The New Designers 2016 show at Islington’s Business Design Centre showcases the latest talented new designers to hit the scene. The One Year On category exhibits the collections of 50 designers one year into their careers. The Resident picks out six One Year On designers to watch in 2016 and beyond…
Words: Rachel Mantock
1 Emma-Jane Rule, metal sculptor
Metal sculptor, Emma-Jane Rule, favours the unusual technique of fold forming, evolving the technique to create explorative pieces that have both aesthetic and sculptural aspects, created from flat sheets of copper and silver that are hammered or rolled into shape using a mill, resulting in visual surrealism that suits her playful and intuitive approach. Her silver collection was extremely well received at her first exhibit at the New Designers showcase during her final year of study and she was talent spotted by the Goldsmiths’ Company, as well as awarded the Contemporary British Silversmiths Design Silver Award. Rule is back with an unstoppable passion this year, after having developed her personal style and technical knowledge. She says: ‘I am interested in capturing the beauty of lines and rhythms found in the natural world and translating those patterns into metal, through fanning and gathering the pleated metal and developing anticlastic and synclastic curves.’
Her aesthetically pleasing zig zag ‘Prickles’ pods and platters are only a drop in the ocean of what she wants to eventually achieve, with a keen interest in creating larger scale wall sculptures, jewellery and handmade lighting sculptures, as well as functional silverware that she describes as ‘touches of everyday luxury and heirlooms for the future’. Radcliffe discovered the New Designers exhibition ‘by accident’ and was inspired to ‘quit the rat race and have a go,’ to see if she could turn her love of craft into a business and creative lifestyle. She originally planned to graduate from university as an embroiderer and glass artist, but ‘caught the metal bug’ whilst studying and she has never looked back.
2 Sarah Christensen, furniture designer
Having emerged from the contemporary art scene, Sarah Christensen has flourished into a fully fledged designer, creating bespoke pieces such as the rugged ‘Waney Edge’ chair, featuring what looks like the untouched inside of a tree as an arm rest. For the New Designers showcase, Christensen is focusing on ‘introducing colour to furniture,’ as she has done with her FOYA cabinet, using dark wood and a bright yellow edging on the bottom and on the interior. She says: ‘The lining of a designer jacket is often the most stunning bit. You see flashes of flamboyance on the outside and when a drawer is opened; a burst of colour is revealed.’
3 Olivia Walker, ceramics
With smooth clay, stone and deep natural blue tones covering the surface area of the main body, paired with pointed wooden sticks that are pierced through the middle, like a Red Indian’s arrow through a target’s heart, crafter Olivia Walker produced a perfectly balanced marriage between the contemporary and the indigenous for a previous collection of hers. Of her new collection – pots clad in feathery, creamy strokes that are petal like and fluffy visually – to be exhibited at the One Year On showcase this year, she says: ‘I throw precise forms in porcelain, covering and submerging them in organic repetitive patterns. My process allows for a meditative reflection on one piece – I watch it grow through the repetitive addition of paper clay accretions. A new addition to my collection this year will be glazed forms that work as partners to the more textured pieces.’
Walker’s pieces straddle the border between art and design, ‘concerned with line, form and light,’ the clay texture taking on ‘a life force of its own – it grows and multiplies and sweeps across the form’. Having recently moved her studio to Barcelona, Walker is excited about the prospect of new inspiration coming from a different landscape and has exciting ideas about developing her concepts through glazed forms. She says: ‘The glazed pieces I will be showing are the result of hundreds of tests – it is a whole craft in itself!’
A graduate of English Literature, Walker became fascinated with ceramics after leaving university, she started borrowing books on studio pottery before eventually deciding to study the subject and work as an apprentice to hone the craft.
4 Beatrice Wall, contemporary sculptor
Furry, colourful, glazed giant beetles inhabit the studio of contemporary sculptor, Beatrice Wall, their bodies full of shimmer and deep azure beetle juice. Her pieces would make a truly unique addition to any table, mantelpiece or bedside table, something that guests will stare at in fascination, wanting to touch the glazed surface and run their fingers through the peculiar, thick, luscious fur.
Wall has succeeded in turning a gruesome beetle into something so beautiful, people want to marvel at them and repeatedly touch their different textures. She combines colours for each beetle in such a way that it looks naturally occurring, like precious stones found deep underground, each one full of deep, rich colours, like a purple night’s sky or the aqua of a Mediterranean sea. Swarms will flock over to her exhibit at the One Year On showcase, enthralled by her wondrous, luminous beetles, like they were specially and masterfully evolved in a laboratory.
5 Claudia Wassiczek, sculpture and collage
The striking, other-worldly, almost magical designs of Claudia Wassiczek are guaranteed to stun the crowds at the New Designers exhibition, gently easing them into a state of wonder and awe. Large rock and sea plant like sculptures dominate her collection, with dark brown tones, cream tones and subtle dabs of pinkish tones here and there, as if they are ornaments in a haunted cave, lost under the sea and home to weird and exquisite, unearthly beings, undiscovered by modern science but documented in ancient folklore. Wassiczek says: ‘My first collection was comprised of organic sculptural work and collage pieces that investigated the themes of time, fragmentation and our perception of these. This new collection will be a progression of these themes; it will discuss the transformation embodied by acts of disintegration and reconfiguration.’
She configures her clay bodies from scratch, first mixing up the clay from powdered form which allows her to achieve ‘a very specific range of colours,’ as well as enabling her to ‘explore particular textures’ that reflect the ‘fragility and complexity inherent in nature’. Looking to the future, she wants to start working with clay on a larger scale in a more architectural manner, focusing on the way sculptural pieces inhabit space. Growing up in Austria, Wassiczek was deeply influenced by the native landscape, which she attributes her own style of work to. She says: ‘I established my own language through which my work is now unfolding.’
6 Victoria Radcliffe, contemporary silverware
Looking at the work of the Sheffield-based Victoria Radcliffe, the ancient history of the Northern city immediately comes to mind, when it was part of the Danelaw and home to a wave a Vikings that came to settle there in the 9th century. A jeweller and silversmith by profession, she debuted her first collection at New Designers as a final year student with her university, equipped with the knowledge of traditional silversmith techniques and unconventional materials.
Scoring, folding, spinning and hand raising are some of the various techniques she uses to prepare the body of the metal mugs that feature as her final products, intended to hold beer, before finishing them off with a hammer composed of rocks, giving the finished pieces ‘unique tactility and an unrepeatable pattern’. Her designs are rock, metal hybrids with abstract shapes, resembling medieval utensils, inspired by the module handles on rock climbing walls and ‘accentuating the difference between the man made and natural form’. She says: ‘The vessels were designed around carefully selected rocks, intending to remind the user of nature and draw them away from their busy routines.’
This year, Radcliffe will combine candelabras made from large pieces of slate, sourced from the slate mines of North Wales, with tumblers ‘inspired by scenic mountain ranges,’ again evoking a sense of Celtic and Viking history.
New Desingers at the Business Design Centre, Islington, runs from 29 June-2 July and 6-9 July. See newdesigners.com