The Business Design Centre, Islington, is classed as one of the best modern conference and exhibition centres in the world. Today, it is the home to the annual exhibition ‘New Designers’; a display of the finest and most cutting edge techniques in design, from university graduates all over the country.
The contemporary architecture and scaling span of exhibition space in the centre of the building, gives a dramatic focal point as you enter. Nodes lead to a maze of rooms around the balcony edge, overflowing with designers. The vast empty space, feels full to the brim today – full of excitement, creativity and reams upon reams of talent around each and every corner.
The initial burst of colour and pattern from the textiles exhibition felt like a fantastic introduction into the world of design. I get a similar feeling walking into the ‘Love Orchid Nurseries’, with row after row of flowers, for as far as the eye can see of varying colours and varieties; a feast for the eyes.
On the 1st floor of the Business Design Centre my eyes widened viewing the array of ceramics and sculptural art on display. Simple shapes and predominantly monochrome shades was a trend seen throughout the show, displaying the natural form and technique of hand thrown pottery, combined with complex design elements.
Monochrome and mono-prints on ceramic vessels were displayed in combination. Surface decoration and print work applied using a multi-layered pigment application and removal technique could be seen in various works. This technique resulted in individual and unique pieces, that were one of a kind. This kind of printing method onto the surface of the ceramics reminded me of the natural patterns and detailing formed on orchid petals, almost like they have been printed using ink, each one with an individual pattern and unique personality.The exhibition also displayed work of past graduates in the ‘One Year On’ section, to view the success and continued development of work in their first year of business. It’s clear to see why they had been chosen to return to the exhibition, with the strength of their work, flair and quality of product shining through. In particular, I found Olivia Walker’s use of contrast between texture and softness with simple vessel shapes and colours exciting. Olivia encourages people to pick up, touch and feel the tactile nature of her wok. The smooth areas of the ceramics almost looking like rivers flowing through mountain ranges. Her work, I felt, captures the essence of a Phalaenopsis Orchid, combining the contrast between the clean and regular symmetry of the petals complementary to the complex and intricate detail in the labellum and column of the plant.
Georgina W is a contemporary ceramicist who used simple shapes to create perfect pieces of work, showing the workmanship and skills needed to create such vessels. She then adds trinkets and detailing to accessorise the ceramic, adding to the value and precious nature of the work. You can see from each piece, the patience and skill needed to produce a piece of work, including taking the time to perfect a completely smooth base or what Georgina like to refer to as her ‘perfect bottom’. Every part of the ceramics looked cared for and finished flawlessly.
It made me reflect on the process of growing orchids and the similarities of care and patience needed to grow the ‘perfect’ plant. Growing orchids is a slow and labour intensive process, an investment is made in every single plant and therefore each and every one is precious. As Georgina prides herself in her ‘perfect bottoms’, our growers, packers, and everyone involved in the process of producing orchids pride themselves in trying to achieve a ‘perfect’ Orchid, every single time.
Naomi Jacques is an artist and sculptor creating kiln formed glass pieces. Whilst I delicately handled each of Naomi’s sculptures, I was surprised at the lightweight and durable nature of the material. As we discussed her process, I couldn’t help but draw upon comparisons between the features and form of Phalaenopsis orchids. Reflecting the delicate and intricate appearance combined with the relatively durable and resistant structure. Orchids may have the appearance of being fragile, but they are a relatively robust plant, that can flower for months with little maintenance – perfect for adding a bit of opulence to every home.
‘New Designers’ was not only an inspiring show, full of fresh designers with an abundance of talent, but a mixing pot of contemporary techniques and traditional methods. Definitely something for everyone, and a fantastic array of quality and quantity. Well done to all ‘New Designers’ exhibiting, you put on quite a show!