The annual New Designers exhibition is a chance for jewellery lovers and industry insiders to meet some of the design talents we’ll all be talking about in the years to come. Professional jeweller took a trip to the Business Design Centre in London, to see this year’s talent.
There’s a moment you get, when browsing the jewellery portion of New Designers, when you see something so striking that you inevitably end up saying ‘this person could be huge’.
With a broad spectrum of work by students from the UK’s most influential colleges and universities on display, it’s sometimes tricky to look past the conceptual and see the commercial possibilities beneath — presuming, of course, an individual designer has any interested whatsoever in becoming commercially successful.
Professional Jeweller certainly spotted some exciting collections during New Designers Part One in June, including some clever pearl designs by Checkie Leong from Glasgow School of Art, and Emily Gore – who actually split pearls in half for her pieces – from Edinburgh College of Art. Others who impressed were Elizabeth Jayne Crawford of Sheffield Hallam University, and Katie Wrightman of the University of Dundee. The latter used her own hair as well as hair extensions in her work, a fact that drew shocked gasps from the press despite the powerful story that encompassed the collection. At New Designers it is simply never safe to take a collection on face value — there’s always a startling back-story to be discovered.
Colour abounded at this year’s event, with many exhibitors opting for neon brights, including Maisie Welch and Natalie Adams of the Edinburgh College of Art. The former showcased chunky pendants and rings with Snowcrete and oak encased in resin, while the latter presented some intricate pendants, earrings and rings woven with colourful threads and, in some cases, precious gold threads to create a kaleidoscope effect.
Melissa Yarlett of the University of Central Lancashire offered something completely different again, this time silver pendants seemingly bought to life with moss-like tendrils growing from flat surfaces. Cardiff Metropolitan University also highlighted some talented individuals from its ceramics course, most notably Rachel Codd, who presented some truly unique porcelain pieces fusing flowery femininity with Pan’s Labyrinth-style eccentricities.
Students of the Design for Industry course at Birmingham School of Jewellery also impressed with their edited collections, including video graphics and point of sale materials. Due to the nature of the course, the work on offer looked the most collection-like of all the university and colleges on display; offering up an array of pieces with an appreciation of entry price points and wow-factor designs. Honor Lee, Nicole Wong and Tomas Binkevic particularly impressed.
Aside from this publication’s highlights, New Designers also shines a light on its own favourites through a variety of awards and prize-givings The Goldsmiths’ Company, a leading sponsor of New Designers, presents awards for silversmithing and jewellery at the event, with the former being won by Karen Westland from the Glasgow School of Art for her Infinity oval bowl. In the jewellery category, Ieva Mikutaite, also of Glasgow School of Art, took home the prize for her Articulation bracelet, which expands and contracts in what can only be described as a feat of precious metal engineering. Both winners receive a week’s work experience in a professional workshop at the Goldsmiths’ Centre and a student hallmarking package.
Birmingham-based casting house of 3D printing specialists Weston Beamor also sponsored an award at this year’s event, specifically focusing on traditional craftsmanship and innovative use of new technologies. The winner was named as Alexandra von Trapp, who wowed with her Uncanny Adornment collection of solid silver and electroformed silver bracelets, neckpieces and earrings.
Glen Day, head of business development at Weston Beamor, commented: “It really stood out and it was obvious that a great deal of thought had gone into its creation. She is clearly a very talented artist but more than that her designs are very much on-trend and considerable thought had gone into how they could be produced at a reasonable price and, most importantly, how the pieces are going to be worn.”
This feature first appeared in the August issue of Professional Jeweller magazine. Read it online here.