New Designers returns with projects that tackle social issues

This year, the showcase of up-and-coming designers’ work challenges everything from ‘manspreading’ and loneliness in older people, to sustainability and smart phone addiction.

New Designers, the annual showcase which features 3,000 promising design graduates from the UK and beyond, launches today with a focus on wide-ranging social issues.

University of Brighton 3D design and craft graduate, Laila Laurel, has designed a statement pair of chairs as a “solution for manspreading”, which reverse the typical seating positions of a man and a woman.

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A solution for ‘manspreading’, by Laila Laurel

Inspired by The Everyday Sexism Project, a website created by writer Laura Bates, Laurel’s chairs “give a physicality to an issue woman face in a fun yet literal way”.

Social issues prevail at the show. Amy Ottley, an illustrator from Plymouth College of Art, has designed Ruby, a menstrual subscription service with boxes which looks to “change the negative relationship women have with their periods” through its “vibrant” packaging and branding.

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Ruby, by Amy Ottley

Click, a smart device that connects to an app, designed by Will Griffiths, a product design and management graduate from Aston University, connects isolated older people based on shared interests.

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Click, by Will Griffiths

Another focus is sustainability. Falmouth University sustainable product design graduate Milo Mehta has created fully biodegradable trainers. The Moe shoes are made from completely natural materials and are allegedly designed to last a lifetime, thanks to their replaceable parts.

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The Moe show, by Milo Mehta

Oscar Watts, another student from Falmouth’s sustainable product design course, has designed a modular chair that grows throughout a person’s life, in an attempt to create long-lasting furniture and reduce waste.

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Modular chair, by Oscar Watts

Tom Bryant, an industrial design and technology graduate from Loughborough University, has designed Koko, which aims to stop smart phone addiction and improve mental wellbeing. The home ecosystem includes a dock to create a divide between smartphones and their users, as well as a table light that aims to reduce users’ digital dependency.

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Koko, by Tom Bryant

On a similar theme, The Sit Still Studio’s textiles use colour, form and shape to encourage rest. The Welsh studio uses locally sourced, natural materials such as organic sheep’s wool and ash to create interior products like mattresses and room dividers.

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Room divider and mattress, by The Sit Still Studio

Sarah Monk, portfolio director at New Designers, says: “In times of turmoil, creativity is known to flourish. The new generation of designers exhibiting in this year’s showcase are creating forward-thinking, innovative and exciting designs.

“They not only fly the flag for UK creativity, they also have the potential to make a truly global impact,” she adds.

Now in its 34th year, New Designers has featured some of the UK’s leading designers such as Bethan Gray, Jay Osgerby and Lee Broom. Last year, the show was rebranded by Village Green in an attempt to refresh its “dull and dated” identity.

The show is split into two parts, with the first week focusing on textiles and fashion and the second week on furniture, graphic and product design.

New Designers takes place from 26-29 June and 3-6 July at the Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, London N1 0QH. Tickets start from £7.50. For more info, head here.

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