable conflict-free supply chain, or are recycled materials. She is also in the process of obtaining a licence to use Fairtrade, Fairmined gold from the Fairtrade Foundation.
In future Joanna would love to be able to make her workshop (and home) carbon neutral, but in the meantime does as much as she can to ensure that her approach is sustainable. And, aside from all that, her jewellery’s gorgeous!
Look out for our article featuring Joanna’s full story, coming soon.
Holly specialises in weaving and has developed skills using various looms to create innovative textiles. Through this she’s also acquired an appreciation of pattern, colour and texture and combines them in layers, to amazing effect, onto a base of recycled garments.