New Designers 2013 – Looking Back

Hot, sticky, knackering, interesting, fun, tiring, hot, all words that could describe the week spent exhibiting at New Designers 2013. Its been almost a week since it finished and my feet still hurt from standing around for 8 hour stretches.

As much as I complained in moments of boredom and foot soreness it was a really interesting and even educational experience. As much as the 3D Design degree show was a crash course in display and idea communication for me, we did have tutors and technicians on hand pretty much all day every day to advise and help us put it together. At New Designers, compared to some courses we had very little input from the university, they didn’t help us pay for the stall in any way and the two tutors that dropped in to help did it out of the kindness of their hearts rather than because of some course related obligation. Therefore we were pretty much left to do it ourselves, which means we learned far more about organising and putting together such a big group show ourselves as we’d had to do it ourselves. Although there was some flaring tempers and curtness with each other at times, we did get it done, on time and without any major hiccups or fuck ups.


The previous post was about the first day of ND and the private view so I’ll continue from there. Thursday was not so fun in the morning, minor-ly hung over but determined to go in there were a few decidedly pale and drawn faces hanging around for the longest day of the week. The next three days were spent in the hottest building known to man on the sunniest days of the year so far! But we all soldiered on, taking it in turns to rest our feet in the few chairs we managed to purloin from a nearby cupboard. Every time someone came over to look at some ones work they would have to jump up and corner them for a chat. Every time you did this you were pretty much guaranteed to lose your seat to some one who had been hovering. As it got nearer and nearer to the end of the show and we were hotter, stickier and more tired, people became less inclined to talk to people, taking longer to get up as they deliberated whether talking to another disinterested school child or person who wasn’t that interested in the first place was worth losing a seat for.


Some exciting things did happen during the week, it wasn’t all boredom and sitting around fanning ourselves with spare catalogs. One of our own, Joshua Barnes, won a British Design Council Future Pioneer award for his Augmented Quilt, a quilt designed to relieve loneliness for children staying for long periods of time in hospital. The quilt is covered in patchwork images which can be linked to messages from family and friends which can be viewed on a smart device. Like QR codes but with images.
The award ceremony itself was really fun, not only as there was free booze and Bompas and Parr jellie, but because the judges presenting the awards read like a whose who in the design world. Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh creator of Sugru was there, Jay Osgerby of Barber Osgerby and Mat Hunter, Chief Design Officer from the Design Council. We were all delighted for Josh and I got to eat amazing Bompas and Parr jelly!


The jelly was brilliant, I ended up having to eat mine with no hands, face straight into plate, as my spoon holding hand was occupied with a glass of wine. They were truly delicious but we couldn’t quite figure out the flavours, even though they were really familiar, all we know is there was a blue one and one that was definitley alcoholic. Yum. And of course there was the decorative display of gelatine heavy display jellies in all kind of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes.


So there were highs and lows of New Designers, the lows being how knackering the show was, the heat and my personal expectations being so high. Although I wasn’t expecting to land a job, sell everything, have a billion commissions and win all the awards and I did make a couple of contacts I think you can’t help compare yourself to what has happened to your peers. Awards were won, work was sold, jobs and internships were offered, all to other people. I suppose one thing I did learn, specifically about my work and where it ‘fits’ in the world, is that it weird and needs explaining. Although not having my wall graphics there meant I was forced to talk to people about my work having the info there does mean people engage with it and ‘get it’ much faster. So that’s something to remember for the future!

So we’ll see what the future holds with shows now, there’s been vague murmurs about doing something together at London Design week but it’s highly likely that most of us will never see each other again, let alone show together! So I wish everyone the best of luck in all their future endeavors, well done us for pulling off a great show and I will see everyone at graduation!