New Designers 2021 Winner: Keely Russell

Final year BA (Hons) Textile Design student, Keely Russell, recently won the Silentnight Sleep Design Award at this year’s New Designers awards ceremony. 

Keely Russell

The brief called for new fabric designs that would revitalise the traditional divan bed and headboard for a more style-conscious consumer, and Keely’s design was just what the judges were looking for!

Fractal Recharge is a collection of printed natural textiles that use the principles of biophilic design to enhance living spaces with soft geometry and textured surfaces, creating a soothing space intended to improve concentration, productivity and creativity.

As Keely explains: “Silentnight’s brief required a textile concept to help consumers switch off into a deep sleep, it resonated immediately with the research I had submitted around the textures and patterns that we can use to recharge our internal batteries. This stemmed from my dissertation on biophilic design, a subject which came to my attention during lockdown, seeing the rise in design being used to bring comfort to people in their homes.

Fractal Recharge was part of my graduate collection and it was a technical exploration of the textures and colours that can be produced using laser etching and dying to produce pattern. I focussed on combining colours, textures and patterns to create designs that are visually easy to process and so are soothing to live around.”

New Designers is the UK’s leading exhibition of emerging design talent, providing a unique platform to connect graduates with industry professionals, creative businesses and consumers, for creative exchange, career opportunities and collaboration.

“I can’t quite believe I won the award but I am overjoyed and so grateful for the opportunity! It came as such a welcome surprise after missing out on the live event in London this year but I was so happy to be able share the proud moment with my family at home.”

Keely Russell's Fractal Recharge design

Keely graduated from BCU this summer after completing her Textile Design degree. She spoke about her favourite aspects of studying at BCU: “As we are a small course the close relationships between students and staff has been great – everyone knows each other well and it means that sharing information and best practice comes as second nature. The facilities are also second to none and, for me, the print workshop lead by Technicians Kelly-Marie and Kavita has been the best environment to explore printed textiles and push the boundaries of what can be achieved within print.” 

Keely’s success at New Designers means she will receive a £1000 prize to support her design career, along with the opportunity to collaborate with the Silentnight development team to produce her designs for sale through the company’s website and its Manchester ‘Sleep Hub’ Showroom.

Considering life after graduation, Keely commented: “I am currently doing a design placement with Amtico flooring that I am thoroughly enjoying, gaining this through the BCU graduate awards was an amazing opportunity for me. Looking ahead, after a short holiday (and some time off to rest after a busy few months!), I’ll be seeking opportunities in interiors and printed textiles and look forward to starting my next venture. Home design and innovation through materials is what excites me most at the moment and I would love to find a career in which I can explore these further.”

All at the School of Fashion and Textiles offer their congratulations to Keely on her award and look forward to seeing what she achieves in her future career!

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