Double success at New Designers Awards for Surface Pattern Design graduates


Congratulations to Swansea College of Art Surface Pattern Design graduates Grace Exley and Zoe Noakes for their winning entries at this year’s New Designers Awards.

Congratulations to Swansea College of Art Surface Pattern Design graduates Grace Exley and Zoe Noakes for their winning entries at this year’s New Designer Awards.

Zoe Noakes won the Colour in Design Award, and Marianne Shillingham, Creative Director of Dulux commented: “Zoe you make life better with colour,” - an incredible endorsement from such an influential figure in the Design World who has so much impact on all of our lives through colour.

Grace Exley won the Wilko Retail Design Award, and the judges commented that they chose her for her great colour ability, her impressive designs fitting the handwriting for their brand and customers.

Heather Kelman was also shortlisted for Harlequin alongside Jessica Thomas, who was shortlisted for the Creative Conscience New Designer of the Year Award. Both are staying on at Swansea College of Art to study for their Master’s in Surface Pattern Design.

Zoe said: “Winning a prize within the design community is an enormous confidence boost. The recognition, encouragement and opportunities that come from it are significant, especially for a new design graduate. It confirms that your work is relevant, it provides momentum, pushes you forward and opens doors. Receiving a financial prize alongside mentoring and support creates fertile ground for creative problem solving and commercial growth. I am so grateful that opportunities like this exist despite the backdrop of Covid, now more than ever it is vital that emerging creative talent is nurtured and put to work.

“I've had the most incredible and transformative four years of my life studying with the Surface Pattern Design (SPD) team. The lectures, technicians, support staff and students are a constant source of inspiration, support, and encouragement. I don't think I'll ever be able to thank them enough for everything they've done for me. Thank you so much Georgia and the whole SPD team for being a family to me and helping me achieve my dreams.”

Jessica said: “Being part of the New Designers Awards 2020 was an exciting opportunity, knowing that I was shortlisted for the top 5 in the Environmental design Award was an overwhelming achievement.”

Programme Director Georgia Mckie said: “The Surface Pattern Design programme jumped at the chance to take part in the ND Awards 2020.  New Designers is such an important part of the Design Graduate annual calendar, and it is seen as a real rite of passage.  Students target this as they progress through the stages of our programme, and similar programmes nationally and internationally.  They pitch to our team to take part and those selected promote their work to a huge global audience at the event’s home, in the Business Design Centre London. 

“When the event was cancelled the loss to the graduating students was palpable.  We are so happy that our New Designers of 2020 felt so motivated by the incredible live brief opportunities offered by an array of highly desirable employers and collaborators – from Liberty to Wilko.  Employability is a huge focus on our creatively charged, forward looking programme.  

“We are confident that our students have the tool kits to find their way, even through these challenging times.  Their resilience has been something that has really moved us as a team and kept us driven.  For our selected New Designers of 2020, this was their first totally independent design project.  To see the fruits of their labours recognized with 4 short listings is a testament to their relevance to what the design world needs now, to their individual skill set and ability, and to the education that has allowed them to truly thrive here at Swansea College of Art. 

“We are so proud of our two winners Grace Exley and Zoe Noakes who were congratulated by the esteemed judging panel for their incredible winning entries.  Both girls have worked tirelessly through the difficulties faced over the last semester of their studies, they are so well deserving of this acclaim.  It was so rewarding to hear the comments from the judges. The fact that Grace’s collection stems from her love of the welsh landscape makes this collection for Wilko even more special!

The online Awards presentation on September 17 was more poignant after the motivating and reflective keynote speech by Luke Pearson of Design Studio Pearson Lloyd.

He said: “Design has become ubiquitous in most peoples’ lives, and just about everybody’s vocabulary.  Design is a tool, now employed by business to develop strategic methodologies to solve problems, so it's moved beyond the physicality of the object and now design represents an approach and a way of thinking”

He talked of “a call to arms to” expressing that “Design may be responsible in part for the damage we have done to the planet, but it also is capable of solving a lot of the problems.  As designers we have a responsibility which is much more than just to generate sales, we have to do this of course, but we have to consider the impact of what we make during the life of the product, but also its afterlife.  We must consider value within a broader context of a finite world.  As you leave education and embrace this new world these challenges are not mentioned as pessimistic taunts but rather as a call to arms, and to illustrate how necessary you and your creativity are to the future of a sustainable and enjoyable planet.”

“You are entering your professional careers at not only a profoundly important moment but looked at with the right lens, and from the right angle, a profoundly exciting time.  The world is in the process of shifting on its axis for many reasons.  We have now a very real set of problems which require passion, energy, the pooling of dialogue and ideas to solve.  Right now, you are surrounded by this energy and compassion produced by you and your peers.  This is the first of many steps in what I'm sure will be a thrilling and meaningful journey for you all I'm sure that New Designers will provide as it always has done and memorable launchpad for your careers.”

Dr Pete Spring, Academic Porfolio Director at UWTSD’s Wales Institute of Science and Art said: “I am immensely proud of these results and the continued success, skill and professionalism that our students exemplify.

“It is now, more than ever, fundamentally important for everyone, not young people, to understand that Design is the bedrock of untold industries, new and more established ones, and recognise that the amazing talent that is grown and nurtured in an art school environment underpins the ways that we design and make our all our futures.

“The resilience and the commitment of our students and my colleagues never ceases to amaze me, and I am proud to be able to stand behind everyone and watch as they emerge from these turbulent times, and I look forward to celebrating more successes.”

Congratulations to Swansea College of Art Surface Pattern Design graduates Grace Exley and Zoe Noakes for their winning entries at this year’s New Designer Awards.

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