Two furniture design courses are boycotting the Business Design Centre’s New Designers show in July and setting up a rival exhibition near London’s Business Design Centre.
Students on the contemporary furniture course at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College and the furniture-related product design course at Kingston University say the move is in response to New Designers’ lack of a ‘qualitative’ selection process and what they claim are ‘slipping’ standards.
New Designers operates a pay-to-show policy, rather than selecting people on merit, which means the event is overcrowded and it is becoming increasingly hard to get noticed, says Buckinghamshire Chilterns third-year student and course representative John Flinn.
The show is traditionally a showcase for young design students and graduates to get noticed by the industry.
‘If you are exhibiting your work with the masses, it is harder to get noticed,’ says Flinn. ‘A show for just ourselves and Kingston will give us more opportunity to make contacts,’ he adds.
New Designers fair manager Veronica Tierney says the show is a platform for design graduates to present their work and students make lots of contacts.
‘More than 25 000 people visit each year. Last year’s [Buckinghamshire Chilterns] course did well from it as it was very well prepared and had a great stand,’ she says. ‘I would be disappointed if [the colleges] didn’t take part.’
She also defends the selection process. ‘We don’t reject anyone, but we sometimes cannot accommodate all because of space,’ Tierney says. In this case, selection is usually based on whether colleges have previously exhibited.
Buckinghamshire Chilterns and Kingston are currently looking for sponsorship and exhibition space nearby, says Flinn.
They are ‘playing around’ with a name and an identity, possibly a spoof around the New Designers strapline, Safety Kills Creativity, Flinn adds. ‘We are considering a slightly irreverent take on New Designers,’ he says.
Flinn and his colleagues first mooted the idea of a separate show last summer.