Last Saturday I was astounded when I walked into Business Design Centre located in the heart of Angel to find what looked like a thousand doe eyed exhibitors crammed on top of one another, fighting for the chance to speak to the public. New Designers is an exposition that is comprised of two weekends focusing on different aspects of design that are emerging from inventors of colleges around the United Kingdom. The weekend I attended, the fair’s design disciplines were furniture, product design, spatial and interior design, graphic design, illustration, and digital arts. The designs and products presented ranged from car designs, famous books with new illustrations, architecture models, and even a new design for inhalers. The amount of ideas packed into one building and the enthusiasm that poured from the students made me feel as if all of the problems in the world would be solved with the inventions I saw that day.
As I walked through the exhibition though, two main exhibitors caught my eye and had me absorbed in thought long after the fair was over. The first, was a student in the 3D design department at the University of Brighton, Antonia Packham. Her marble like design caught my eye with the bright hue of turquoise calling from across the room. The marble like material is actually nothing like marble but a man-made material known as ‘plastiglomerate,’ a stone like material formed when sand, wood and shells meld with molten ocean plastic. The goal of her design is to address the growing environmental problems that occur with plastics making their way into the ocean. Packham’s design contradicts our idea of the relationship with man-made objects and nature by creating something attractive and practical instead of destructive.
The second designer that grabbed my attention was an excited tall and burly man standing next to a rather short side table painted in millennial pink. Michael Cooper, a fine wood designer from the Buildings Craft College explained to me his debut furniture collection known as Analogue Living. The collection is designed to take away digital screen time from the user and encourage positive activities with oneself or others. His collection includes a low sitting chair that has a built-in book shelf, a social table to encouraged group activities as well as a tea buddy. The tea buddy (featured above) derives from the Japanese tea culture and is in essence an informal mini teahouse for the average British household.
One thing that these emerging designers do is force a more conscientious attitude toward the items that we as consumer are purchasing. Packham’s found ocean plastic designs are a reminder to consumers of the responsibility we have to keeping our planet clean, while Cooper’s furniture collection challenges not to waste the life we were given on our phone but to cultivate meaningful relationship with the people around us. So, let us be more thoughtful in the items we choose to invest in and what those items cultivate in our daily lives.
Written by Sondra Kinney