Monday, 9 July 2012

REthinking NEW DESIGNERS 2012

This years ‘New Designers’ showcase marks its 27th year of successfully bringing together education, private and public enterprises and launching the careers of many young designers. For all involved this is an eagerly anticipated event. This year there were 3,500 graduating ‘New Designers’ exhibiting, it is an essential resource for all who attend and an invaluable launchpad for all who exhibit. It offers insightful and original works, some of which are commercial concepts prime for further development prior to licensing  out to industry, others are market ready and self produced by individuals and small teams of designer-makers and then there are those which have very little purposeful intent and are there merely to evoke reaction. A useful marketing technique for the designer but one does have to question the end value of their creative input in real terms. This year we sent down our intern from Northumbria University Rosie Mossey to give us some insight as to what the emerging cohort of innovators were thinking.... As supporters of students designers and graduates alike we thought it would be interesting to get her take on the generation of designers she sits within, heres what she thought....

"This year I was instantly captivated by  ‘The Worlds Premier Live Art Battle’, ‘Secret Walls Pro Series’ which was a live show offering the chance for New illustration and design graduates to battle it out against top industry creatives showcasing their visual communication skills, an effective way to market their abilities in front of a live audience and judges.  Both teams equipped with just a black marker, blank canvas, imagination and skill. Every stroke counts, precision skill and quick thinking were bubbling to the surface for this contest and it certainly made for an exciting encounter upon first entering the halls."

 "There were a lot of thought provoking pieces of physical design work that veered away from the being commercially viable and leaned more towards an art-form, demonstrating a depth and understanding of a humanistic or environmental issue. Many were designed with the aim of sparking debate and stimulate thought and discussion. An example of this was the ‘Doom Stool’ designed by Varpu Laakkonen. This unique take on construction highlights a prominent issue of toy over-consumption (his research indicated that young children play with just 12 of an average 235 toys at their daily disposal). The outcome used to evoke the point was striking, it gives the abandoned toys, a more sustainable future in the home through reconstituting the materials into a new item of furniture for everyday use.
"Ben Sharrat had hand crafted unique storage designs. The quality of craftmanship and thought process behind the work was very interesting. His products are based around the universe: atoms, forces and space-time. He was interested in the conjunction of science and the human psyche. Personally the idea although deep, was a bit toooooo complex and it wasn't really very obvious as to what his intentions were in terms of the concept he was trying to engage us with, having said that he was clearly engrossed by his subject matter and passionate about the inter connective elements in the world in which we exist"

 'Particles' - The object stores represents the human psyche 

'SpaceTime' - The object stored represents life

'Forces' - The object stored represents death

"The ‘Grow Old Series’ Designed by Merve Kahraman has resulted in a range of products that aim to create an emotional attachment between user and product. The designer touches on the fact that excessive consumerism is rife today, people continue to buy and throw away and don’t actually grow attached to products, I particularly liked her light that transforms and recreates itself, always changing promoting a relationship with the user. The heat of the bulb causes the wax move and slowly drip down, so it slowly changes overtime, then its taken out of the pot and the cycle is repeated engaging the user."

"Craig Barrow has designed a system for shaping wood  by lightning strikes. The idea of harnessing an unpredictable and dangerous moment of power is exciting, using nature and exploiting it for potential for design intervention. Provoking questions over the interactions we share with the ever changing world around us."

"Daniel Gaze has re-designed the clock mechanism, it lends fits functionality from remote control aeroplanes. The sections of the numbers move backwards and forwards to reveal the time. Gaze has made it so that the time isnt glaring at you on a daily basis and it is just a subtle framework for how we lead our days structured by time. I really liked it, after Daniel explained the complex electronics I really appreciated the clean and simple design, its quite impressive when its moves aswell, its like its morphing!" 

"‘Maxi’ is a bedside light that Roselle Lam has designed. Sometimes no matter how tired I am I still find time to mindlessly procrastinate sleep either i’m on my phone, laptop or reading. This light is on for 30 minutes at a time and automatically switches itself of alerting your attention to turn it on again, reminding you that time is passing (and to go to sleep!). Also it acts as a shelf to lean your books against."

"A very topical subject amongst designers is re-using and refurbishing materials and trying give them a new lease of life so that they don’t become another addition to the ever growing landfill sites. Trying to be as eco-friendly as possible is the driving force behind a lot of designs in recent years and even still, today. Hayley Rose Burrows’ ‘Eco Frames’ are an example of this, she has found a way to manipulate food waste and create a range of photo frames" 

"Jason Lloyd Fletchers ‘The Third Generation Furniture’ range seeks to contribute to the ongoing dialogue about the re-use of consumer goods and cyclic consumption. The intelligent re-use of materials provides a beautiful solution. Third Generation Furniture products are designed or refurbished with standardized connective parts and sections allowing flexibility and variety in use and re-use over time so that the user an easily replace broken bits or reuse pieces when they are done with the item."

"One thing that disappointed me was the lack of  designers standing nearby ready to verbally represent their products, I found it hard to find any deeper information than that which was displayed infront of me on boards. Because  they are only communicating though standard format statements they are missing interacting with different professionals with varying motive for attending. This limits their ability to connect with different markets and enhance the possibilities for furthering their designs. I learnt at the Pulse trade show recently when assisting with the REthinkthings stand that conversation can really connect someone to the project and help to bring it to life. When I looked over my photos after the show, where I had met people I had a face to place with the product which made it more memorable and I think that can go a long way with people who are interested in your stuff. Having questioned the graduates I did meet on pricing and  commercial distribution it seems that many have yet to consider this prospect and don’t seem to have taken account of the bigger picture of their products potential. I find this very annoying because they have a great platform at New Designers and its really a missed opportunity to not be able to relay the most critical information."

"All in all there was certainly a great deal to see at New Designers. Its good to see how the future minds of design intend to enter the industry and I look forward to exhibiting there myself next year, I will certainly be ensuring my work has a direct application to assist me with launching a serious career in the design industry."