3D Design and Craft BA(Hons) grad Imogen Gray wins Environmental Design prize at New Designers Awards 2020, with Product Design BSc grad Lawrence Parent named as runner-up.
Imogen, who graduated in the summer, claimed the ‘New Designer of the Year Award, in association with Creative Conscience and the Business Design Centre: Environmental Design Award’ for her work on ‘A lust for leather’, a project which aims to reduce the amount of leather scraps ending up at landfill.
Instead, Imogen repurposed the scrap pieces which are often thrown away by craftspeople to form a new composition material which goes beyond the natural limitations of leather, allowing the material to be cast in moulds.
Now in its 35th year, New Designers provides a platform for fresh design talent to connect with design educators, professionals and consumers for creative exchange and excellence.
The online awards attracted over 900 entries from universities across the UK, and Imogen was delighted to be announced as the winner in her category: “I was lucky enough to leave work early to watch the awards with my house mates, where I found out I had won. A bottle of prosecco was opened almost instantly and we went down to the beach to watch the sunset and eat pizza – a perfect way to celebrate!
“Sustainability and avoiding waste have been the most important parts of my self-directed projects in the last three years. In my second year, I created a material made from fibrous plants and I proposed it could replace the need for leather all together.
“The summer before I started my third year I saw on Instagram (via @beforchange) that a shocking 800,000 tonnes of leather ends up in landfill annually.”
Lawrence Parent, who studied BSc (Hons) Product Design with Professional Experience, was named as runner-up for his ‘Living Blocks’ project, an open-source recipe designed to produce blocks that can support plant and insect life.
Lawrence said: “I would never have expected the small blocks I was producing in my back garden over lockdown to receive so much attention. All of this recognition and focus on the Living Blocks project really confirms my feeling that there is a definite need to alter the way we build cities that go beyond financial gain and focus more on biodiversity and our connections with nature.
“The feedback has given me the encouragement I’ve needed to continue developing the project beyond my final university submission. I’ve now set up a small workshop at home in order to continue working on the project and hope to soon get some dedicated studio space.”
James Tooze, course leader for Product Design said: “It is fantastic for Imogen and Lawrence’s amazing work to have been recognised in this year’s New Designers Awards. Both projects reaffirm that designers have pivotal rolls to play in helping to transition society, industry and the economy from an extractive; take, make, waste mindset to one of regeneration and custodianship.
“The Product Design and 3D Design and Craft courses at Brighton encourage our students to be critical, creative and responsible practitioners, focussing their efforts on making work that matters.
“Brighton as a city has a very strong culture of environmental awareness and action, and it is a testament to our students, staff and the city that this work has been recognised by such a prestigious award.