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Another 23 Designers Join Design-Nation

 Blossom Abstract by Ally Powell

Last month our independent section panel had the happy task of reviewing the latest tranche of applications to join Design-Nation, an impressive array of colour, pattern, texture, shapes, materials, experiences and skills. As a result 23 more exciting designer-makers have joined us, across all levels of our membership programme.

Eleven are now full members of our portfolio. Reflecting current trends in craft and design, over half of these are working in ceramics, while the other five have practices that encompass a multitude of textiles, fibres and paper.

Our new ceramicists are partly scattered across the Midlands: from her base in Derbyshire established designer Sarah Heaton has set out to forge a new and exciting sculptural direction after more than two decade honing her skills and knowledge in industry. In contrast Laura Plant lives and works in the heart of ceramics, Stoke-on-Trent, where her developing practice draws on Stoke’s archives, notable histories and distinctive forms of legacy vessels. In Nottingham Ally Powell’s contemporary decorative pieces playfully evoke the creative process as brush strokes and scribbles, in sculpture and lighting. We congratulate Laura and Ally on successfully applying to moving up from our Graduate programme.

Further south Amy Frankie Smith’s Flux Surface brand celebrates the translucent beauty of porcelain through her clean-lined lighting products, made in her Sussex studio. Polish-born Ania Perkowska makes striking yet simple vessels influenced by modernist architecture and employing a deliberately restricted range of materials, processes and glazes. Our sixth ceramicist is Anne Gibbs who brings to her sculptures a delicate sensibility informed by in-depth research in Japan and a love of Dutch still life painting. In her Cardiff studio Anne assembles three dimensional ‘collages’ that draw on nature.

Our new textile and fibre designers have very different backgrounds and approaches, but are all making work that is pleasing to the eye, and sometimes challenging in exciting ways. Hanny Newton’s contemporary embroidery practice is underpinned by a formal training at the renowned Royal School of Needlework and a love of traditional metal thread techniques, reimagined in her Shropshire studio as subtle and sophisticated panels for smart interiors. Nell Swift runs her woven textile Hem: Handwoven brand between two contrasting locations, in the Derbyshire Peak District and the coast of  North Yorkshire. Nell’s handmade double weave throws have multi-hued palettes that evoke the sea and local heathers.

In Hove there’s everything to celebrate about Bianca Williams Design, a homewares print business launched in lockdown in 2021. Bianca brings commercial knowledge accrued from a long career in design for major retailers to her new initiative, rejoicing in the colours and shapes of the natural world and reinterpreting these through processes of drawing and collage. Our tenth new member is Jennifer Collier, a talented and innovative designer in recycled papers, drawing from vintage books and maps to make quirky and charming decorative wares. Jennifer is also a craft champion, running an admired gallery, workshops and studio spaces in rural Staffordshire to support other makers.

Our final selected designer in this intake is the remarkable and completely unique Jo Cope, a master of conceptual footwear and other fashion pieces, working both by hand and in digital design to create striking and memorable artworks. Jo challenges our notions about clothing and the self, using leather, cloth and wood in her one-off works, and she has collaborated widely across the arts and design. As a champion for neurodivergent creative pratice, Jo was also appointed as a new  Brand Ambassador for Design-Nation in January 2022.

Our other new members include seven recent Graduates: Bircan Harper (ceramics and mixed media, Cornwall), Cathy Green (ceramics, London – her work can be seen at New Ashgate Gallery’s annual Rising Stars which opens this week), Lindey Tydeman (jewellery, London), Millie Morgan (textiles, Hereford), Sue Gunn (ceramics, London – Sue’s work will be on display at Morley College’s graduate show til the end of March), Tara MacDonald (textiles, Sussex) and Yuka Jourdain (jewellery, Peak District).

Our Associates membership also continues to grow as we welcome five more diverse makers over this winter. David William Sampson Ceramics is in Nottinghamshire and Deborah Coleman Designs creates textile print products in London. Evy Valles Sessions of EMVS Design is in her final year of the Design Crafts degree at De Montfort University in Leicester, Gina Nadal of Woven Memories lives and works in Manchester, and  Lorraine Singer Ceramics is based in East Sussex.

Design-Nation salutes all of these talented designer-makers at so many stages of their respective careers, as they join our portfolio. Our team looks forward to supporting and promoting them as they grow their creative businesses.


On News index page: Jo Cope with her work The Slipper and the Rose. Handcrafted in leather and wood, this installation in three parts is symbolic of the rose in three different states, illustrated through 15 individually crafted female shoes.

On carousel: Black Vessel with Brush Strokes by Ania Perkowska, wheel-thrown stoneware with porcelain slip brush marks 2022. Photo Alan Callender.

Limited edition Penguin Jugs by Jennifer Collier, stitched vintage paper book covers, 2022.

Detail of Oval by Sarah Heaton. Thrown, altered, slipped, transferred stoneware, 2021.

Wave Droplet Lamp by Flux Surface, carved porcelain, 2021.

Doodle Copper by Hanny Newton, copper thread hand embroidery, 2021.

Abstract Blossom Tangled Sculpture by Ally Powell, slipcast porcelain, 2021.

Staithes Colour Chart by Hem: Handwoven. Block twill pima cotton, 2021.

Lost and Found by Anne Gibbs, bone china and porcelain, 2022.

Selection of Fallen Leaves tea towels by Bianca Williams Design.

Thrown and extruded porcelain Trials by Laura Plant, 2021.

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Liz Cooper


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