For the last four weeks, the northern end of Brick Lane next to Ely’s Yard have been awash with the brightest and best new talent from art and design schools across the UK, not just graduates, but also students at the earlier stages of their courses, with FREERANGE 2018 in the setting of the old east end Truman Brewery moving at a fast pace through fashion, design, photography, art and, finishing off this week, with interior design and architecture from art schools all across the UK- including a good representation from Scotland – hooray!
It is perhaps a mistake to try to visit both the New Blood Festival 2018 and the Interior Design and Architecture Show together as there is so much to see, but I will know for another year. Also, the Interior Design show could learn some lessons from New Blood, the first being signage and entry which was confusing and I almost missed it. Also, it is spread across two floors which, given that there is a huge amount to see, means I suspect that those on the upper level didn’t have many visitors – the mass of signage directing people there suggested that was the case.
The second is support from the professions. New Blood benefits from having support from D&AD and others and you feel that the profession is really supporting new talent. I know the economics of graphic design and interior design are different but surely the architectural professional, the RIBA and the RIAS should be pulling out the stops to support the next generation of designers, given the headwind of Brexit and all that.
As for themes, re-use of existing buildings seemed the predominant theme, perhaps not unsurprisingly for interior design students, often in cities and towns with empty derelict old buildings and structures such as railway viaducts, linked in many cases to proposals for co-living and co-working, social initiatives and, for some reason, gin distilleries including (strangely) one proposal from a student at the Edinburgh School of Art.
Each university or college is given its own area in which to stage its exhibition; sadly the one that disappointed the most was the Glasgow School of Art. While the last few weeks have been traumatic for the School, just laying drawings and reports out on tables does not show the talents of the students at their best. Glasgow should set the bar high, but younger institutions here show the way – it is an interior design exhibition after all.