Kingston flies the flag for UK graduate designers at Salone

Kingston University and Glasgow School of Art will represent the UK at Milan furniture fair’s Salone Satellite exhibition in April. This year’s show will offer exposure to designers from 24 international universities.

Glasgow is there to show its collaborative work with six other design schools, created as part of the Master of European Design programme. Kingston is exhibiting work by nine graduates and postgraduates from its product and furniture design course, who are hoping to make fruitful connections with manufacturers.

’A lot of students finish their degree and then they are lost,’ says Kingston University’s faculty of art, design and architecture business development manager Peter Christian, who is bringing the students’ work to Milan. ’In the UK, this sort of event is rare, but in Italy manufacturers have long supported and collaborated with the design sector to create things like this,’ he adds.

Christian joined Kingston last year to help build the university’s links with industry. His background as managing director of several furniture and lighting design groups is proving useful, not least in bagging Kingston a place at Salone. Christian admits that his relationship with Milan furniture fair president Carlo Guglielmi could have something to do with Kingston’s selection, Guglielmi being one of his design clients. ’Well, most things are nepotism,’ Christian points out.

He has high hopes for the fair. ’I would like manufacturers there to get interested in our students’ work and take them on, so in a few years they’ll be the names we’re talking about.’

Kingston University 2009 graduate and Salone exhibitor Helena Karelson says the projects on show were chosen to ’show the course’s breadth’ and that ’these are the products that are most easily commercialised, while others may have been more conceptual or research-based’, she says.

Karelson is one of just two of the nine Kingston exhibitors attending the fair. She hopes that Kontuur, her venetian blinds-based project, will attract attention from manufacturers, but is prepared to help promote her absent colleagues’ work, too. ’I am there to promote the course, and everyone else’s work, as well as my own, and while good job offers would be exciting, so would attracting anyone who wants to work with the university on a large project,’ she says.

Christian says his first priority is to boost the university’s profile, which he intends to do through publicising its history, its new courses in design for the developing world and service design, and its alumni. He is contemplating putting a publication together, featuring information about the university and showing the work of its famous alumni such as James Irvine, Jasper Morrison, Michael Young, Simon Pengelly and David Chipperfield.

’Kingston has a real legacy in design, but it has been a bit forgotten recently, so I need to remind people about it,’ he says.

Salone Satellite takes place at the Milan furniture fair from 14-19 April

Kingston University students showing at Salone Satellite 2010

  • Dan Rawlings – Heat-shrink vases and glass trestles
  • Yu-Hun Kim – Ewe stools made of laminated felt stools
  • Geoff Marsh – Mirror with shelf
  • Helena Karelson – Kontuur ’wavy’ window blinds
  • Michael Antrobus – Ground scissors and tape holders
  • Ryan Sorrell – Clamped, a range of clamps that double as table legs
  • Tom Brett – Antelope 2 chair, based on Ernest Race’s 1951 Café chair
  • Future Industries – recycled plastic bowls and plates

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