Fresh Talent - New Designers 2016

A visit to New Designers down in London is always a great way to ensure we keep bringing fresh talent to Leeds here at The Craft Centre and Design Gallery. The enthusiasm from these young designers means there’s a real buzz of excitement in the air and we can't wait to see the fruits of their labour as they begin their careers in contemporary craft and design.


Part 1 of the 31st edition of New Designers was officially opened on Wednesday 29th June, by award-winning illustrator and animator Axel Scheffler, best known for The Gruffalo. He presented the coveted New Designers Awards to this year’s most talented design graduates.

Axel Scheffler said when opening the event; “I have been so impressed by what I’ve seen tonight. These designers are all at the beginning of their careers and I wish them all the very, very best.”

The Fab Four! We highlight four of our favourite jewellers from the show

Emily higham

Jewellery from the hive collection: “Beehives and the beautiful gradient colours of honey and honeycomb inspired my graduate jewellery collection. I took inspiration from the rectangular shapes of hive boxes and the layers they are built upon, stacked in a neat uniform line above each other, contrasted with the organic unpredictability of how the honeycomb itself grows and forms around the frames within the hive boxes. These layers are then translated into formed metal and enamel. Resembling the layers built up within beehive boxes, both within the outside of the box and the rectangular slots hidden inside, the enameling process itself is mainly about layering. One layer of enamel is fired on top of another, thus the process goes on. The process of enameling allows me to build up gradient layers of colours, marks and surface patterns which are then removed, scratched back and stacked up to reveal a collection of unpredictable marks and varied assortments of colour. My Jewellery aims to portray the beautiful colours and the aesthetical, fragile and organic quality beehives and honeycomb hold, whilst still resembling the structural shapes found within hives.”

Christina Vernon

Christina’s jewellery is heavily influenced by her home town of Arbroath, the harbour and surrounding beaches. The inspiration for her degree show collection comes from the interesting shapes, colours and textures of the harbour and the precious things she collects on walks along the Angus coastline. Her jewellery combines the found objects with delicate enamel colours and stitched elements to create jewellery that captures the essence of the weather beaten harbour and beaches that Christina calls home.

Sophia Florence

“As a designer, maker and illustrator, I am inspired by my surroundings. Whenever I begin a project, I spend time doing observational drawings of whatever takes my interest at that moment in time. I then abstract those drawings and begin to design from them. Within this process I try and consider all the senses, as a jeweller it is imperative that one’s designs work with the kinetic structure that is the body. For my graduate collection, my initial drawings and research were predominantly inspired by plants. I spent a lot of time sketching and observing them, and completed a course in botanical illustration at RBGE. My interest honed towards the medicinal properties of plants and I began narrowing my research to focus on lavender, chamomile, pelargonium and peppermint. Since stress is a prominent factor during final year, with the looming worry about life outside of education, I was most interested in calming botanical properties. I began testing their abilities on myself, realising the results first hand. Scent can offer huge emotional connections by triggering memories unique to the wearer, whether those be good or bad. After looking at these four plants, I narrowed it down to Lavender, since for me that was the scent I enjoyed the most, and that had the most noticeable calming effects on me. I began to make pieces that had both mesmerising therapeutic movement and scent pockets, which were to sit on or down from your neck. The idea being that the scent is subtle so only the wearer knows it is there. The movement within the pieces are supposed to be a form of distraction to deflect your mind from unwanted and stressful thoughts and instil a sense of calm upon the wearer.”

Mauri Ann beardshaw – exhibiting in the New Designers One Year On section and featuring in our Christmas show this year called In the Spotlight.


Designer and maker of jewellery and objects, Mauri is inspired by the intricate patterns found on Diatom frustules. Using saw pierced metal and laser cut acrylic, her bright silver containers and brooches explore depth, layers and pattern. With the addition of warm glowing elements, Mauri strives to intrigue the viewer and celebrate the microscopic wonders beyond human vision. We’re very much looking forward to working with Mauri as part of our Christmas showcases which start from the 5th November. Visit the In the Spotlight page on our website.

Some other favourites!

New Designer of the Year Rob Anderson from Sheffield Hallam University

Title of work: Heavy Hands, A collection of hand-raised iron, copper and steel vessels Judges’ citation: “It exudes authenticity and the skill of the true craftsman. Technically it is brilliantly executed and the objects are simply beautiful and honest. He has integrity as a maker and is passionate about his work. It is great to award this prize to a man working in the heartland of the metal industry.”


A word from Rob: “Many thanks to New Designers and the BDC. I'm very humbled by this opportunity and excited at my future prospects.”




April black - wood

“Designer and maker from Scotland, lover of the outdoors and traditional craft. I make things from metal, wood and paper.”


Kathryn Harrison - ceramics

Decorative Arts student at Nottingham Trent University.


Arra textiles – One Year On

Powerful Orcadian design influences of light, sea and sand are woven together like an orchestral score, where hues, weave structures and yarns combine to create a striking range of fabrics. Inspiration is drawn from the seascapes of the Brough of Birsay, a tidal island off Orkney's West MAinland and the birthplace of Arra MacDonald, hand spinner, weaver and great grandmother of Arra Textiles founder Lucy MacDonald. “We take pride in being a zero waste, micro-manufacturing brand, creating bespoke products synonymous with our slow fashion ethos; sustainable textiles for lasting design.” Each piece is handmade, from initial design sketches through to hand finishing techniques, in a small garden studio in the North East of Scotland, using luxurious merino wool and cashmere/geelong yarn, all sourced in Britain.

We also spied Aimee Bollu who very recently took part in our Another Life exhibition; her stand was looking beautiful and it was lovely to finally meet this talented maker in person.

Meanwhile we also caught up with ceramicist and printmaker Hannah tounsend, whose work is part of our ceramic showcase Beneath the Surface until the end of July. After a recent residency at the Guldagergaard Ceramic Research Centre in Denmark to allow her to develop her work she was over the moon when she received the New Designers One Year On prize. Well done Hannah!


Watch this space for us working with some of these inspiring makers in the near future.

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