Designer-maker talent emerging at New Designers 2016
What a pleasure spending the best part of my day at the New Designers 2016 at the Business Design Centre in London.
With Teer & Co and handcrafted wood furniture front of mind I visited Part 2 and, on the whole, was very impressed with the general standards of design and workmanship on show. An abundance of talent and several real standout designer-maker students and furniture pieces demonstrating ‘special’ qualities.
Describing what that special thing is about a piece of furniture is difficult….what we see and feel is such a personal thing. For me with Teer & Co, it’s pared down simplicity and timeless elegance that I look for and feel makes a piece special. It’s the subtle twist, the attention to detail, the refined design aesthetic and the maturity-of-thought that keeps a piece restrained and quietly confident that I notice and admire.
New Designers is such an important show – it presents the opportunity to meet the most promising graduate talents from Britain’s leading design courses. Those of us in the business can establish contact with the new and emerging talent, hear their stories, their motivations and aspirations, and potentially support their journeys following graduation. So, to four New Designers that caught my eye this year…
Hannah Jayne presented her Perching Duo, a two-part Hallway piece, designed for storage purposes. A strong relationship between both pieces is represented through the use of materials and form. All legs and spindles are shaped in a traditional Ercol way giving a very elegant finish to the piece. The two rear legs are extended in length to create a subtle seat angle and to position the seat further away from items of clothes hanging above/behind.
Matthew Flower presented his ‘Suspension Series’ comprising a Shelving unit, Desk Light, a Floor Standing Light and wall mounted Coat Hooks all made using sustainable split bent wood held under tension to create strength in suspended structures. All products are collapsible and no glue or screws are required to put the furniture together – only the tension of the wood is needed to support and hold each piece together. Traditional skills, contemporary furniture making, unique, practical, functional and elegant aesthetics.
Michael Stevenson presented his Knock-Down Stool can be assembled in seconds and used as a permanent or occasional stool. The stool legs can be folded together for storage or totally de-constructed as easily as it is constructed using just a screw and bolt construction method, returning to its initial flat-pack form and requiring minimal storage space. A simple aesthetic, thoughtfully put together and beautifully made using a hand turned Ash top and legs made from a lamination of plywood.
Alexander Rose presented his Pianura Side Table (click the orange button in the centre bottom of the screen then scroll right) designed as a response to a brief from Ercol. The Pianura is centred on the classic, functional, elegant Ercol aesthetic, working with two essential Ercol processes, spindle turning and surface moulding. Though appearing constantly in stools and chairs, very little had been done in the way of surface moulding on tables at Ercol. Here it is used to create a sculpted Elm tray with a crisp, contemporary feel which contrasts with the traditionally turned beech spindle structure elevating it. This adds a sense of craft and delicacy to the object, whilst carrying the functional advantage of preventing items rolling or spilling over the edge.
I found speaking with the students about their future plans most enjoyable, and as expected, there was a mixed response. Some students seemed very clear and purposeful in looking to find employment of some kind in a related sector before they considered forging their own way in the world, and some students had aspirations to become the next Sebastian Cox and pursue the designer-maker career at the earliest opportunity following graduation. However, what surprised me somewhat was just how many students seemed really vague and unsure about what was next for them.
Which raises a question or two around the extent to which students are introduced to the real world, during their studies, to help them consider their futures. In this regard, One Year On was a useful feature set within New Designers to showcase over 60 specially selected emerging designers and makers in their first year of business.
Here I had arranged to meet Charlie Dedman to explore including his Turner Range (on Teer & Co), the inspiration for which comes from Scandinavian simplicity reinforced by traditional British techniques and craftsmanship. Charlie seems like quite a tenacious character who is exploring his options well - I wish him every success with his debut Turner Range.
I also met Rebecca Chan in One Year On. Her elegant Komorebi side table and coffee table range was inspired by observing the interplay between light and trees. The elegant yet subtle motifs on the tables aim to highlight the beautiful results that are created when two very ordinary things such as light and leaves are combined. Similarly, Rebecca’s ‘wind movement’ inspired Zephyr collection aims to highlight the understated beauty in nature.
So bringing this back to Teer & Co…
Craft and making is an important part of our present and future society, culture and economy, and New Designers presents Teer & Co with the opportunity to identify the emerging talent and support those that see themselves as furniture designer-makers in the future.
I believe that furniture and objects with genuine provenance and soul can really accentuate the quality of our home lives. By monitoring the emerging trends, supporting the movement towards authenticity, and by searching the market for talented designer-makers and new innovations, Teer & Co can shape a unique collection and bring into view often ‘limited visibility’ handmade furniture for those looking to give their home a unique aesthetic.
Whilst Teer & Co represents an appreciation of the finest authentically crafted contemporary furniture, owning Teer & Co furniture should not be viewed as an indulgence. Typically, 65% or more of the proceeds from every purchase made on Teer & Co is paid to the respective designer-makers, so your custom really means something. It supports the livelihoods of these gifted folk and enables the future of craft and making in the UK.