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New Designers 2022: Meet Tom Golland

We continue this year's New Designers celebrations with week two winner, Tom Golland of Kingston University, who talks us through his award-winning 'Metal in Marble' concept, inspirations, and ambitions.

1. Congratulations on winning the Conran Shop New Designers Award; how do you feel, and what does this award mean for your future and practice?

It was a very surreal but joyous feeling to receive the award. I am grateful and flattered to be associated with the Conran name and I think both the award and the opportunity to work with The Conran Shop will be extremely valuable to my future work.

2. Please tell us more about who you are and your project.

I am 22 years old, originally from the East Midlands and have just graduated from Kingston School of Art, with a degree in Product and Furniture Design.

My project 'Metal in Marble' explores the imitation of materials within design. Nowadays, it is possible to wrap a realistic image of anything onto a surface to imitate another material. This wasn't always the case; before today's technology, artists and designers would develop innovative solutions to reinterpret or imitate specific materials. In the case of this project, aluminium sheets are digitally printed with a halftone dot pattern, emulating marble. The appearance and physical properties of sheet aluminium are highlighted, and the material is not hidden or completely covered. The metallic surface reflects its surroundings, and the printed sheets can be manufactured into various forms using conventional fabrication processes. In addition, the aluminium can be easily recycled at the end of, hopefully, an extended product lifespan.

3. As to your work, who inspires it, and do you have a particular process that drives your craft?

Prior to my final year, I worked for six months as an intern for Chris Kabel, a design studio based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Observing the methods of working and being involved in various diverse design projects was incredibly valuable.

This past year, I have frequently found myself 'swiping' quickly through a random assortment of art, fashion, and design books in the library. I really enjoy this process which can see me arriving at something that inspires me, leading me to delve deeper into a topic. For other projects, it's far simpler. The inspiration for my second graduation project came from an obsessive observation of moving, refracting light on bodies of water. This, in itself, is a project also about imitation and reinterpretation. I am also physically experimenting with various materials and crude models, sometimes without a specific intention or application in mind. Throughout this process, I photograph and video many things, and find myself looking at my phone far more than a sketchbook. Whilst doing all this, ongoing discussion relating to concepts with friends and peers, and gaining their feedback and alternative points of view are beneficial and crucial to my work.

4. Are you familiar with the work we do at The Conran Shop and Sir Terence's legacy? If so, did it have any influence on your work?

Sir Terence Conran has had a massive impact on design as we see it today. Shaping people's attitudes towards design allows designers like me to practise what we enjoy. Over the past few years, I have been visiting the Conran Shop stores and the Design Museum here in London, both of which have influenced my creativity.

5. How important do you think something like New Designers is for emerging designers?

It is an essential bridge between education and the professional world. It is great to speak not only about your own work but the work of others as well and to receive feedback from industry members, as well as our peers. In addition, the talk and workshops can provide valuable commercial insights.

6. Looking around, did you see any emerging trends/shared concerns/materials with your fellow designers?

As expected, sustainability was a common concern in a range of work. Looking around, many seemed to focus on material choices and how these materials can be used efficiently and not used to excess.

7. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing emerging designers?

I think the initial step into the industry is the biggest challenge. Aside from creativity, the experience of exactly how the industry works can be daunting. Being naive and learning by making mistakes is one way to learn but can hopefully be avoided as much as possible.

8. What are your ambitions for the next five years?

Relating to my previous answer, one of my main ambitions is to learn and gain experience within the industry. I love working collaboratively with others, whether this is with clients, within teams or with friends, I hope to do far more of this.

In the more immediate future, I have many projects that I aim to continue with, keeping up the momentum following New Designers. One of these explores powder-coated finishing and its possibilities relating to art and design, which I am really excited to develop further.

9. What, in your opinion, makes a design timeless?

I think timeless design must hold sustained emotional value. There are multiple ways in which emotional longevity can be achieved, through aesthetic, narrative or the simple functionality of a design.

10. Lastly, which is your favourite piece of design history, and who is your best-loved designer?

It would be too difficult to choose a specific piece of history and a specific designer. That said, I could never tire of looking at works by Max Lamb and Gaetano Pesce. I admire both for their unconventional approaches to materials and processes.

Discover more about our involvement with New Designers, meet the other shortlisted talents from weeks one and two, and be sure to follow Tom on Instagram.