Design-Nation is delighted to partner again with our brand ambassador Barbara Chandler for her annual Green Grads event, a celebration of the best emerging talents in sustainable design and making.
Barbara has a great eye for the most exciting designers, and has long been a champion of recent graduates. So we had a tough job to select this year’s winners – there were so many exciting products and ideas on display. Our very well deserved winners are:
Sustainability Innovator Award: Bruno Schooling
Graduate Innovator Awards: Helen Munday, Elena Drew This
Bruno Schooling graduated this summer from the BA in Product Design & Craft at Manchester School of Art. The inspiration for Bruno’s project Ground is Keepers Cottage Organics, a 23-acre regenerative farm just outside of Bradwell in the Peak District National Park. Here, following organic principles and nurturing biodiversity, Katie Rubython has woodland for pigs, upland grazing for sheep and goats, and wild meadow fields.
Bruno has been exploring “wild” hand-dug clay bodies to which he added calcified and crushed organic bones from animals that had grazed the very same land, calling this “reconceptualised hyper-local bone china”. The result is an impressively large edition of roughly-textured plates, cups, bowls, and even cutlery in iron-rich earthy terracotta.
Currently, Bruno is developing Ground at his workshop in Stockport, hoping further to foster the use of local and sustainable materials.
Our first Graduate winner is Helen Munday who gained a BA Contemporary Design Crafts from Hereford College of Art in 2022. “I’m what’s called a New Traveller,” explains willow-weaver Helen, who’s lived a nomadic lifestyle all her adult life, raising three children as she travelled with a horse and wagon for 15 years. She explains that Travellers often make baskets from freely-available hedgerow materials, selling them door-to-door or from the road side.
“But I wanted to expand my knowledge of contemporary craft and widen my horizons as a maker.”
So Helen studied for a degree. “This has given me confidence to experiment and push boundaries from traditional basketry to contemporary design.” For Helen, sustainability is paramount. She lives off-grid in a truck she converted herself. “My lifestyle revolves around minimal waste and treading lightly on the earth.” Helen grows and harvests her own willow as well as foraging materials from her surroundings, for her striking lampshades and a variety of baskets.”
Our second Graduate winner is Elena Branch who gained BA Textile Design with Business Studies, University of Brighton in 2020. Elena is combating climate crisis with bold art prints, cards and fabrics, inspired by Russian Constructivism. Her strong motifs, confidently expressed in striking abstractions, nevertheless speak eloquently of environmental perils: melting ice caps, plastic pollution, bleaching of coral reefs. “I’m creating illustrations and prints to raise awareness.”
Elena is passionate about our planet. “The current climate crisis is the subject matter of my designs – combining eye-catching and bold graphics with educational messages. Personal favourites from my collection are Renewable Energy showing varying methods of sustainably harvesting energy – Hydro, Wind, and Solar – scattered throughout a scene of houses, trees, and electricity pylons, and Melting Ice– a simplistic one-layer screen print which uses various line weight and pattern to create a scene of fragmented ice floating in the ocean. Sustainability has always been at the forefront of my designs and therefore my business. Finding a way of merging design with an educational element has been the most important aspect of what I do.” My art prints and greetings cards carry an educational message on the reverse and are printed in the UK on 100% recycled card.”
We are delighted to welcome Bruno, Helen and Elena to our portfolio, and to work with them to develop their creative businesses and promote their important messages.