Creative Industries expertise

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Birmingham City University's Trends Exhibition held in January 2017 at the January Furniture Show (JFS), NEC, Birmingham has previous form.

Now in its eighth year, the Trends project plays a pivotal role in showcasing future trends to the industry.

Hannah Malein, Colour & Trend Consultant Manager at Colour Hive™ said; “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to see our trends come to life in multiple materials and applications. The students can always be relied upon for new thinking and impressive outcomes, which is why we’re always so excited to see what new designs are revealed.”

BCU BA (Hons) Textile Design students and rising stars Ella Downes and Helen Johnston, have seen their design work considered exclusively by Brintons Carpets, ahead of the exhibition, using their revolutionary 32 colour ‘High Definition Weave’ technology to construct a carpet design based upon each trend, Grace and Punk.

Working with Angela Paterson, Marketing Director at Tektura, each year, her team make a special award to one of the students for the ‘most innovative wallcover design’, and is awarded against the criteria of being ‘commercial and very workable’. Each of the designs is considered and voted for by visitors to the Birmingham City University stand; Tektura showcase these design as part of their digital collection.

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With the words innovative, exploratory, challenging and provocative all being used to describe both the students' interpretations of the Trends and the collaboration over-all, our partnership with Colour Hive and Mix Publications has provided new inspiration to drive forward trends prediction, representing a significant change in the way we embed trends and design development into the curriculum for interior, product and textile design. 2017's showcase, inspired by Colour Hive’s  Research Autumn/Winter 2017/18  trends Grace and Punk, has brought together two carefully crafted room sets, acting as platforms to showcase design concepts influenced by the each trend concept.

The Trends project offers fresh inspiration and direction, without significant internal research and production development costs, providing an insight to interior manufacturers and interiors design specialists on how to innovate through student power – particularly beneficial within the current economic conditions.

Birmingham City University, one of the UK's leading University's for practice based research around design and innovation, has brought together some 60 textile design students and challenged them to work in partnership with industry in demonstrating how product innovation and design inspiration can be formulated using this talented resource to create a range of textile, wall, floor and interiors solutions.

Charmaine Stint, Development Manager for the Institute for Creative Innovation at Birmingham City University, said: “Challenging our students, staff and partners to come up with brand new concepts which are fresh, engaging and new, generates some truly innovative content. It’s this innovation which drives us and our partners to push the boundaries and is one of the most motivating elements of this showcase.”

The Industry Partnership

Based on a long-term partnership with Colour Hive and Mix Publications, international digital wall covering manufacturer Tektura and world-wide carpet manufacturer Brintons, the Trends project engages with art and design students and associated academics with considerable industry and research experience, to test the trends presented by Colour Hive.


As a result of JFS's continuing investment in the initiative, the concept has grown to become a key visitor attraction and PR vehicle for the show, resulting in added value for visitors, exhibitors and partners.

“This is a great opportunity to see what some of the potential stars of the furniture future have got to say when it comes to home furnishings and interior designs. We look forward to seeing what is unveiled at the show.”

Steve Richards, co-director of the January Furniture Show

The new directions students are able to take design in, through their unique trend interpretations, are reinforced throughout the body of work displayed at the exhibition providing industry professionals with new ideas and inspiration.

The Trends project is part of a wider programme of activity of engagement with industry, led by the Institute for Creative Innovation, alongside the Faculty of Arts, Design & Media. The 2017/18 project has created some exquisite collisions through our links with industry partners.


  • Inspiration and new ideas for show visitors
  • Product development in a risk free environment
  • Talent recruitment – showcasing our student/graduate design credentials to industry
  • Opportunity to spark new relationships / new projects with the University and its talent pool (Knowledge Transfer Partnerships or live industry projects with students, for example)
  • The development of an eye-catching stand showcasing the student work on two trend pavilions featured in the national broadsheets and lifestyle magazines with a range of web coverage
  • The stand seen by a host of visitors to the show, generates about 200 specific enquiries and conversations about the students' work and future trends
  • Student work has been used in previous shows such as INTERIORS, Decorex, Clerkenwell Design Week and May Design Week for a variety of show elements, including VIP Lounge and Seminar Theatre areas, providing additional unique features for the event organisers. 

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