At long last, we got to celebrate New Designers in person again at Islington's Business Design Centre. Making it a return to remember, this year brought two weeks of great graduates to celebrate, with the first showcase taking place between Wednesday 29th June and Saturday 2nd July.
Each year, New Designers presents the work of 2,500 hand-picked graduate design talents from around the UK; the first week exhibited textiles, fashion, costume design, jewellery, precious metalworks, ceramics, glass, and contemporary design crafts, during which our three judges picked a shortlist of 11, to be in with a chance of winning the Conran Shop New Designers Award.
Chief Creative Officer Stephen Briars, Buying and Merchandising Director Henrietta Klug, and Buyer Charlotte Wright headed to the showcase on Wednesday 29th June in search of a design that demonstrates both growth potential within the design industry and reflects Sir Terence Conran's ethos, and plenty of such designs did they find.
The first, representing Arts University Plymouth, was the ceramics maker and teacher Lee Armitage, displaying his 'Slices of Time' collection, an ancient Greek ceramics-inspired series of vessel forms. De Montfort University's Mica Morris and Jamie Edwards also presented their best, the former a series of handmade clay vessels, and the latter a family of slip-cast mugs, which also caught our judging panel's attention.
Elsewhere, the Glasgow School of Art's Liz Willoughby turned her love for the sea into responsibly crafted jewellery, while the textile designer Joshua Andrew McCullough from the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design pulled on the heartstrings with 'Forgive Me Father,' a collection of narrative textiles that visualise states of mind to evoke discussion around mental health.
Continuing the theme of emotionally motivated design, the conceptual artist Belén Duarte of Morley College combined porcelain, black clay, and stoneware to present her 'La Familia' sculptures, inspired by the concept of love. The University of Brighton's master ceramicist Pip Hodson put forward her playful pottery for her very own Melm Studio. At the same time, The University of Hertfordshire's Binta Badji and Min Carter left their own marks on the craft, with the latter's spellbinding installation offering a heartfelt response to the lives of Indian indentured people.
Finally, at the Manchester School of Art's section, Ed Lee wowed us with his 'Situated Aesthetics' series; slipware items highlighting the beauty of wooden grains through controlled, unglazed forms, while his coursemate Bruno Schooling was crowned our New Designers Award winner for his wild clay and bone ceramics 'Ground' tableware, hailed for its intuitive and organic approach to bone china.