This year saw the 30th anniversary of New Designers – a milestone for the show and the design industry, however, coming at a time when design education is suffering. Given High Wycombe’s creative heritage (Ercol, Robin Day, BCFA), the decision by Bucks New university to axe its furniture course is a baffling decision, but one that is sadly now common from secondary education up. Design is massively important to our country’s growth and economic success, but a tipping point is coming as the foundations of the creative industry continue to erode.
This year, the Bucks New University furniture course produced 3 award winners, including Jacob Underwood with his Fiero Stacking Chairs.
Underwood was awarded the BCFA Award for his work which was designed as a modern-day stackable dining chair suitable for production in ercol's factory in Princes Risborough (below left). Judges commented that there was a ‘Good contemporary interpretation of traditional Ercol values for modern living….[and that they]…were impressed by the consideration given to every detail.’ They also added that they were ‘keen to express their dismay at the imminent closure of the Bucks New University Furniture Design course. This is a course with historically significant connections to the British contract furniture industry which are so clearly evident in the New Designers exhibition this year’.
Other award winners at the show included Oliver Priest from Nottingham Trent. Priest was the winner of The CEP Student Prize, which is awarded annually to a final year student on each of the design courses within the CSD Course Endorsement Programme (CEP). The programme was developed to differentiate and support those courses which clearly prepare students to confidently embark on a career in design and to practice to the highest professional standards. Projects by Oliver Priest included his ‘Shaker’ style (above, centre) hand crafted chair prototype, constructed using both seasoned and green timber and drawing upon traditional joining methods, and the ‘Swing’ Lamp. A modernist inspired floor standing, living space or office task light with a Frame constructed using stainless steel, the Swing Lamp features a moveable aluminium ball and socket joint. (above, right) This allows the light to be adjusted fluidly and will rest in balance wherever you place it. Arguably, there is something very Memphis about this light (See Milan 2014 highlights blogpost), which Jack Benn-Woolley also emulates in his HOST furniture. Designed to tackle the growing issue of living in increasingly smaller spaces, the debut lounge furniture range from HOST furniture sets out to both aid and encourage users to entertain guests in small spaces. The design is made up of three components; a coffee table, stools that can provide seating or act as footrests and side tables that provide additional surfaces when entertaining. All components are housed within the footprint of the coffee table when not in use and therefore take up no additional space in the lounge. (below right)
The winner of one year on was Robyn Hinchcliffe, a London-based textile product designer specialising in knitted textiles for the home. After moving from Manchester to complete her degree in Textile Design; Robyn worked towards setting up her own studio practice and began developing a new textile product range. By challenging the more traditional aesthetics of knit, Robyn combines machine knitting and hand weaving techniques to create supple and inviting textiles for the home with a playful depth of pattern and texture. (Left)
Rebecca Chan’s Poetry In Design range of stools also appeared very tactile in nature, with materials such as MDF, plastic, paper and yarn. Chan’s designs aim to provoke and stimulate different emotions through the use of various materials, whilst also questioning what seating should look like. (below)
Matt Oakley’s Coral Seat, from the White Matter collection which recently won the Cubify 2015 design challenge, reflects a conceptual and innovative approach to the possibilities of 3D printing on a grandiose scale. 'The illusionary design blurs the lines between high artistry and mass manufactured aesthetics, whilst performing as a social commentary towards aspects of fragility and instability'. (below)
Alex Bodley mixes stone with other materials to create the industrial Strata light. It’s concept is inspired by the layers of age found in the circular patterns of a tree stump and fuses three ‘generations’ of manufacturing; stone carving, wooden carpentry and modern 3D printing. (first image below)
Natalie Gartside’s Nimbus pendant light can be made no other way than by 3D printing. It plays with the complexity of nature with swirling and interlocking abstractions of cloud formations. (below - second down and bottom left)
Laura Elliot’s Foam Pendant Light is inspired by the ocean and erosion; a phenomenon of the natural world. The integrated roller bearing mechanism is dynamic in that it allows the user to change the layers of shadows and bring new ones into focus. Made from ABS plastic. (bottom row, second and third image)
Fleur by Rebecca Donaghy is a delicate modular LED light feature inspired by climbing flowers, also made with 3D printing. (below - last image)
Bodley, Gartside, Elliott and Donaghy make up the Bloom Lighting Co, a collaboration of product design students from the University of Lincoln who have fused nature and 3D printing technology to create a lighting collection.
Byron Coleman’s Ryse Coffee Table, also made from 3D printed ABS, and part of the collection that won the Cubify 2015 design challenge, uses four unique fractals as captivating features at the top of each leg. This mixed media table highlights the role of 3D printing to construct elaborate componentry for larger pieces, thereby elevating simple, mundane objects. The great complexity of the high-finish ABS prints is juxtaposed by a minimal and relaxed table design. (Below)
Angular legs were evident in most works seen at the show, including Anna Benson’s contemporary take on a traditional bureau suitable for today’s compact living - Meraki. The cabinet features a drop down door revealing a spacious work area, equipped with power sockets to make it laptop and gadget friendly. The front features a laser etched pattern that the user can select from a range of different designs, adding a more personal feel to the piece. (below left)
Priest also followed this trend, along with Marc Wood and his Click Lamp, which combined wood and brass, as seen at Milan last year, a key influence in this years show. Click Lamp has an oak base and stand, grey braided flex and spun metal shade with options including copper, brass and aluminium. With a simple clean aesthetic, the lamp is designed with cost efficient, commercial manufacturing in mind. The stand has an internal pivot allowing the shade to ‘click’ into different height adjustments. (Above right)
Christina tong’s private barstool (above, left), a reassuring and secure seating for lone diners, can be seen as a comment on today’s society. It makes clever use of space in the same way that Hannah Wollard’s Ulla bureau acts as aesthetically pleasing storage, with a fold down desk. (above, right)
Structural and industrial almost, Connor Holland’s Lilo Bench is made from Steel & Concrete that has been hydro-formed manufactured using a domestic Jet Wash. (below)
Overall, there appears to be a high instance of 3D printing being used to part or entirely produce objects, and the same bare, monochrome colours with amber highlights were seen throughout the show. For instance in Sam Bellamy range of pendant lighting range inspired by traditional Moroccan lighting. Here, the warmth of the vintage bulb radiates through the intricately perforated metal, and the detailed filament creates a fissure of light, celebrating the iconic Moroccan shadow patterns. (below right) Saying this, Rachael Bull added a splash of colour to the event with her painted floral scenes – shown here is Secret Garden (below left).
At The Form Emporium, we will keep our fingers crossed that not only are creative professions able to continue to flourish and showcase at events such as these, but that education will be left intact to provide designers and engineers to support and grow the industry.