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Interview with New Designers Curator Rheanna Lingham

Every year New Designers highlights 3,000 graduates from Britain’s leading design courses, offering visitors the chance to purchase new products directly from the creators. This June One Year On returns to the two week event, showcasing 50 outstanding designers in their first year of business. Those exhibiting are carefully selected by curator Rheanna Lingham, a jeweller and co-owner of London store Luna & Curious. This section allows audiences to invest in the iconic furniture, fabric, jewellery and ceramics of the future. Lingham speaks to us about her work with New Designers and how to develop a successful business.

A: Can you talk us through your role as curator of the One Year On section at this year’s New Designer showcase? What was your approach to this section?
RL:
New Designers is an incredible show, full of fresh faced graduates spilling over with new ideas. One Year On takes the show a step further, focusing on those designers who have moved from graduate to professional and established a creative practice. The show is curated and designers are selected on the innovation, quality of work and commitment to furthering their careers. As curator it is my role to support the designers as they prepare for possibly their first large show under their own name. This can involve working on how to edit and display with work, pricing and business planning as well as more general aspects as to how to engage and promote themselves within the creative industries.

A: Alongside your work at New Designer you’re a co-founder of Shoreditch boutique Luna & Curious. What’s the most important advice you’ve ever received about making a design business work?
RL: Advice is a funny thing, you may follow it, however it could be some time before you know if it was good or not. The uncle of my business partner, Polly George, was Paul Arden, creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, and author of Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite and It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. Paul always told Polly, if you have an idea get out there and do it before it loses its energy or someone else beats you too it, so during one hard time we created the mantra “What would Paul do?”. It isn’t really advice, but its something that gives you the confidence to follow your instinct and go for it. Better to fail…

A:  One Year On features a plethora exciting up-and-coming talent. Do you have a personal favourite out of this year’s entrants? How about out of New Designer 2015 as a whole?
RL: 
The designers are a really fabulous bunch. I have been so impressed with the focus and hard work, and also the high quality craftsmanship of the work they are producing, many are showing so much skill in working with traditional crafts including glass, ceramics, metalsmithing and wood work, but with fresh ideas. I spotted Jake McCombe during the selection process and knew his chunky linear jewellery would be perfect for Luna & Curious, so we are proudly stocking his collection and it is selling fast.

A: Which designers have inspired and influenced your aesthetic as you have honed your craft over the years, and why?
RL: 
The thing that gets my heart-racing is storytelling, and with this often comes a interaction with an object or place. So, in a way, people are my favourite designers; I am interested in how we all place importance on “things”, insignificant objects transformed into talismans or symbols of vitality. Alongside this is a heavy interest in rural crafts and British folklore, something I am researching for a large future project. Therefore I am inspired by those that explore and collate this subject matter, artists such as Jeremy Deller, who uses his practice to give people a voice.

A: How do events like New Designer help budding designers in the creative industry? What do you see in the future for fairs and trade shows like this?
RL: 
New Designers as a show is a proven success – events like this do not last 30 years if they are not. It has an established audience that recognises the show as a breeding ground for new talent. However, One Year On does not only provide a promoted opportunity to show your work, it invests a huge amount of time in supporting the designers. Working alongside The Design Trust and The Goldsmiths Company, every aspect of the show is prepared for and planned, helping kickstart careers.

One Year On is part of New Designers 2015, Part 1, 24-27 July, Part 2, 1-4 July Business Design Centre, London, N1.