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DMU students impress at showcase for design talent


It’s the shop window for the freshest, brightest design talent in the country – and gifted students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) put on an award-winning display.

INSET Sophie Hingston

The striking work of DMU Design Crafts students scooped the coveted Best Stand Award at the influential New Designers exhibition in London this week. A collection of home interiors textiles with hand-drawn designs by DMU Textile Design student Sophie Hingston won the W’innovate and Wilko Award, while Design Crafts student Alice Funge also won two awards with her ceramic bakeware collection.

The plaudits did not end there for DMU. Sophie and Alice were personally selected by New Designers sponsor Sainsbury’s to show their work alongside a display of the supermarket giant’s own homewares in a prime spot near the entrance of the hall at the Business Design Centre. And to cap a winning week in the capital, Alice was handed the Sainsbury’s One to Watch award at the show.

Sophie’s collection of wall coverings, cushions and fabrics heavily influenced by Japanese botanical art was titled ‘Nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect’. It was lauded by the judges who called it: “An excellent commercial collection of prints that demonstrate a varied handwriting style, using a strong palette with a confident interpretation into a range of homeware products.”

THUMB stand New Designers

The 23-year-old, originally from Oxfordshire, won a £1,000 prize – and a two week work placement at design consultancy W'innovate with a contribution of up to £500 towards expenses.

“I’m still in a bit of shock to have won,” she said. “I was told I’d been shortlisted, and they read out some other awards before mine, so it was a bit scary waiting … and when they said my name everyone from the DMU stand was screaming and cheering.

“It’s amazing. Just to be able to go and get some experience with a major manufacturer is really good. Hopefully this will kick start my career in design.

“Designing is such a long process and there are moments when you don’t think that anyone’s going to be interested, so it’s great to have recognition for all the hard work and my enthusiasm for the course and industry.

“Getting to New Designers has been an aim of mine since I was in the second year – and it’s really good to be on the Sainsbury’s stand as well. It’s created a lot of interest in our work.”

Alice, who is originally from Warwickshire, produced a set of pieces showed a collection of hand-thrown ceramics influenced by her love of baking which was finished off with a personal flourish – her Grandma’s own handwritten recipes.

“I was very excited to be selected,” said the 22-year-old. “It’s amazing to see my work next to Sainsbury's home products.

“I have six pieces on the Sainsbury’s stand, and having anything on it at all is such a privilege. And then, out of the blue, they came up and handed me the Sainsbury’s One to Watch award. I really wasn’t expecting it at all.”

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Sophie and Alice were among more than 30 Textile Design, Fashion Textiles and Accessories and Design Crafts degree students who seized their chance to shine at the London exhibition – which spotlights the skills and the flair of the pick of the crop of young designers emerging from British universities.

“It’s so exciting for the students to have their work at New Designers,” said Imogen Aust, programme leader for the Design Crafts BA (Hons) at DMU.

“It’s quite nerve-racking too. They’re showing their work amongst students from every design programme in the country, from Scotland to Falmouth. They’re among the best of their peers.”

Imogen said the Best Stand Award was a testament to the hard work of the DMU Design Crafts team.  “This has been a great effort from both the staff and the students,” she said.

“Our graduates have learned a huge amount from working as a group to prepare the stand. It was important for us to balance colour and texture, and develop a simplistic approach that saw work in different disciplines presented together.

“Winning this award is a wonderful recognition of the effort made by all involved.”

New Designers is a two-part show that highlights the work of more than 3,000 students from across the UK. Part 1 runs until this Saturday, and is promoting the Design Crafts and Textile Design degree courses.

Part 2 runs from next Wednesday to Saturday and features the work of DMU students on the Product and Furniture Design courses.

The students showing their work at New Designers were joined by DMU Design Crafts graduates Cisca Collins, a ceramics artist, and glass designer Alice Heaton for the One Year On section of the show, which catches up with the careers of former students who are forging their careers after leaving university.

Alice Funge said her Design Crafts BA (Hons) course had helped her grow as a maker. “I’ve definitely enjoyed this course,” she said. “It’s given me a lot more confidence in my ability.”

Posted on Friday 30th June 2017

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