Thursday, 3 July 2008

New designers?

At part 1 of the New Designers exhibition in Islington's Business Design Centre yesterday, I was totally overwhelmed by the extraordinary wealth of talent displayed by young designers from around the UK. I was also stunned by the incredible array of stuff on show, from the huge selection of exquisite and professionally produced textiles to some rather primary school inspired ceramic pieces.

I was curious to spot the emergence of any design trends, but was hard pushed to find anything totally new. I did notice that some of the prints are more intricately patterned and that a paler colour palette/more floaty theme is in evidence, after last year's bolder and brighter look. Some of the woven textiles are utterly fabulous. In fact, there are so many wonderful fabrics, wallpaper and applied designs on display that they probably deserve a book rather than a blog - you'd better go and see them for yourself!

As for the rest of the exhibition - it's certainly an eclectic mix. There's a big 'handicrafts' type feel - think arts and crafts, William Morris and basket weaving. Here are some of the things I spotted:

The Middlesex stand (no reference to Lords cricket ground intended) featured some curiously colourful accessories, furnishings and art installations. The upholstery (see above) was very Designers Guild meets Roche Bobois, if you're into that sort of thing.

There was a Barbie-inspired wardrobe (left), the stuff of dreams if you're a six or seven year old girl ... and a rather rude-but-amusing tartan affair (right) which should be x-rated, so email ShopCurious with proof of your age if you want to see a larger-sized version.

I found the enormous jewellery offering rather uninspiring. I am in no doubt as to the exceptional quality and precision of workmanship in some of the fine jewellery pieces, but there was little that really stood out from the crowd. Some of the quirkier items included a couple of twisted metal trees (as shown), which the designer, Jennifer Millar, described as 'communal jewellery'. How long do you think they'd survive in your local park? And there was the delightfully suave and deliciously photogenic Patrick Mavros (pictured here) with his resin and gilded metal rings, necklaces and bracelets some of which light up at night... a bit like Star Trek's Eymorg control bracelet - beam me up Scottie.

Several people have used bits of plumbing equipment and taps to create weird and wonderful sculptures. Richard Tarek Doss from the Royal College of Art has incorporated oxygen cylinders into one of his pieces (see above right and right). Molly Harwood (left) uses cast glass and metal components to "represent vital organs within our body.... visual metaphors that aim to challenge emotions surrounding our inner workings and mortality."Could this be the start of a hot new trend, or is it just the outward manifestation of some bizarre fetish?

On to glass and ceramics, where again I felt I'd seen it all before - for instance this banana style chandelier (left), though I did quite like the familiar looking ceramic Madonna with child by Rebecca Kindred from Swansea (right).

Much more commercial, and fun too, is a range of plates (see right and below) printed with pictures of left over dinners - Britain's Dinners II by Damaris Booth - you can choose from Roast Dinners, Chinese, Curry, Fish and Chips, Pizza and Bangers and Mash. I do detect a whiff of patriotism creeping into some of the designs...

My verdict on part 1 of the New Designers exhibition - it's a veritable dog's dinner. If you've been along, or are planning to visit, I'm curious to hear your comments too.
Will you?

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