Showcasing excellence, sustainability and diversity in craft & design
Our Journey captures important milestones in the evolution of Design-Nation’s portfolio of leading contemporary designer-makers from across the UK. A showcase of diverse material-led practices, Our Journey emphasises excellence and beauty of design and craftsmanship, and highlights the sector’s increasingly committed focus on innovative ways to address sustainability and embrace ethical making.
Since the 1990s, Design-Nation has been championing excellence in craft, design and product, supporting some of the UK’s very best designer-makers through every stage of creative and business practice. Today the Design-Nation portfolio comprises a rich and diverse pool of highly skilled designer-makers whose collective works demonstrate authentic, exceptional craftsmanship and design ability.
This major exhibition celebrates an impressive selection of 25 designer-makers from Design-Nation. Working in ceramics, digital technologies, glass, leather, metal, repurposed materials, textile and wood, selected members embody the values that have now become the most important aspects of Design-Nation today. If this summary provokes interest, please follow the links to our online showcase find out more about the themes and exhibiting designer-makers – or explore the virtual tour.
Inventive design solutions, refined and beautiful objects, curiosity about materials and their capabilities, and the constant creative push to come up with astounding new work — each member has been selected for EXCELLENCE.
While Design-Nation is focused on contemporary making, knowledge of traditional methods and materials is essential. Great examples of how traditional making underpins beautiful contemporary design can be seen in the vibrant abstract quilt designs of Georgia Bosson, impressive clusters of geometric slipcast ceramic lighting by Anna Thomson, and the delicately coloured handblown glass vessels of Scott Benefield.
Climate challenge is a critical issue that faces us all. SUSTAINABILITY and ethical practice have become increasingly important focuses and subject matters for many creative entrepreneurs. Sustainability of health is also important, with several members addressing mental illness, bereavement, and the potential of the natural world to heal and bring joy. In particular, Janine Partington’s new multi-part work Her Journey inspired the exhibition title.
Sculptural pieces by Charlie Birtles are perhaps the ultimate in re-use, re-creating her own archive of works in a variety of found and repurposed materials, to form new artworks. Hannah Lobley shows rounded forms made using her own technique, Paperwood, moistening and layering wastepaper into a new solid material that she is then able to turn on a lathe, like wood.
Other exhibitors addressing sustainability include Linda Bloomfield whose ceramics celebrate the importance of lichen; Ash & Plumb’s use of local woods and making practices in their wooden vessels; Michaela McMillan’s embrace of recycled and donated materials for her lively assemblages; Alison Shelton Brown’s love of found matter like metal and sea-twine; and Momoka Gomi who is influenced by the Japanese tradition of Sakiori, upcycling worn denim into her weaving.
DIVERSITY is a rich quality that can be seen in many ways across Design-Nation’s portfolio and throughout this exhibition. Members use an impressive and diverse array of materials and processes, both traditional and cutting edge, creating functional objects, products, and artworks. The geographic diversity of the Design-Nation portfolio stretches across urban and rural locations throughout England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
Amongst Design-Nation’s many talented members in ceramics Julie Vernon stands out as a skilled mosaicist, and one who is challenging the traditional forms of this ancient craft through her new nature-inspired combinations of glass, ceramic, natural marble, and slate. Unexpected combinations are also found in Myra Hutton and Nick Rawcliffe’s collaboration, bringing Myra’s soft hand-felting together with Nick’s designs for moon-inspired lighting.
Excellence of practice is central to the ethos of Design-Nation’s portfolio. All designer-makers that apply for full membership are vetted by an independent selection panel that is drawn from a wide pool of industry experts including curators, writers, academics, manufacturers, retailers, gallerists, materials experts, senior designer-makers, and event organisers.