The Design-Nation community benefit from our lively programme of activities, which include Study Days. So what is a study day? It’s a themed day trip, an opportunity for professional designer-makers to get out of their studios and connect with their peers, with others in the sector and visit intriguing exhibitions, events and centres of excellence, often with exclusive behind-the-scheme access. Each day has a theme, which provides multiple opportunities to experience other ways of thinking and making, processes and products.
DN members relish these events as a great way to research informally and in a friendly atmosphere. Study Days offer insights into how others work, and how things get made. We’ve visited the last two British Ceramic Biennials and other associated places in Stoke-on-Trent; and investigated making in metal in Sheffield, including Wentworth Pewter’s factory and specialist museums.
Our most recent Study Day took place last month. It was themed around weaving, and hosted by the team at Margo Selby Studio in Whitstable. Over a dozen makers travelled to this charming seaside town to see Margo’s impressive sales and production set-up and to meet her lovely team. The visitors also got an exclusive look at Margo’s home studio where she develops her art pieces, and heard an inspiring talk by fellow DN member and weaver Beatrice Larkin. The June weather was perfect for lunch al fresco, and attendees had the chance to stay on at the end of the day for the launch of the Whitstable Biennial Week.
Hearing about Margo’s design processes and techniques was of course especially valuable to others in the same line of work. Dr Hannah White loved it:
‘It was such a special day. The event was a rare opportunity to meet with fellow weavers and to share experiences. Margo is so inspirational and generous with her knowledge and she was the perfect host. It was really good to catch up with Margo and also to meet new Design-Nation friends whom I had only ever seen on Zoom! It felt like being in a creative bubble for the day with like-minded people, which was lovely after not being able to see many people face to face due to the pandemic. We were lucky with the weather too and we enjoyed a seafront walk from Margo’s home to her studio in town. I’m so glad that I was able to be part of it and a big thank you to Design-Nation, to Margo and her team for organising it.’
Feltmaker Rachel Morley travelled from Leicestershire. She said, ‘I did really enjoy the day and thought it great value. Margo, her husband and her team were all really welcoming and our lunch was utterly delicious too. The extra speakers were great too and a real bonus to the whole day. Margo’s studio in Whitstable town was so exciting to see… and I’m not a weaver! Her colours and textures are so inspiring to me as a felter. All in all, a great opportunity, so thank you Design-Nation.’
Other participants very much enjoyed it too, despite not working in textiles. London-based jeweller Ella Fearon-Low found the experience ‘utterly blissful and inspirational’. Ella joined us just before the pandemic, so she loved meeting other DN members and messaged: ‘So glad it happened and the weather was perfect to boot. Looking forward to the next adventure with you all.’
Another member with a jewellery background is Angela Fung, who now creates origami-inspired architectural installations with her partner Ashley, trading as Fung + Bedford. Angela joined the event as she is always curious to see how other practitioners work and ‘approach life/work/etc’. She knew Margo Selby a little and, ‘feel I would benefit from her wisdom. I’d not been to Whitstable before and loved it! Beautiful little place.’ Like the others, Angela thoroughly enjoyed chatting with fellow DN members and catching up, sharing ups and downs, and exploring approaches to design and making. A valuable lesson she took from the day came from Margo’s advice to the group: ‘Trust your gut and continue doing what you do.’
If you are a professional designer-maker in the UK who would like to join our next Study Day, apply to join Design-Nation today. We are warm and welcoming, a knowledgeable community of peers; we collaborate to make great events and showcases with our wide network of partners and advisers.
Next Membership deadline is 1st August – contact us for a joining pack now.