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Diverse Inspirations: new Design-Nation members

We have welcomed 23 new members this winter: fourteen makers join our online portfolio and nine recent graduates have signed up for the Design-Nation Graduate Programme. We’re delighted to introduce this wealth of talent, with an exciting diversity of disciplines, materials and inspirations across the portfolio.

Ceramics have always been a strength in our membership, an area of practice that embraces conceptual, delicate, sculptural and pragmatic; statement art pieces and slick design – all expressed in the latest four makers to join us. Their techniques are of course numerous, but a raku exponent is possibly a first for Design-Nation, so we’re pleased to welcome London-based Gaby Guz whose simple forms are marked so distinctively by this traditional, unpredictable and exciting firing process. By contrast Cornwall-based sculptor Lynne Speake has carefully incorporated her ceramics knowledge and making into complex assemblies of found materials – wood, copper, rubber and ink join paperclay, to make pieces that celebrate the unloved and discarded. Pratima Kramer’s figurative practice is an evocation of her childhood in Gujerat, building terracotta, cast glass and lively glazes to create her colourful and charming pieces. And our fourth ceramicist Anna Thomson in Sussex creates minimal and geometrically inspired vessel and lighting, joining our portfolio when she won our Made Makers award last November.

We’re pleased to have two very different glass makers join us: Graeme Hawes who is very well established as a maker and teacher, often working collaboratively. Graeme has a deep knowledge of traditional hot glass techniques, put to great effect in his colourful forms and bowls. Hannah Gibson has moved up successfully from our Graduate membership. Completing a masters in glass on top of a thoroughly scientific grounding and first degree in geology, Hannah brings serious knowledge and a commitment to ethical making to her quirky and nostalgic cast figures.

Our portfolio is often characterised by designer-makers with thoughtful and experimental approaches: jeweller Jo McAllister’s intriguing assemblages pay homage to gemstones and precious metals in narrative forms with intimate details and deceptively simple outlines; while Georgina Brett Chinnery’s award-winning bird inspired sculptures are skillfully crafted from leather, a nod to her background in upholstery, and exploring dark and important themes.

No DN membership selection round would be complete without some great textile and fibre, and we welcome six more impressive designer-makers here. First is Abeer Kayani, a Southampton-based print designer whose vibrant scarf collections and other accessories recall travel, transition and her family background in Pakistan. Selina Rose works from her Suffolk studio to create intricately felt and lively pieces for interiors that engage with all our senses, and with an impressive client list.

Weaving’s been having a moment in recent times and so we welcome four talented weaver designers from across the UK. Designer Beatrice Larkin is based in East London, hand drawing distinctive graphic patterns with “inky’ details, to be rendered into fine jacquard textiles at a Lancashire mill and consulting for retail and interiors. By contrast Liz Ramsay in Derbyshire handweaves individual artworks in silk and merino that explore family, separation and the emotions that we feel in difficult times. Llio James’ studio is in Cardiff, where she weaves exquisite throws and designs cloth for Welsh mills. Her experiments with colour and pattern are informed by her Welsh heritage and her sense of the importance of provenance. Last by not least, in Lancashire handweaver Sarah-May Johnson explores the patterns occurring in nature like Fibonacci sequence, hand-weaving subtly coloured and sculptural artworks with three dimensional elements.

Recently Design-Nation launched our Bring A Friend scheme, offering short term complimentary access to our membership programme and its benefits to makers who are, unsurprisingly, friends of existing members. This has been a great success, as four of the new makers profiled here applied to join after enjoying their “Friend” taste of Design-Nation.

We’re looking forward to getting to know all of our new members and finding ways to support and promote their practices.


Naked raku-fired bowls by Gaby Guz; Murrini Slice by Grames Hawes; “Look and Look Again” by Georgina Brett Chinnery; “Gifted And Found Pendant” by Jo McAllister; Rose Silk Scarf by Abeer Kayani; cushions by Beatrice Larkin; FOrm wall0hanging by Selina Rose.

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Liz Cooper


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