Having graduated from Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication in summer 2008, Max Frommeld is at the start of his professional career. But with the title New Designer of the Year under his belt, bestowed by an eminent jury at the highly respected New Designers graduate show in July, the Germanborn designer has a stronger chance than many of his peers with a degree in product and furniture design.
Sustainability underpins Frommeld’s work. But, unlike many designers, he takes it way beyond the use of recycled materials. Reusability and artefacts that perform a dual function were key to his graduate portfolio, and the ideas were executed with a rare elegance and simplicity.
But the project that first brought Frommeld to prominence addresses sustainability in the broadest sense. It is the laundry system he devised for the Audi Design Foundation’s Designs of Substance college contest, of which he was joint winner in 2007 with Maki Okawara, also from Ravensbourne, and Nirmal Menon, then at Kingston University.
Frommeld’s system, created for the township of Mdantsane in South Africa’s East London district, uses plastic bottles, twigs and cheap plastic bowls to wash clothes effectively without getting your hands wet or hurting your back. He even formulated a detergent out of wood ash.
Frommeld is among the best of a new wave of designers who blend social consciousness with good design. He is definitely one to watch.
Helen Hamlyn Centre:
While others shout out their achievements, some organisations just get on with it. And the outcome is often more spectacular.
One such organisation is the Helen Hamlyn Centre at the Royal College of Art. The centre works largely with postgraduate students at the RCA, collaborating with industry partners such as the Audi Design Foundation in the charity sector and institutions like the Victoria & Albert Museum in the cultural sector on projects promoting inclusive design.
But the projects on which HHC collaborates aren’t always entirely RCA-based. Recent initiatives include the Film It schools project that involves interaction design star Andy Cameron of Fabrica in northern Italy, which encourages school students to interact with each other through film.
Then there is the long-established collaboration with the Design Business Association on the annual Inclusive Design Challenge. For this, teams from UK design consultancies pit their wits against each other to create designs with an inclusive social dimension. Themes in the past have included designs for arthritic people, for the poorly sighted and for people with dementia. This year it will relate to our increasingly sedentary lives.
It is significant that HHC director Professor Jeremy Myerson has a journalist background – he was founder editor of Design Week. The centre may not shout about its work, but it does publish it in a highly professional way, which is great for it, the students involved and its collaborators.
Lord Alan Howarth:
Lord Alan Howarth makes it into the Hot 50 because of his passion for architecture and design, particularly housing. It is encouraging to have a politician pushing for changes to the Housing and Regeneration Bill that will write high quality design into the legislation.
Howarth’s political career began in 1983 as a Conservative MP for Stratford-on-Avon. He resigned as a Tory and joined the Labour Party in October 1995. His enthusiasm for quality design in buildings became clear when he was appointed chairman of the All-Party Architecture and Planning Group in 2005.
The Government plans to build three million new homes by 2020, with help from English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation. Howarth is targeting the objectives of the new Homes and Communities Agency that will be ratified with the passing of the Housing Bill. Appointing someone to the HCA’s 12-strong board who has ‘serious knowledge and proven commitment to design’ is key. Howarth is also trying to force through an amendment that will see all HCA homes subjected to reviews at preplanning stage.
An honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Howarth declared his interest in good housing design and other infrastructure projects in November 2008 when the House of Lords considered the Planning Bill. While he thinks the Government should remain at arms length when it comes to the arts, and never specify design, he believes the Government should foster good design in all walks of life.
If one figure stands out in the creative communities as representing the London Design Festival, it is surely William Knight. The tall, dark-haired figure plays a key role in design industry events throughout the year, from cultural missions to Poland to House of Commons working breakfasts, and all of the various social gatherings in between.
But it is in September, when the two-week festival is in full swing, that Knight comes into his own. As deputy director of the LDF, he is the catalyst – working with festival director Ben Evans – who collaborates with partners in the event, bringing them together under one umbrella.
The LDF was established in 2003 by Sir John Sorrell, largely to promote London and its creative talents to overseas investors and potential clients.
Sorrell sought to build on existing crowd-pullers, notably the 100% Design show of contemporary furniture, accessories, materials and architectural products. At its heart was the now defunct World Creative Forum, a conference geared to attracting highranking international delegates.
Funding was then provided entirely by the London Development Agency, but things have changed, with participants now contributing funds to supplement the event’s grant.
The LDF continues to grow, however, and is now a fixture on the international calendar, turning into an event that has been copied by cities across the globe. Knight’s role in its development has been crucial.
Martin Lambie-Nairn is synonymous with broadcast design. An early émigré from the BBC to private consultancy, he is often said to have established the discipline that, though highly specialised, has become a key element of design in the digital age.
Lambie-Nairn is best known for TV projects such as the Channel 4 identity, the original witty BBC Two idents that created a series of humorous characters based on the number of the channel, and the controversial BBC identity of the 1990s which brought print into line with on-screen requirements rather than the other way round, perhaps for the first time.
His appearance in this listing is more by way of a tribute to his achievements over a highly productive life, rather than a particular contribution over the past 12 months. He has won most awards, been President of D&AD, received the D&AD President’s Medal among other things, and is a Royal Designer for Industry.
In the early 1990s he threw in the lot of his then consultancy, Lambie-Nairn, with that of branding group Tutssels, to form Tutssels Lambie-Nairn. This was bought by WPP in 1999, eventually becoming
The Brand Union, and, having more than completed his earn out, Lambie-Nairn then extracted himself to set up on his own as ML-N in 2007. The next 12 months are full of promise for one of the UK’s most celebrated design pioneers, who, with characteristic modesty, describes himself as merely a ‘plumber’.