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Success at New Designers Awards 2021

Keely Russell's Fractal Recharge design

New Designers is the UK's most important exhibition for emerging design talent. This year the New Designers Awards featured two winners from the School of Fashion and Textiles, Keely Russell and Andrea Gonzales.


The show provides a unique platform for the best fresh design talent and connects graduates with industry professionals, creative businesses and consumers, for creative exchange, career opportunities and collaboration.

As in 2020, the much-anticipated New Designers exhibition was unable to go ahead, but the awards were presented in a virtual ceremony on 30 June. Viewers heard from keynote speakers, ceramic artist Kate Malone and WeTransfer’s Creative Director Nessim Higson, who shared words of wisdom and encouragement for the graduates of 2021.

Keely Russell – Fractal Recharge
BA (Hons) Textile Design

Keely’s entry, Fractal Recharge (pictured above) scooped the Silentnight Sleep Design Award at this year’s ceremony.

Silentnight hoped to see new design concepts for the traditional divan bed and headboard that can revitalise the product and resonate with a more style-conscious consumer.

Fractal Recharge is an interior collection of printed natural textiles which uses the principles of biophilic design to enhance living spaces. Soft geometry and textured surfaces create a soothing space intended to improve concentration, productivity and creativity.

The judges commented: “Keely showed some really nice thinking here around utilising the principles of biophilic design to help consumers switch off into a deep sleep. This also extends to her knowledge of colour theory, opting for blue as a suitable calming choice within a sleep environment. I can imagine the final design in a commercial setting. Strong title for the project: Fractal Recharge. Also liked how she brought a quote from Patternity into her nature development page. But particularly enjoyed seeing the process/ behind the scenes of her fragmented lino cutting design. We would like to work with Keely to explore her designs and produce a product that we can bring into commercial production for launch later in the year.”

Keely will receive £1000 prize to support the development of her design career, along with the opportunity to collaborate with Silentnight’s development team to produce and sell her design through Silentnight’s website and their Manchester ‘Sleep Hub’ Showroom. 

Andrea Gonzales – Babilkbayan
BA (Hons) Textile Design

Andrea Gonzales' Babilkbayan design

Andrea's entry, Babilkbayan (pictured right) won the Habitat Future Design Award – Textiles and Surface Pattern Design at this year’s ceremony. 

The competition brief called for designs that could sit alongside Habitat’s curated collection of product and furniture. They create beautiful design that is functional, good quality, sustainable. 

Babilkbayan is a collection of woven jacquard and printed fabrics for interiors inspired by Andrea’s Filipino culture. With a particular focus on the textile traditions and wooden cut carvings that are distinctive within certain provinces, the ethnic patterns have been translated into woven jacquard designs and lino prints to create a coordinating series of fabrics that celebrate the craftsmanship of weaving that is still deeply rooted in the Filipino culture.

The judges commented: “Andrea’s work showed excellent craftsmanship using weaves and complex textures with a strong unified colour palette. Her presentation evoked the story, not only drawing on her heritage, but also using primary research into handcrafted techniques from the Philippines, all of which the judges found to be a lovely personal touch. The project was also supported by a beautiful weave sample and sketchbook experimentation. Well Done Andrea!”

Andrea will receive mentoring from Habitat’s Senior Designers where she’ll gain invaluable industry experience. Her design will be purchased for £500 and she will be supported to get her product manufactured where possible to launch with Habitat.

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