New Designers 2013: young, fresh and new

Discover the names to watch from this year’s graduate show.

The 28th edition of New Designers took place this summer, giving graduate jewellers from across the UK a taste of public-facing exhibitions as they start to make their first steps into the industry. Professional Jeweller rounds up the stand-out designs, unusual materials and prize winners at this year’s show.

When New Designers rolls into town the smart London district of Islington teems with hip 20-something design graduates armed with jewellery, textiles, ceramics and cutting-edge product design.

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The show returned in late June this year and thousands of young designers arrived for 2013’s show at the Business Design Centre. There, on the upper floors of the space, jewellery graduates from 11 UK colleges and universities showcased their work side by side, from intricate hand-soldered neckpieces through to designs made using cast paper, perspex and white chocolate.

Talent from the School of Jewellery at Birmingham City University, Duncan of Jordanstone (DJCAD), Glasgow School of Art, Middlesex University, Sheffield Hallam, The Cass, Truro College of Art, Bucks New University, Edinburgh College of Art, University for the Creative Arts Farnham and University of the Creative Arts Rochester came together and there emerged design themes and several names tipped as ones to watch in the coming years.

While this year’s show might have had fewer schools present – notably Central Saint Martins did not choose to showcase this year – it gave visitors a chance to move slowly about the show, speaking with the graduates to better understand their work and future plans.

At Birmingham City University’s show space was split between those from the BA Jewellery Design and Related Products and those studying Jewellery and Silversmithing Design for Industry, the latter of which use tools such as CAD to help create pieces with a commercial edge. Many of the graduates Professional Jeweller spoke with were already in the process of applying for jobs with UK-based and overseas designer jewellery brands while others were considering working in the industry for some time to establish more skills at a manufacturing level.

Among the Birmingham School of Jewellery graduates were pieces with Moorish influences, bridal designs and flocked bangles featuring tiny pairs of legs that nodded to cancan dancing.

Glasgow School of Art’s Emma Gregory was focused on technical skills; her laser-welded designs were highly delicate yet striking creations based on the shapes and forms found in the isometric molecular structure of gold and other precious materials. Gregory is now set to move to Pforzheim to study at the Goldschmiedeschule.

While 2012’s graduates used the attributes of paper, resin and fabric to create a varied body of work, 2013’s jewellery graduates went event further in their use of non-precious metals and materials. Jewellery made using brass, steel, Perspex, coloured pencils and even chewing gum helped to create eclectic and eye-catching final collections.

Glasgow School of Art’s Sophie Swinton dared to find beauty in the things she disliked, chewing up pink bubblegum and glitter and combining it with suede and crystals to create rings and neckpieces that oozed with girly fluffiness while simultaneously having a darker edge.

Throughout show there was a trend for lightweight jewellery with geometric, openwork structures. Monique Daniels, a graduate from University for the Creative Arts Rochester, showcased a collection of bi-colour brooches and neckpieces as well as smaller, delicate stud earrings with sharp, geo shapes. At Middlesex University the organic, openwork structures of Kirke Raava’s work showcased crotchet and metalwork skills, playing with elements of cutlery but softening them with meandering net-like outcrops.

DJCAD’s Kirsty Isla Nicholson used her graduate project to create a charitable collection that has raised money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Her project, 187 rings, featured that very number of diamond-shaped coloured Perspex rings hung from a white wooden board. Guests at New Designers were able to donate whatever they wished to the charity, taking a ring as a memento. Other pieces in her collection toyed with the idea of preciousness, including a giant necklace made with balls of white chocolate to mimic pearls and a supersize stud earring with a giant butterfly back that doubled as a two-finger ring.

Stand-out Sheffield Hallam student Alexander Flood went down a more functional route, using his degree to develop a collection of pocket knives with a contemporary edge. Flood used steel in homage to Sheffield, incorporating a winding mechanism that opened the knife – a tactile element that would appeal to fans of product design.

13 jewellers returned to New Designers this year for One Year On, a showcase of design talents that have excelled in their field and have shown entrepreneurial prowess in their first year of business. Among the returning jewellers were Annabella Lucilla Hastings – an IJL 2013 KickStarter and a stand-out a last year’s show – and Grace Hamilton, whose knitted neon neckpieces commanded much attention from visitors (see this month’s Bench Fresh). Many more of the One Year On jewellers spoke of establishing stockists and all were selling directly to consumers online or through fairs.

Ciara Bowles Contemporary Jewellery, a collection of woven earrings and neckpieces, showed development in aluminium, while jewellery by Carrie Dickens showcased just how effective the use of 3D printing can be. Her work, made using aluminium or solid nylon, appeared to undulate, each link carefully connected to the next. Dickens’ creations have also won her the attention of various 3D design studios.

New Designers is never complete without its annual prize-giving ceremony, which takes place on the morning of the first day of the show before it opens to the public. Three prizes were given out this year for jewellery and metalwork, two from the Goldsmiths Company and one by Birmingham’s Weston Beamor.

Judges for this year’s jewellery prizes included renowned British jeweller Alex Monroe, Astley Clarke’s creative director Lorna Watson, Professional Jeweller editor Kathryn Bishop and the British Jewellers’ Association’s Lindsey Straughton, who has long-term experience working with emerging jewellery design talent.

The inaugural Weston Beamor prize was awarded to Glasgow School of Art’s Hamish Dobbie for an outstanding design that incorporated innovative use of CAD and casting alongside traditional processes. He impressed judges with his silverware inspired by the rock structures found at Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa. He said: “Some of the pieces I created for my degree show would have been impossible to create without computer aided technologies.” He scooped work experience with Weston Beamor and £1,000 to help develop his work.

The Goldsmiths’ Company awarded two designs, one for silversmithing and a second for jewellery. Its winners were selected for their innovation, saleability, expert craftsmanship and excellent finishing techniques. The silversmithing prizewinner was Florence Carter of Sheffield Hallam, whose candlestick holders showcased her potential as a refined silversmith. The jewellery prize was given to Kelly Munro of Edinburgh College of Art for a silver brooch, part of her final collection. She was awarded the prize for her skill with metal, a material she had not used until very recently. Both winners won £500 and a week’s work experience with a London-based firm in their field of work.

The annual New Designers show is an unmissable part of the UK jewellery calendar, suited to buyers seeking new talent and for manufacturers to spot skilled makers and designers of the future. It is also a chance to celebrate those jewellers already making their mark only a year after graduating, doing their bit to keep jewellery design innovative and exciting.

This feature was taken from the August issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here




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