After a successful 2017 Degree Show, many Edinburgh College of Art students (soon-to-be graduates at the time) travelled to shows and competitions to celebrate their work.

Students from Product Design, Textiles and Fashion have received a range of awards for their work at this year's New Designers, Texprint, and Graduate Fashion Week events.

New Designers

New Designers is an annual showcase of work from some of Britain’s most promising design graduates. Soon-to-be graduates from programmes in the School of Design returned with a huge amount of enthusiasm from their experiences there.

In Product Design, three students were shortlisted for brand awards this year. Elliot Benjamin (BA - [Hons]) was shortlisted for his project 'Podulr', an affordable solution for work and living spaces, as was Emily Xia Ziyuan (BA - [Hons]) who designed a mobile nappy changing unit for baby buggies. And MFA student, Kasey Hou, was shortlisted for her flatpack, repairable toaster.

The toaster attracted lots of notable interest, including leading brands Dualit, Lakeland and Pentland, and she was nominated for Blueprint's shortlist of 'Ones to Watch'. Kasey's work also received a University of Edinburgh Art Collection Acquisition Award at this year's Degree Show, meaning it will now become a permanent part of the university's collections.

Additionally, MFA student Pengfei Li was recognised with a 'John Lewis Loves' commendation for his products based around 'Tension'.

And in Textiles, Abi Bruce (BA - [Hons]) was awarded The Worshipful Company of Clothworkers’ award. The Clothworkers Company judges commented on how Abi had shown her potential and secured the award “in a very positive way with her vast array of technical textile techniques”.

Students and Product Design tutor, Jon Barnes, outside New Designers
Image courtesy of Pengfei Li
Students and Product Design tutor, Jon Barnes, outside New Designers

"It was great to talk to people about my projects. I think the advantage of the show is getting to talk to people to whom you don't normally have access.”

Kasey Hou - Product Design - MFA graduate (2017)

“The show was a great experience for me. As designers, we are most likely going to exhibit our work in shows, and I think it's definitely helpful to have this experience early on so that you know what to expect in a show like this," said Kasey Hou, "It was great to talk to people about my projects. I think the advantage of the show is getting to talk to people to whom you don't normally have access.”

BA (Hons) graduate Emily Xia Ziyuan said, "Every time I presented my work to people, it was a good chance to practice my design thinking and presentation skills. I gradually understood what people wanted to know most, what my strongest points were, and how I should begin presenting the product."

"When I met people whose professions are in the design field, those conversations were really meaningful. Their perspectives are based on their experience working in this industry for years," said Emily, "The information they gave me is really valuable both for my future career and my work."

Abi Bruce, a Textiles - BA (Hons) graduate, not only received an award for her work, but was also offered a job. “Exhibiting at New Designers brought a vast array of opportunities that I would not have received anywhere else. Being in the centre of London allowed many design enthusiasts and well-respected businesses to come and see the work," said Abi, "Winning The Worshipful Company of Clothworkers’ award while showcasing at the event has given me a chance to progress my textile design after my studies. And as well as that, a renowned fashion brand offered me a job after viewing my work."

Pengfei Li, an MFA student who received a 'John Lewis Loves' commendation appreciated the opportunity to tell the story behind the work: "I enjoy this kind of social event - it's like a storytelling-party. People come to your work out of interest and leave with the story," said Pengfei, "When Jon [Barnes, Product Design tutor] told us about New Designers 2017, I responded immediately with a big 'yes'!"

"When the first judge [...] came to my stand, it was the fifth time I had explained my thesis. He responded by nodding and with a few words during my short presentation. "He's in!” I told myself," said Pengfei, "Next time I saw him he was with another five judges[...], he asked me to tell the whole story again to his colleagues and I did so. Not until later when they gave me a John Lewis Loves card did I realise where they were from!"

Flat pack and repairable toaster
Image courtesy of Kasey Hou
Kasey's toaster in its pre-build state
Design from Abi Bruce
Image courtesy of Abi Bruce
Work from Abi's collection, Layered Summer


Another success for the Textiles at ECA was through Texprint. Texprint is an organisation which supports graduating students from textile, fashion and interior design programmes, uniting them with industry professionals.

Roberta Fox, Textiles - BA (Hons) graduate (2017), has had a swathe of successes since graduating. She was selected as one of 24 top UK graduates for the TEXPRINT 2017 programme, was shortlisted for the Texprint Colour Award, and has been selected for a 7-week internship with the ComON programme in Italy.

"It has been so busy and has all happened rather quickly, but it's been very exciting!" said Roberta, "I am currently designing a new collection of fabrics I will be taking to Premiere Vision Paris in September to show and sell. I never thought that would happen in a million years!"

"Texprint is led by industry professionals and is an exciting programme which supports, mentors and promotes UK textile design graduates to the global design world," she said, "Being part of the programme has opened up many new opportunities and possibilities that I didn’t know were out there and I can’t wait to start using my textile and design skills to earn a living."

Graduate Fashion Week

These successes add to the six awards - including a Gold Award - won by Fashion students at the 2017 Graduate Fashion Week in June.

ECA had an astounding year at the world-leading event for fashion students and graduates. Following a sell-out catwalk show on Sunday 4th June 2017, five of our students were selected for the closing ‘best of’ gala, winning six prizes on the night, including the Christopher Bailey Gold Award.