This is the perfect time to find a new model for design

One of the best commentaries on the recession and how creativity can ride it came last week from celebrated architect Amanda Levete.

Speaking to graduates at the New Designers show at London’s Business Design Centre, she made no bones about the toughness of the times, but urged the audience to use the situation to their advantage. ‘There is a financial crisis, but there is not a creative crisis,’ she said.

With everything in flux, not just in design, but in all sectors and across the globe, the future is there for the taking, she implied. We need new models of how we do things and creativity is a fantastic tool for developing them. In Levete’s words, ‘It is a time to be bold.’

Judging by New Designers award-winners over the two weeks of the show, this year’s graduates are already on-message. Last week’s BDC New Designer of the Year winner, Nicola Morgan from Northumbria University, is a case in point, crossing over deftly from fashion to product design in her Alterpretations collection, through an ingenious melding of materials and acute attention to detail.

Morgan is itching to take up her place at the Royal College of Art, where she is keen to collaborate with product design students as much as with her peers in the fashion department. That sentiment is already heeded by many at the RCA and beyond, with enquiry and experimentation crossing disciplines freely.

Graphic designer Lizzie Mary Cullen has also pushed boundaries through passion for her craft. Her psycho-geography illustrations, which won her last week’s One Year On top prize, are an outstanding example of work that gives imagination full rein – as, indeed, did Ruth Ashton’s fanciful embroidered illustrations that won her the prize the previous week.

Exceptional designers – like Levete – burst through the ranks with each generation. But rarely is the die cast quite as it is now for true innovation to reshape all that we do, not just the techniques and processes of design.

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