London’s New Designers 2014: Part 2

Stylish compact living and eco-friendly materials dominated the second half of the UK graduate exhibition

Following Part One of London’s annual New Designers graduate exhibition, Part Two focused on Visual Communications, Furniture & Product Design and Motion Arts & Theatre Design. This year, two themes dominated the display of works put forth by the budding UK designers: stylish compact living and eco-friendly, recyclable materials. Below are five favorites whose work was finished to such high standard, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it in design stores soon.

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Jack Chivers’ clever desk cabinet is painted in eye-catching hues of blue, gray and pink, but it’s not just the colors that caught our attention. The cabinet, made for small living spaces, can be easily turned into a desk. Drawers are clipped onto the sides, increasing the work space and functioning as miniature cupboards, while the bottom unit can be used as a side table or as a seat, as the lid, when flipped, turns out to have a pillow underneath it. Chivers worked as a scenic carpenter and prop-maker before starting his degree at the National School of Furniture at Buckinghamshire New University, and the ease and speed of his desk’s transformation evokes the small, quick adjustments between scenes that completely change a theater set.


Also from National School of Furniture was Charlotte Brocklehurst, who chose to work with glass for an earlier project at the university and enjoyed working with the medium so much that she used it again for her graduate show. Her beautiful wooden bowls are created after their hand-blown glass lids are finished, and hewn to match the measurements. The colors of the lids are a surprise every time: “You can’t really see what shade they will become until the glass has cooled down,” Brocklehurst says.


Easily some of the most fun and stylish of the eco-friendly products at the show were Sam Whitten’s eyewear frames, made from recycled plastic or pressed hemp. The hemp frames are made from plant fiber and are the first of their kind, though the design is a classic. Every pair is unique and the hemp is covered in environmentally friendly epoxy resin for added longevity. Using polarized lenses from Polaroid, the glasses are a hip alternative to plastic frames and lighter than wooden ones, making them a good, green choice for summer.


A product designer and barista, Courtney Brennan combined his two roles to create a new coffeemaker, called Balance. Wanting to “bring barista-quality coffee into the home,” Brennan—of Edinburgh Napier University—designed the handsome contraption, which features a brew chamber that you fill with ground coffee and screws on top of a pot of water. The user then inverts the brewer and twists its cap, starting the brewing process and creating a freshly crafted cup of coffee within four minutes. The simplicity of the process means that each cup should come out the same: completely perfect.


Charles Parford-Plant, from London’s Kingston University, was among the students who looked at how to produce everyday items in a more organic and less wasteful way. His “Re-Writable” designs consist of layered cardboard that can be used to house hard-drives and as an alternative to plastic in USB sticks, routers and radios. The designs have a pleasing, retro feel and eschew screws or glue—instead relying on rubber bands for easy disassembly. As we make more and more electronic purchases and keep them for shorter periods of time than before, cutting out plastic waste should be an attractive proposal for manufacturers.

Images courtesy of Cajsa Lykke Carlson