Graduate shows and talent competitions have become increasingly instrumental in the launch of a fledgling designer’s career. Last night's ceremony celebrating the first week of New Designers Awards at the Business Design Centre in Islington proved no exception.
Judges gathered to hand out 13 New Designers awards to the design graduates they deemed most promising. From candlesticks and wallpapers to ceramics and cloth pieces, the standard of work was typically high. After all, let's not forget that New Designers is the graduate show renowned for launching the careers of Ella Doran, Thomas Heatherick and Matthew Williamson.
Who are the stars of tomorrow? Great hope is being pinned onto Louise Tiler, a graduate from Leeds College of Art & Design, who won the BDC New Designer of the Year Part 1. Tiler is a young surface pattern designer who produces the most intricate of hand drawn patterns and prints featuring birds and flowers. ‘I love exploring drawing, scale, mark making and placemat, and combining this on the computer using Photoshop and Illustrator,' says the young artist. 'I enjoy transforming hand drawn imagery into a digital media.’ Isobel Dennis, New Designers show director, said, ‘Her work is beautifully drawn and it hangs together as a strong body of work. She fulfils all the criteria in that she is passionate and driven; has a real understanding of her direction and we felt will benefit from all the professional aspects of the award.’ This was not the first time that Tiler has been heralded as a creative success. She was the Grand Prize Winner of Design X (Surtex) and also won International Student Competition 2011, Tigerprint online competition 2010 and 1st prize at the Bradford Textiles Competition.
Yet, the night really belonged to one particular designer who scooped up, not one, but three accolades to take home. Jill Shaddock, who studied Three Dimensional Design at Manchester School of Art had created a range of tableware, featuring a sushi set and a sugar stirrer. Each ceramic object was created using her trademark technique. ‘By manipulating the normal methods of slipcasting, using a layering technique, I create unique objects that elevate a process normally associated with mass production.’ Says Shaddock, ‘My methods of using body stains and firing the ceramic to a high temperature, means the vessels I create are both aesthetical and functional.’ Her earthy collection is a serene palette of blues, greys and neutral tones enhanced with a dash of yellow. She won two awards – the Habitat Innovation Award and the Pulse Award and was also recognised as the Runner Up for the BDC New Designer of the Year. ‘We were impressed by Jill’s attention to detail, simplicity of form and a focus on keeping a high finish,' said the BDC judges justifying their decision. 'We were also fascinated by the way she incorporated the working process into the surface decoration.’
The New Designers Harlequin Award went to Sam Fenn-Johnson from Herriot Watt University for her digital prints inspired by the architecture of Vortism and post war. Meanwhile, Bryony Jackson from Bucks New University won the New Designer Goldsmiths' Company Silversmithing Award for her elongated candlesticks that are inspired by the concept of movement. Henrietta Scholes of Bath School of Art and Design won the New Designers Graham & Brown Award. Scholes created a 'new lace' by playing with the qualities of light, transparency and the layering of white on white surfaces. Laura Daley won the New Designers British Contract Furnishing Association Award for her innovative cloth pieces that imitate London hotspots.
‘As always the judges are overwhelmed by how much talent there is and wonder how they are going to make a decision,' remarked Dennis. 'They commented on how strong contemporary applied arts is this year. There was a sense the overall standard of presentation is more professional and polished. I never tire of New Designers – it never fails to uplift, inspire and excite me. The spirit and expectations of the graduates is palpable.’
Prizes from last night's awards ceremony include work placements, showcase opportunities, financial rewards and valuable industry-wide recognition. It is no wonder such graduate shows have become instrumental to the launch of a fledgling designer's career.