Saturday, 18 July 2009

New Designers, London

Each summer, New Designers, showcases design graduate work from a long list of design schools around the UK. I have actually never been to a New Designers show, but this year, I was asked by the Design Council if I could do a presentation that would give design graduates insight into what it's like working as a designer today.

A friend once said to me, at Uni we are taught just one way to use our design skills and creativity. The aim for my presentation was to show design grads other ways designers can, and have been, using their skills and creativity. I briefly profiled a dozen designers and their work, to show where design could go. The list extended from being social entrepreneurs to bringing design thinking to policy.

I think the presentation went down well. For design grads who have spent the last 3 to 4 years focused solely on product, graphics, fashion etc. it might seem a stretch to take their design skills and creativity into areas as unfamiliar as policy. But on Wednesday night's Awards Night, architect Amanda Levete, opened the night by saying:

‘There is a financial crisis, but there is not a creative crisis. It is an incredibly exciting moment, the moment to be bold, to think big and to think diagonally because hand in hand with creativity goes entrepreneurship...Your trump card is your creativity.’

After going through some inspiring work of designers, I talked about some skills to think about beyond design. Two days before the presentation, Ken Musgrave, Leader of Design Competencies at Dell, wrote on FastCompany's blog, Beyond Design, 10 Skills Designers Need to Succeed Now. In my bookmarks I also have marked, Design Observer's blog post on the Top Ten Things They Never Taught Me in Design School, and designer Rory Hamilton's website, Everything I Know, which Rory says is about getting years of design experience out of his head and into the world.

My presentation was the last of 4 presentations by the Design Council. The other presentations, delivered by Antonia and Tess, brought insights into graphic design and furniture design, and looked at aspects of setting up a design business.

After the presentations, I did a short tour of New Designers with my friend, and Class of 2009 design grad, Rachel. I first visited Northumbria University's Design For Industry stand. My friend Emma said it looked like an Apple store (nice).

We checked out the work of two award-winning Northumbria Uni grads (go UNN!). The first was New Designers Designer of the Year award winner, Nicola Morgan's amazing inter-locking garments.

And Robin Grasby's desk, which was awarded the 100% Design Award and looks like every designer's dream desk, kitted with a ruler running along the bottom, white board, drafting table and cutting mat (I was very tempted to ask where I could buy one myself).

I was also impressed by Goldsmith's exhibit, which didn't focus on design student work, rather on other important aspects of design, such as the design process (and it's vibrant creativity and messiness).

And also asking questions and engaging people in a conversation. One such, was this brilliant poster asking whether design should be political. Or not.

Looks pretty even to me... and looks like a good debate, if there were to be one. Here are some further comments.

They read:
  • Now more than ever! We must take responsibility
  • Design cannot be ignorant of the world it exists in
  • Design can change the world for the better = good politics
  • No... politics should be designed (good point RD, I know you wrote it!)
  • Yes, Gordon Brown is funny looking
  • Design anarchy
New Designers provided lots of inspiration and great vibes from design grads (even in this economic climate). When I got home from the show, I tweeted:

"Back from big day at New Designers. Best wishes to the class of 2009 design grads. The world needs your creativity!"

For other blogging on New Designers see:

Odd Things
Does a nice critique of presentation spaces at New Designers this year. Next year design grads should definitely check out the post and discussions.


Qin said...

it looks great, when does it come down? i wish i can visit as well :)

Steph-annie said...

hello I was given your link form JBaldwin. Really nice post about newdesgners. I was there that week myself. It was great seeing a collection of things that had been made but it was also interesting to see how students presented themselves. Northumbria and Goldsmiths also took my interest. You can read what i said here
I really like your angle about design and policy. Any chance you can write a post about your talk. I would definitely check it out. Would be really great to see 'What I am and not what I make' if you get what I mean.

Steph-annie said...

I have just discovered that you are a PhD student at Goldsmiths. I am on a work placement at Goldsmiths. If you would like to meet to talk more about your post then we can arrange to meet through twitter. I go by the name of stephanniej.

Nitheesh said...

Just linked this article on my facebook account. it’s a very interesting article for all.

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