I have been very fortunate over the years to meet and work with the talented students from the University of Brighton’s excellent 3D Design & Craft and product design degrees.
The first ever winner of the Designing for the Future competition in 2010 was Harry Trimble. Then a second year student, Harry was immediately impressive with a willingness to engage and explore the very challenging subject of designing for older people. Harry graduated with first class honours before studying for an MA in Service Design at the Royal College of Arts. He is now Head of Design at Made Tech.
I met Chloe Meineck the following year. Also a student on the 3D Design & Craft course, she entered her product The Hub into the DFF competition. The Hub was a precursor of the award winning Music Memory Box which she had continued to develop and some 11 years later is the focus of her design studio in Bristol, Studio Meineck.
That same year, I met with Hanna Mawbey. Hanna was about to graduate and was working on a series of beautiful objects designed for people with disabilities. After teaching for several years at the University’s International College, in 2019 Hanna set up her own design and craft shop in Worthing, Heavy Gretel where she identifies and nurtures new emerging talents such as Eleanor Owens and Eva Malley as well as supporting more established artists and makers such as Sylvia K and Alice Barnes, many of whom are also Brighton alumni.
Runner up of the 2013 competition was Jack Durling. Jack is a hugely talented artist who draws, paints and makes beautiful ceramic sculptures inspired by his love of animals and passion for conservation. Jack has worked with the Michael Aldrich Foundation on many community arts projects, producing extraordinary collaborative art such as where he worked with 120 primary school children to create a stunning installation of colourful windsocks as part of the Open Houses Festival during Brighton Festival. Jack was chosen as a Craft Council Hothouse talent in 2020 and in 2021 was invited to take part in numerous shows including Celebrating Ceramics and the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair Manchester.
Another runner up, this time in 2016, was Tom Meades. Tom was an enthusiastic part of the DFF team from the beginning and has continued to work with the Michael Aldrich Foundation. As part of his final year project, Tom designed the Gomi speakers which are the world’s first consumer tech product made from, and completely powered by, waste products, with each speaker creating new life for around 100 recycled plastic bags. Now with his own design studio in the Brighton Lanes, Tom has continued his post-graduation success story by winning a prestigious £10,000 award at Milan Design Week.
Also part of the DFF programme that year were Eli Heath and Pete Barr who were studying product design, Eli and Pete went on to set up two new businesses after graduation, one Enayball which makes painting accessible to wheelchair users and the other born out of the pandemic, Soapstone.
It is always exciting to watch the new generations of artists, makers and designers emerging. With a new focus on supporting enterprise, the passion and expertise of the lecturers and tutors (many of whom are practitioners in their own right) and new collaborations with organisations such as Plus X, I am looking forward to continuing to work with the University of Brighton on a new project to be announced soon.