During your first year on the Silversmithing, Goldsmithing and Jewellery course, and indeed a few other courses such as Contemporary Jewellery and Product Design, you hear New Designers mentioned a lot, and you might not know what it is. I certainly didn't. But by the second year it's firmly part of your vocabulary, and by the third year you almost eat sleep and breathe New Designers.
What is New Designers? The official blurb is this:
“New Designers presents an unmissable opportunity to buy new products for your store or home, get inspired by fresh ideas and discover new design talent to commission or recruit.
Every year over 3,000 of the most promising graduate talents from Britain’s leading design courses exhibit. The show features everything from illustration to animation, furniture to fashion, and gaming to glass and takes place at the spectacular Business Design Centre in London, the world's capital of design. It provokes fresh thinking and kick-starts careers, providing a pipeline of young talent into the UK’s fastest growing creative industry*.
Nowhere else is it possible to see such innovation and creativity across all disciplines, and the content is completely new every year.”
(Taken from www.newdesigners.com)
What does it mean to us, as students? We do have a degree show at the end of our degree, held by and at the university, which runs for two weeks, which is open to the public and is an important event in itself. However, this is followed by New Designers, which is essentially one big degree show held at the Business Design Centre in Islington, for all of the students on the same course as you, throughout the UK. As such it gains an audience of the world’s creative industry, and various people and organisations will come to New Designers to eye up this year’s emerging talent, with a view to finding people they want to work with in the future – either immediate or long term.
So in brief, it’s your chance to shine and make valuable contacts for your future career. You also get to check out all the other work by graduates in the same field as you. This can be a little intimidating, you walk round looking at amazing pieces and think how much better they are than your work, but over the week you talk to other graduates from other universities and slowly learn that everyone is thinking the same thing – that their own work is not as good as the rest on show. I guess you are always your own hardest critic.
I was lucky enough to be awarded a Silver Bullion Grant from Goldsmiths, so in the run up to New Designers I was able to remake one of my favourite pieces, the Browl (brogue bowl) in silver. This afforded me the opportunity to work on my own design in silver, something I would not have been able to do at this point had it not been for the award. It provided me with a very steep but invaluable learning curve in the differences between copper – the metal I used most during my degree – and silver – the metal I will be using as a graduate. There were a few scary moments, and some frantic SOS messages to my tutor but I got there in the end.
The silver bowl, along with the Bullion Award display card.
My final pieces set up, along with the templates used to create them, postcards explaining the ideas and processes behind the making, and my business cards.
Taking it to be hallmarked with my own makers mark was very exciting, I dropped it off at Goldsmiths Hall on the first morning we were setting up ND, and collected it the following morning, fully stamped. I’m lucky that my surname is quite short, and as makers marks are limited to a few characters I was able to have my entire surname as one – SEED.
My very first piece hallmarked with my makers mark (the black is marker pen to indicate to the assay office where I wanted the hallmark to be placed, and has since been removed).
The first day at ND is the preview and awards night, where judges spend the day looking at everyone’s work then awarding various prizes throughout the evening and this also involves free cocktails, which is always fun! Packing up on the final day is bittersweet, you are relieved the week is over as it’s been long and tiring, but you also realise it’s the last day with your course mates and tutors. I’ve had an amazing three years and I can’t wait to watch my course mates’ careers flourish. I have a few plans myself, more about those later. Good luck to everyone on my course, I know some of you have already been offered some fantastic opportunities and I can’t wait to see where we all end up.
The final photo of our group – we should have thought to take one at the beginning of New Designers rather than at the end when we were all very tired!