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Seven More Contemporary Designers Join Our Network

Design-Nation is a contemporary designer-maker network currently working shoulder to shoulder with partners across the craft and design sector to support the many talented creative entrepreneurs across the UK whose lives and livelihoods are impacted by COVID-19.

Our independent panel usually meet twice a year to consider new applications to the network, but the interest recently has been substantial, so we convened an extra panel last month. We are delighted to announce that seven more makers and designers impressed our selectors and will now join the Design-Nation membership.

At our February panel, glass artists were to the fore; now there’s a move to metal in a variety of forms. And we’re seeing renewed commitments to sustainable and environmentally aware practice.

Both Abigail Brown and Fleur Grenier make distinctive forms and vessels; Abigail in Cornwall working in Britannia and sterling silver on her art pieces, while Fleur in West Sussex is producing contemporary pewter tableware. We congratulate Norfolk-based silversmith Suzanne Seed on her move from our Graduate programme to full membership – she also makes striking tableware.

Lighting designer Sam Isaacs also use metal, as his “Reworked” brand combines re-purposed vintage kitchenware, bicycle and motor lamps, and even flotsam sourced from local Cornish beaches. Each piece incorporates playful new fittings and flexes, and they are encased in purpose-made and environmentally-considerate packaging.

Senior furniture designer Philip Koomen is a welcome addition to the Design-Nation portfolio, bringing an expert eye for graceful design and decades of experience and skill: he is a Fellow of both the Chartered Society of Designers and the Institute of Wood Science, and has a PhD in sustainable furniture design. Philip is based in Oxfordshire where he has shares in nearby community woodland.

Design-Nation is known for its innovative textile designers and this intake of new members is no exception, with weavers and textile artists Dawn Bache and Lizzie Kimbley both joining the fold. Dawn is based in East Yorkshire and adept at all parts of the process of creation, transforming her rare breed wool through spinning, dyeing, weaving and stitching by hand. Lizzie is a little further south, completing her masters with distinction last year at Norwich University, and is inspired by the Norfolk landscape, weaving and entwining her sustainably sourced materials to great effect.

Sustainability is a major theme running through this cohort of makers’ works: Abigail Brown uses recycled metal where possible and her new work explores reciprocity with the land; and Fleur Grenier’s lead-free pewter scraps and offcuts go back into the pot for re-use in future work. Suzanne Seed observes, “Silversmithing has a built-in system of reducing waste as we use every piece of silver, including the dust created when we saw it.”  These makers’ carbon footprints are low too, as the processes primarily happen in their own workshops, often co-located at their homes.

Dawn Bache says, “Rare breed British wool is an abundant resource which is local and self-sustaining each year. It demonstrates circular economy by sustaining livelihoods in the farming communities and wool manufacturing. It is also biodegradable.” Lizzie Kimbley specifically addresses the “Cradle to Cradle” approach, exploring responsible textiles and circular design, using natural materials, often locally found and waste products from other local designer-makers.

Philip Koomen sources and dries unusual and distinctive hardwoods within a small radius of his Oxfordshire-based workshop, focusing on under-utilised timbers, and uses low energy techniques such as steam-bending. And Sam Isaacs’ trading name “Reworked” makes it clear that his work is all about reuse and recycling: Sam tries to be plastic-free and uses water-based products wherever possible.

We’re very much looking forward to working with these seven clever and thoughtful designer-makers, supporting their practices, and introducing their work to our audiences and partners. Their profiles are our website (follow the links) and we’ll be highlighting their work on our social media feeds too, so do look out for more details online.

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Liz Cooper


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