Sunday, 30 June 2013

We Found Love in New Designers

It's no secret that I am a big fan of New Designers. I'm admittedly a bit biased, but in my opinion it is the biggest, most eclectic, exhilarating and frankly underrated design degree show in the UK - and as it's summer, there's no shortage of them to explore right now.

The best thing about New Designers is that there really is something for everyone and no two sights are ever exactly alike. For me textiles this year was particularly memorable - we're seeing boundaries pushed with experimental, unconventional materials, cutting-edge techniques and diverse outcomes, from fashion, interiors and furnishing fabrics to sculptural and conceptual surfaces. Interestingly the line between mediums seems to be increasingly dissolved; for example, clay as a form of textile, either as repeated compositions or inserted components.  Who knows? Maybe literally putting on your best china (check out Li Xiao Feng's ceramic couture here) isn't too impractical after all.

The 5 New Textile Talents to Know

Aisling Duffy (Edinburgh College of Art)

Aisling Duffy
Creating crazy coloured digitally-printed fabrics, 3D-embroidered and charmingly childish ceramic accessories, Duffy works in mysterious layers that reveal the private/public aspects of our lives. Her work has that infectious, slightly psychedelic 'happy effect' much like Meadham Kirchoff (which she counts as inspiration), Ashley Williams and Sophia Webster which is trendy and highly marketable right now.

Emily Plumbly (Norwich University of Arts)

Emily Plumbly
Plumbly is a mixed-media print artist who constructs intricate, fabric-like sculptures using a heated 3D textile medium that feel as intriguing to the touch as it does to the eye. A simple yet painstaking technique that creates unsuspecting, unique and experimental effects - her white spiderweb-like pieces have an ethereal allure and organic growth about them which distinguishes her work from the crowd.

Ellys Beale (Loughborough University)

Ellys Beale
Ellys Beale's fierce wolf and graphic Aztec fashion prints caught my eye in an instant. With a discerning eye for detail (her pieces would make stunning editorials) and high-profile placements with Mary Katrantzou, Matthew Williamson and Diane Von Furstenberg under her belt, expect to find her pieces at a high-end designer boutique near you soon. 

'Amble'  by Harry Owen (Camberwell College of Arts)

Harry Owen's exquisitely North-London made 'Amble' leather collection epitomises what contemporary English craftsmanship is about - lovingly handmade, ethically sourced, one-of-a-kind pieces that only get better with age. Crated using rare English Oak Tanned leather from Devon (which feels and smells lovely in case you're wondering), leather accessories such as this gorgeous backpack are timelessly elegant and practical.

Si Chen (Nottingham Trent University)

Si Chen
Chinese MA Textile Design Innovation graduate Si Chen shows us why minimalism is the design trend of 2013- subtle prints and simple shapes can be as powerful as loud colours, frills and patterns. Her inter-disciplined practice encompasses coordinated woven print garments, jewellery and prints as shown here. Titled 'Reflection of Shadows' the pale pink and monochrome geometric prints are based on fabric swatches created by the artist.

On the whole New Designers Part 1. was noticeably less chaotic and stripped back compared to previous years - welcome news to returning visitors (which you probably will be after your first). Gone are the unnecessary and eco-unfriendly printed maps, plus the layout was easier to navigate with more immersive multimedia displays rather than stands where you have to complete a 360 circle (If you're a student and think they're the best way to showcase the fruits of your three-year labour, they're not. They just leave visitors disorientated and make your work impossible to differentiate from the textile stands beside you, especially if you work in print). 

If you enjoyed this post, look out for the upcoming feature on New Designers' ceramicists.

New Designers Part 2 (focusing on visual communication, industrial and spatial design), opens July 3 - 6. 

(All images taken with permission of artist by me unless specified otherwise)

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