Invest in a Maker, Glory in their Marks, and Share the Secrets of their ToolsInvest in a Maker, Glory in their Marks, and Share the Secrets of their ToolsInvest in a Maker, Glory in their Marks, and Share the Secrets of their Tools

Invest in a Maker, Glory in their Marks, and Share the Secrets of their Tools

As part of London Craft Week 2017, Design-Nation has launched an exploratory exhibition and accompanying microsite featuring twentyfour of its members, developed in partnership with design champion and journalist Barbara Chandler.

Barbara poses the question, “What makes every craftsperson unique?” Arguably, it's the “marks” they leave on their materials, from the big picture of shape and colour and overall texture, to the smaller details of lips, rims, spouts, cuts, joints, edges, seams, pleats, folds, stitches and so on.
And as we reveal, every maker has a different background, motivations, inspirations, and surroundings, all of which may significantly affect their work.

Design-Nation includes established and respected makers like glass artist MIchael Ruh Studio. Michael uses an array of metal calipers and other tools to scribe delicate lines on his hand-blown glass: marks that evoke windblown grasses on seaside sand-dunes and enhance the simple shapes and distinctive colours of his tableware and lightshades. Michael works constantly, with a kiln that is never off and says, “making is my language”.

Another well-known exhibitor is weaver and textile designer Margo Selby. While her product range has expanded over the last decade from just hand-woven scarves and accessories to include a wide array of textiles for interiors - bed linen, towels, cushions, throws, and floor rugs and runners - hand weaving is still at the core of Margo’s work. All designs start in her studio through her own work. Margo says, “my loom keeps me driven” and in recent years has returned to hand production of one-off pieces, created by simple passes of the loom with her beautiful wood shuttles, to make striking pieces that exemplify the unique Margo Selby approach to colour and composition. 

Like Margo, ceramicist Sue Pryke has created designs for major brands, but is happiest in her own studio making her own pieces of slipcast tableware. Sue’s deceptively simple and classic shapes in bowls, cups, spoons, jugs and teapots are created with careful pouring of liquid clay between a myriad of plastic jugs and moulds, to get the thickness of each piece exactly right. Later she adds colour: finely distinguishing hues of grey, blue, cream and other pastels. Certain shades of blue-grey are practically Sue Pryke trademarks now. “Just do what you love,” she advises and there is no doubt that many people love her work.
Design Nation Showcase Micro-Website
The physical exhibition is accompanied by a specially designed website, created by Design-Nation members The Unloved, in close consultation with Barbara Chandler. Each exhibitor is profiled with compelling images and designers, products, and of course the tools used to make their work.

To read the full interviews by Barbara Chandler please visit the microsite here.

The exhibition is at gallery@oxo, Oxo Tower, Bargehouse Street, London SE1 9PH, until Sunday 7 May and is open 11am-6pm daily.

We are thankful for the support of Arts Council England and our partners London Craft Week and Coin Street Community Builders.

Images courtesy of the makers.

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Arts Council England generously supports Design-Nation future

Arts Council England generously supports Design-Nation future

Press Release

Thursday 15 December 2016


Prestigious creative agency and membership organisation Design-Nation has been awarded almost £80,000 in Research and Development funding from Arts Council England to sustain a fifteen month period of development.

This period of development will commence in early 2017 and allows Design-Nation to undertake significant sector research and to create new opportunities for its designer-maker members, and to launch at least two new showcases. With its sister organisations Design Factory and The National Centre for Craft & Design, the Design-Nation team will explore new models of operation and partnership that will be most effective in supporting their portfolio of illustrious designer-makers in creating new products, exploring new processes and researching new markets.

Clare Edwards, who runs Design-Nation, Design Factory and The National Centre for Craft & Design says, “We are delighted that through this grant the Arts Council is recognising our efforts in support of British-based craft and design people. Design-Nation has a great history and many fantastic supporters and partners in the design sector. We look forward to delivering our exciting new programme across the UK and will be announcing our first new showcase early in 2017.”

Notes to Editors

About Design-Nation

Design-Nation was founded almost twenty years ago by the late Peta Levi MBE, a writer, design champion and curator, who previously founded the prestigious talent-spotting showcase New Designers in the 1980s. Design-Nation offers a one stop destination for retailers, manufacturers and press together with industry professionals who want to commission, invest and source Great British design.

Design-Nation is positioned as the premier level of membership network for designer-makers in the UK, with both a national and international profile. Membership is selected by peers and industry professionals and is open to all practices of Craft, Product and Design in the UK and Ireland. Members have access to benefits, subsidised exhibition opportunities and group networking within Design-Nation. Friends of the organisation include Decorex International, New Designers and The Barbican.  

About Design Factory

Design Factory is the UK’s leading creative agency for the support and development of craft and design practice and was founded in 2005.  With over 200 members Design Factory promotes artistic integrity, raises the standard of craft and design and commercially supports designer-makers through a renowned programme of development opportunities, including: one-to-one advice; critical reviews; events; group exhibition opportunities here and overseas; peer support; training and CPD; mentoring; pop-up shop opportunities; and marketing.

About The National Centre for Craft & Design

The National Centre for Craft & Design is the largest gallery in the UK dedicated to the celebration, support and promotion of national and international contemporary craft and design.  The Centre, which will celebrate its 15th anniversary in 2018, aims to stimulate greater understanding of contemporary craft and design and provide enriching arts and cultural experiences for everyone through a dynamic programme of high quality exhibitions, participatory learning, events and retail.  The Centre, together with Design-Nation and Design Factory, is a cultural service from North Kesteven District Council, operated under contract by Leisure in the Community Ltd.

Image of Design-Nation showcase at Decorex shows work by (clockwise from top left) Michael Ruh, Linda Bloomfield, Anna Gravelle, Amy Cushing, Rosemaryrose and Heidi Harrington. Photo by Jim Ellam.

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