Top: Northumbria university’s crafted interactive products; Bottom left: Leon lighting by Lewis Power; Bottom right: Kaelin Rose Newton’s CitySprout
This year’s New Designers show Part II was probably the best that I have been to in recent years. Overall the standard was very high, and I think it was more exciting than the DMY International design festival that I attended in Berlin a month ago. The show continues to affirm the outstanding design talents in the UK, and it is always exhilarating for me to see innovative designs that could change people’s lives for the better.
At Northumbria University, the merge of new technologies and traditional craft making resulted in a series of minimalist designs that are innovative, functional and aesthetically beautiful. One of the them is Kyle Abbott‘s ‘Touching Warmth’ – a personal heater which becomes active when picked up and stroked. The temperature of the object can mimic the warmth and comfort of body heat.
I also spoke to Tom Leslie, one of the two winners of the ‘John Lewis Loves’ awards from the group. His project ‘In Search of Atmosphere’ and the other winner, Lewis Power‘s ‘Leon’ both explore users’ experiences through their interaction with light and objects.
Top left: James Vanderpant‘s touch sensitive modular lighting ‘Helios’ won the Johnson Tiles Associate Prize; Top right: Bryn Burbidge’s ‘SeatLocky’; Bottom: Jaxon Pope/Selce Studio‘s ‘modular gas burners’.
At London South Bank University, there were also some intriguing display like ‘CitySprout‘ by Kaelin Rose Newton – an indoor hydroponic planting unit with removable modular sections and a water reservoir in the base. There are moisture sensors in both levels to ensure that the plants are watered autonomously. The design also functions as lighting, which is perfect for all modern city homes.
Another was ‘SeatLocky’ by Bryn Burbidge, winner of the New Designers Innovate – Helping Inventors Associate Prize at the show. Bryn told me that he came up with the design of ‘SeatLocky’ after his bike and bike seat were stolen. The bicycle locking device consists of 6 cnc’d aluminium hinges which lock together for insertion into the seat tube. It is an elegant looking device, and I hope it will be launched in the market soon.
Top left: George Riding’s The Wire Series table; 2nd row: George riding’s watering cans; 3rd row: Maddie Lamont‘s Jarrah; Bottom: Winter and Kurth’s ‘For What It’s Worth’
Winter and Kurth‘s ‘For What It’s Worth’ is a collection of work that debates the value we place on high design and craftsmanship and its perception as a status symbol. One of the pieces is an unique Marquetry table with graphite legs influenced by Junichiro Tanizaki’s essay In praise of shadows in which comparisons of light with darkness are used to contrast Western and Asian cultures. I love the subtlety of their designs and their precise craftsmanship, and I would like to see more thoughtful furniture like this in the market.
Top left: ‘KreisBoard’ by Lucas Freitas Santos; Top right: Joshua Akhtar’s ‘Baithive’; 2nd row: Conor Shimizu Moore’s ‘Artemis’; 3rd left: Jack Hubery’s ‘Experiments in Recycled Plastic’; 3rd right: Elspeth MacLeod’s ‘Mella’ beehive; Bottom: Josh James’s ‘Melt’
Sustainability and recyclability continue to be the key concerns in the design world, and there were some notable projects at the show.
Lucas Freitas Santos‘ KreisBoard is a surfboard covered in 17,000 cigarette butts collected in only 2 days. The toxic litter contains more than 4000 chemicals that pollute our oceans worldwide. I was surprised by the statistics, and I think the project delivers a strong and important message to the world.
Jack Hubery‘s ‘Experiments in Recycled Plastic’ is a collection of colourful bowls made from recycled plastic bottles using rigs and domestic oven.
Similarly, Josh James‘s ‘Melt’ is a kit that enables anyone to turn their waste plastic into beautiful handcrafted objects, at home. It is particularly encouraging to see waste plastic being turned into beautiful and personalised handcrafted objects or stationery. The project also won the ‘NotOnTheHighStreet.com’ Award at the show.
The New Designer of the Year Award’s Runner Up, Elspeth MacLeod is a Industrial Design & Technology graduate from Loughborough University. Her Mella is a self-monitoring beehive, allowing the user to check up on their bees whenever they want. The system checks the temperature and humidity regularly, and it aims to reduce direct contact between the user and their bees, and create a healthier environment for colonies to thrive in.
Another bee-related project is ‘Bait Hive’ – a sustainable, low-cost design solution for a foldable bee hive. Josh Akhtar from Brighton University is the second winner of this year’s New Designers W’innovate & Wilko Award. His Bait Hive is designed to be used in a wide variety of locations and is dedicated to swarm capture. It utilises a pheromone to aid in attracting a swarm, and once it enters the hive, a rotating door is used to trap the queen whilst allowing the colony to continue to forage, ensuring the swarm stays in its new location.
I also had an interesting chat with Conor Shimizu Moore from University of Sussex about his ‘Artemis’ growing kit – a new vivarium that features both an aquarium tank, and an open-terrarium environment. Artemis’s open-terrarium features a cutting edge “Shikkou-Nuri” paint technology from Japan that allow users to grow variety of plants from kitchen herbs to even Sphagnum Moss.
Top: Amy Elisa Lowe’s Hello Hospital; 2nd left: Robert Sampay’s ‘Dawn’; 3rd row: April Wu‘s ‘Mercury’ is a fun DIY musical instrument for children in poor countries; Bottom left: Sebastian Ng Lei’s ‘The experience of insect eating’; Bottom right: Pierce Brennan’s ‘Handle With Care®’
Amy Elisa Lowe‘s fun ‘Hello Hospital’ is an interactive storyboard which helps children and parents learn about the stages of going to hospital prior to admission in order for them to feel more at ease.
I learned about the existing drug dispensing error of the hospitals from Robert Sampay, whose mother is a nurse. His drug dispensing device, Dawn aims to reduce this problem and provide a safer way to load, track and dispense medication to patients. Patient prescription information is provided through an intuitive bluetooth low energy platform, resulting in an easier administration procedure and enhanced patient safety.
The Mars Chocolate Design Thinking Award winner, Sebastian Ng Lei’s ‘The experience of insect eating’ actually sounds more mind-boggling than it actually is. The sustainable project challenges our conventional view of food consumption in the West. The designer explained to me that his machine can product low-cost and nutritious cricket crackers that are more beneficial and eco-friendly than meat-eating. The concept is fascinating, but can consumers overcome their psychological barrier? I wonder what cheese on cricket crackers will taste like…
For people with OCD (myself included), Pierce Brennan’s Handle With Care® – a door handle with hand sanitiser is much appreciated. If this product becomes widely available, we can finally put away the tissues we often use to avoid touching the dirty door handles!
2nd row left: Bethany Christou‘s Slow Samson; 2nd row right: Tilly Gibbs‘ ‘A to Z of New York’; 3rd row: Katie Williams‘ The evacuation of St Kilda’; 4th left: Sarah Adams‘ needle felting work; 4th middle: Emily Dayson; 4th right: I love this Donald Trump illustration!
Top left and 2nd row: Shannon Bartlett Smith’s Paper cuts; top right: Rebecca Chan’s Komorebi side tables; Bottom: Kate Colin design‘s hand folded lamps
Last but not least, I spent the last 15 minutes of my visit at One Year on chatting to Shannon Bartlett Smith and Rebecca Chan. I was quite blown away by Shannon‘s papercut sculpture, and I found her delicate hand-cut pieces inspired by her hometown completely mesmerising! Meanwhile, her neightbour Rebecca Chan‘s Komorebi side tables inspired by the interplay between light and trees are also unique and beautiful.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to fully enjoy the graphic design section, which was a real shame. But what I saw briefly was encouraging, and I hope that all these UK design students will continue to produce brilliant work.
After experiencing disappointment at the design festivals in London and abroad, I finally feel more reassured after my visit to this graduate show! I only hope that Brexit will not be a barrier for these young talents in the future. I wish them all the best!