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'How to Make' UCA alumna fronts new BBC show

This month Zoe Laughlin, an alumna of the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) Canterbury will entertain the nation with her brand-new BBC show ‘How to Make’.

The three-part series sees the designer and engineer create and get under the skin of the everyday products we take for granted.

In each episode, Zoe will dissect a classic item to understand the wonders of its form, function and the material that go into making it, before building her own truly bespoke versions, step by step.

“I’ve always been interested in making. Coming from a farming family, the practical approach to problem-solving was commonplace, and thinking through doing, improvising, mending and making were part of our everyday life,” said Zoe.

Zoe undertook a Foundation Art & Design course at UCA Canterbury between 1999 and 2000. It was here that she realised that her practical, learning through doing approach was actually a skill.

“I have many extremely fond memories of studying at Canterbury, but the overarching one is the feeling of being able to spread my wings and find a voice,” explained Zoe. “The range of tools and process we were exposed to was really inspiring and even more so, was the validation given to us when we tried new things, pushed our ideas, and explored what the creative process could mean.”

In episode one, Zoe takes on the trainer - a much-loved modern classic. Setting out in search of inspiration she meets some of the UK's leading trainer designers, manufacturers, and the young inventors working on new sustainable materials such as material made by bacteria and self-deodorising fabrics. She also goes behind the scenes at Britain's largest footwear factory and meets one of the country's pre-eminent trainer historians. All before building her own bespoke trainers, which - in Zoe's own words - "are mad, but they're mine - and that makes them special!"

Zoe hopes that the viewers of the show take away “a sense that ‘making’ is something that we can all do and an ingenious solution is only a paperclip away.”

This positive message comes at a time when there are many unprecedented challenges facing us, and knowing that the design community will help provide us with some of the solutions is reassuring. 

“It can be both an invaluable skill to not only survive but to thrive. There is plenty of benefits that come from interacting with the material world, be it feeding yourself through growing veg and cooking, or keeping the water running straight and true with a few plumbing skills. Making can also be incredibly absorbing and can help to focus and relax the mind. Even watching other people make can be terrific. 

You can watch ‘How to Make’ on BBC Four on Thursday 2 April 8pm or on BBC iPlayer.

To learn more about studying Art & Design Foundation at UCA, visit the course pages.