Before we get started, can we take a moment to offer some advice to graduates? Please, please find some time to update your website with your new work before the show starts. We know you are incredibly busy in the run up to the show and you think your head might explode, but please find the time to update your site. The show was liberally sprinkled with "Strictly No Photography" signs and while business cards are good to help visitors, if your work is not on your site, how are people going to remember you? There is a lot of competition out there and design writers, manufacturers, retailers etc will just move on to the next graduate if they cannot find what it was that initially excited them.
This year was the first time the entire Fine Art faculty showed in their new Battersea home, allowing everyone (Fine and Applied Arts) more room to breathe and everyone benefitted. After last years presentation, which was somewhat chaotic to say the least, this years crop appeared more polished and ready for the commercial world.
In Design Products, Jack Smith (who we mentioned in a previous post here) showed his simple but effective folding Stool and an equally simple but effective DIY Birdbox made from 2 pieces of plywood and a set of instructions.
DIY was the name of the game for many of the Design Products graduates, with Tom Hatfield showing Workspace in Brackets, a folded steel bracket designed to accept standard timber sizes. The concept was inspired by young, start companies (we like it already) who need an office space, but may not be in a position to take on a fully fitted traditional office. With a little ingenuity and elbow grease, you can create your own office with minimal expenditure - just make the bits you need.
James Stooze went one step further and presented a downloadable PDF entitled "how to make a chair open source". Basic DIY skills and access to everyday household tools are all you need to create your own chair from discarded materials. No packaging, no shipping, no waste.
Beautiful Mistake by Tien-sheng Huang was exactly that. Using the concept of shrink fitting, an engineering concept not often found in furniture, cooling metal shrinks to form a joint, thus eliminating the need for extra materials like screws, brackets etc. Shown in hardwoods and polished brass, we have a feeling you will see these snapped up by a manufacturer immediately.
Over in Communication Arts & Design, Chris Stoneman showed the mesmerising Fluted Motion. Rather than projecting onto a solid surface, a light-like glass sphere suspended from the ceiling acted as both projector and "screen". The glass acts as a secondary layer before the animation reaches the ground, distorting it and creating two separate focal points.
Textile designer Eva Malschaert produced a beautiful space divider composed of ribbons of elasticated fabric in soft pastels that can be clipped together at will creating a bespoke and constantly changing screen.
Over in the Fine Art show, the line between art and design became ever more blurred with printmaker Ashley Rich creating a ceramic cityscape and sculptor Alex Strachan creating a room divider in metal and finished in a pinky flesh tone.
Another print graduate incorporating traditional design principles is Evguenia Jokhova whose vast city blueprint covered an entire wall.
Where will this art/design crossover end? And how? That remains to be seen, but one thing we can be sure of is the quality of this year's graduating class. Some names to watch!