Design, Extracurricular

New Designers Response 2017

New Designers is an exhibition for design graduates to display their final year work. It was held at the Business Design Centre in Angel from the 6th July – 9th July. I attended with my University as stand personnel.

I was given the unique opportunity to display some of my second-year work as we wanted to give prospective students an idea of the Product Design course as a whole.


Image by Jacob Arney, accessed through link:


By attending as a helper, I was given the opportunity to explore the event and discover projects that I found interesting and inspiring.

Initially, I was completely overwhelmed with the vast amounts of projects and the beautiful finishes. Luckily after three days of exploring, I was able to digest more and more projects and talk to their creators.

However, I was concerned by the lack of thought about the environmental impact and not just designing for design’s sake. In our society and current economic climate (re Brexit), I am not denying the need for commercial goods, especially being made in Britain. However, these products need to contribute positively.

The following projects are the few that caught my eye during the exhibition.

  1. Colleggtion– Martina Zupan, Edinburgh Napier

From speaking with Martina, it was clear she knew her stuff. Her project ‘Colleggtion’ was the creation of a new material made from used egg shells. The material created would be ideal for disposable plates. Currently, paper plates cannot be recycled once they have been contaminated by food (which is every time they are used, making them a one-time use product that must be sent to landfill). Martina’s material is an ideal substitute as it is 100% compostable. The image below shows her different iterations of the material. She experimented with different formulas to get the right consistency so the material would be strong and not too brittle. It was refreshing to see a high level of conscientious research. When I have money to invest, I will!

Visit her website here:

Image by Lucy Hughes
Image by Martina Zupan, accessed through link:


2. Aidn- Nikian Aghababaie, Nottingham Trent

Nikian’s project was inspired by his placement at a San Fransisco start up where a colleague of his was researching into hydroponics. His project ‘Aidn’ (Aerophonics in Developing Nations) uses NASA patented technology to grow vegetables and ‘cash crops’ using up to 90% less water in any environment, with a particular focus on developing nations and refugee sites. The plants are sprayed with a nutrient solution and suspended with no soil. The roots grow down and the economical pump system keeps them well watered.

I was particularly impressed with the thorough research, user testing and calmness when it came to prototype failures. In his project video ( he is faced with a few complications when user testing in Peru from bugs to blackouts and seems to confidently continue.

The iteration I saw at New Designers was a welcome break from the traditional final year project which gave me hope for the future of water.

Find out more about his project on his website:

Image by Nikian Aghababaie, accessed through link:


3. Banana lab – Lizzie Hall, Manchester School of Art

Lizzie’s project ‘Banana Lab’ is a station/process/material where banana peels are collected, created and then composted. The ‘creation’ section of this process have the peels being made into products ranging from handbags to cutlery. Her lab is designed for people to get involved in making recycled and biodegradable materials. The project comes with a booklet that gives the user a step by step guide on how to make the banana material. Lizzie said to us that she had got lots of attention from schools and hopes that the Banana Lab can be integrated into their learning since it is so important to inform about alternative materials.

Congratulations to Lizzie who was awarded the runner-up Material Lab award at the exhibition.

Find out more about Lizzie’s Project through the following link:

Image by Lizzie Hall, accessed through link:
Image by Lizzie Hall, accessed through link:


Thank you to the graduates for chatting with me and putting up with my many questions in the heat of the greenhouse that is the Business Design Centre. I wish you all the best, either continuing with your projects or starting your career with a company.


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