Peta Levi MBE – Founder of Design-Nation
“An imaginative and indomitable champion of British Designers”
– Barbara Chandler.
Journalist, fund-raiser, innovator and campaigner, Peta Levi’s interest in writing about contemporary design grew into a real passion and a series of innovative projects, all of which have been landmarks in the support and promotion of British-based design and continuing to this day.
In the early 1980s Peta became aware that many creative design graduates were struggling to find places for their talents, with manufacturers and retailers paying scant attention. Determined to improve the outlook for emerging creatives, she founded New Designers. This event, which in 2015 celebrates its 30th anniversary, has grown into a massive two-week showcase each summer, involving more than 3,000 recent graduates, and attracting trade buyers, retailers, manufacturers and industry professionals.
The amazing showcase of talent that is New Designers was for Peta just part of the platform of support that she felt was needed for new creative businesses and the growing population of “maker-designers” (a term that didn’t exist before the 1980s). In 1991 she created New Designers in Business, as the logical next port of call for graduates, offering expert advice on manufacturing, retailing and marketing to both industry and the public. By the end of the 1990s the name had changed to Design-Nation, and Peta had set up an umbrella charity, The Design Trust, to cover a wider field of operations, all aimed at nurturing, supporting and growing opportunities for talent in British-based contemporary design. She achieved this with support from many sources, including the Department of Trade & Industry, the Design Council, several of the Worshipful Companies, London Development Agency, and numerous other organisations and individuals. Peta was a tireless and energetic campaigner for the causes she held dear and the British design world is a better place for her efforts.
Design-Nation has helped over 1,000 emerging designers to launch successfully, and since becoming an online portfolio in the 21st century, over 300 designers have been showcased on the website, a series of catalogues have been produced and in 2003 Peta launched her last great innovative project for Design-Nation, Eureka.[imbed link to Eureka page].
Sadly Peta Levi died of cancer in 2008, but she had unsurprisingly already received recognition in her lifetime for her many achievements, being appointed MBE in 1993 for her services to industrial design, and an honorary fellow of the RSA and the RCA. In 2006, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by London Metropolitan University, for her "substantial contribution to art and design education and the promotion of excellence of British design".
What others have said about Peta Levi:
”Always pushing forward with new notions”
Barbara Chandler, The Independent, 6 May 2008.
Read more here.
“Her enterprise, persistence and persuasiveness... enabled her to galvanise and inspire the entire design community.”
Charlotte Abrahams, The Guardian, 5 May 2008.
Read more here.
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