Ok this is a proper report on exactly what I did whilst I was in London for New Designers 2015. I finally have the time (on a 3 hour train to Wrexham no less) to sit and digest and work out what happened during the worldwind blur that was Islington and the show. New Designers is held at the Business Design Centre in Islington and this year ran from June 30th-June 4th with a schedule something like this:
Tuesday 30th- Exhibitors only set up of the stand. Graduate meeting at 3pm, set up complete by 5pm.
Wednesday 1st- Judging 9am-1pm. Award winners announced somewhere between 2pm-3pm. Private view 3pm-6pm. Award winners preview and opening evening sponsored by Absolut Vodka 6pm-9pm. Graduate opening night party 10pm-1am.
Thursday 2nd- Public late opening 10am-8pm.
Friday 3rd- Schools visits and public opening 10am-6pm.
Saturday 4th- Public opening 10am-5pm. Close of show 5pm. Exhibitors only taking down of show 5pm-8pm. Take down as soon as possible.
Even though on Thursday, Friday and Saturday we worked shifts, allowing the stand to be manned but not crowded it was still a horrifically busy week. During a heatwave in a glass roofed building we all felt the effects of the work and the weather and it made for a sweaty week rather than a nice holiday in the city.
We decided to stay in London a day early to get settled and get our bearings before the show. As mentioned in my previous post, we had a bit of a nightmare with our accommodation on the day we arrived. I was staying in a hostel in Kilburn (lets not name names, they did sort it eventually) with my friends and fellow Glyndwr students, illustrator Jonny Garrett and graphic designer Tania Clarke. Boarding my train in Cardiff I had a phone call saying our accommodation had been double booked and we therefore had been moved to a different hostel with a different room and different facilities. This was less than ideal and Tania and I spent our journeys frantically googling last minute deals on hostels and hotels in London, sadly coming up with nothing under £1000. The combination of a busy train, poor 4G to google and the heat made the journey less than enjoyable and I was pleased to finally make it to London. I’ve only ever been to London on the train a handful of times and always with people who knew where they’re going so Paddington came as a bit of a shock and I spent a lot of time pretending to be busy, topping up my Oyster, rummaging in my bag but really I was sussing out how to get about and where the tube was. I caught 2 tubes to Euston where I met Tania and Jonny who’d got their overgrounds from Manchester and Crewe respectively and we caught another tube to Kilburn where we were staying. Long story short on the hostel, we walked miles to one simply to be taken to another, the room was cramped, dingy and dirty which you might expect from a hostel but we’d specifically paid for a private apartment so the realisation we really had been moved left us with a bad mood and a bad nights sleep.
Tuesday morning found us in the dingy little cellar room but after enough complaining to the manager and the landlord of the hostels we were picked up at midday and taken to the correct apartment near Queen’s Park station. The new hostel was clean, light, had our own shower and kitchen and seriously improved the mood. We also ended up closer to a more convenient train station for the commute into New Designers so after a quick Overground to Euston and a brief Underground to Angel we embarked on the longest escalator in the world and out onto sunny Islington high street. The Business Design Centre is a HUGE venue which boasts a big glass ceiling in the middle and lots more conference rooms and offices all along the side. I think every graduate who showed there did the standard photo from the entrance of all the exhibits which was pretty impressive. We collected our name badges and then spent 37274934793 hours trying to find our stand. The place was like a maze, there were more rooms than I’d care to remember and we were at the back in the corner- but on the plus side we got a grand tour of everyone else’s exhibits on the way past! I’m not going to talk too much about the nitty gritty of showing at New Designers because 1. I want to do a ‘What I Learned’ post and 2. This blog is long enough already.
After FINALLY finding the stand, we helped set up the exhibition. Our work was driven from Wrexham in a van to keep it all safe and together and took a few hours to put up. We were a mixture of BA Illustration, BA Graphics and MA Design Practice so the work was a bit of a mish match and the stand wasn’t huge so we worked with what we had. We hung work on the walls, had portfolio stands in the middle and displayed our books in a cabinet which also doubled up nicely as a little table for those sitting down during the shifts. All graduates attended a meeting addressed by the organiser of ND which consisted of 3000 sweaty twenty somethings sat on the floor like Primary school assembly which was ideal. Needless to say the message was “be professional and please leave now because it’s boiling”. Which we did. With haste. We left Islington at about 6pm and went home to Kilburn via the BEST fish and chip takeaway and restaurant which we ate watching Greg Davies Live DVDs in our room.
Wednesday July 1st was The Big Important Day. Graduates turned up all smartly dressed and buzzing with professionalism at 9am when we had an hour to do the final tweaks to the stand before the doors were officially opened. Judging started at 10am and the air was full of anticipation and trying to guess who the bigwigs were amongst the professionals from all different companies. Wednesday was the peak of the heatwave in London at a crisp 36 degrees and the rule of ‘no sitting down at the stands’ went out the window approximately 10 minutes in. The heat was too much, especially for the unfortunate souls under the glass roof and everyone just needed a break. I walked past one stand who were literally lying on the floor around a fan and I have to say I couldn’t blame them. Winners were announced over a tannoy between 2-3pm admist lots of clapping and “OMG Bucks New won AGAIN!?” (they were on form). At 3pm the doors opened and we were lucky enough to be sent a reporter from our university who kept us occupied when we were flagging by interviewing us one by one and taking photos against our work which was nice and alluring. Admittedly half way through the day we started to think ‘dear lord what have we done’. Everyone else just seemed so amazing and better and the day was dragging but at 6pm when a lot of professionals were let in for the Award Winners previews the vodka came out and the mood significantly changed. Even though I didn’t drink myself, everyone got much more friendly and bubbly and confident and we made so many new contacts and friends. The place was buzzing, it was really busy, we were constantly talking to people and when it finished at 9pm it was a real disappointment. Doors closed at 9 to allow graduates to go home and get changed for the afterparty but (as we all knew) by the time we got home the last thing we wanted to do was go out and party again so we got into our jammies and made chicken nuggets and chips at 10pm-and everyone else I spoke to the next day admitted they’d done something similar. On a side note, this was the evening that at 3am due to the 24 degree heat, Tania and I went and sat outside on a bench in our pjs to cool off and Jonny woke up, realised we weren’t there, feared we may have been kidnapped and killed, presumed he was next and went back to sleep so there’s a little insight into our friendship for you.
On Thursday we had successfully managed to wangle a late shift on the stand so after a lie on and some dinner we wandered down to Islington at 2pm expecting to be on until 6. We actually ended up staying until 8pm which was late opening for the show and although it wasn’t as busy as the night before we got chatting to a lot of lovely people and finally made friends with the folks opposite us instead of spending the day eyeballing them as competition which had basically been the tone of the past two days. This allowed us to have a dip in their stash of sweets too which was an added bonus. We handed out business cards to anyone that would take them, forced press packs on people who *might* not have known what was happening and spent most of the day saying “No we’re Glyndwr” because the 3 Nottingham Trent stands around us was messing with people’s minds. On the way home we picked up another chippy and they remembered us and our orders and made us feel like we could just move there and be regulars all the time. It was divine.
Friday 3rd July saw us up at the crack of dawn for an early shift which was only supposed to be 2 hours but somehow ended up as working 10am-3pm. We did a little bit of networking, I saw some people I was on my Foundation course with which was cool and talked to a few people. Friday saw a lot of schools come in which was good for them to see what type of universities did what but bad for us because they nicked all our business cards and forgive me for thinking maybe a 15 year old won’t hire me. In the afternoon we escaped the business design centre and grabbed our only chance to do something touristy. We navigated the tubes like pros and went down to the South Bank in the sun like most of London, wandered along the river, watched some street performers, left when they demanded audience participation, took some selfies in front of Big Ben and the Eye and went to the Sealife Aquarium. We had conveniently bought cereal in the week which allowed us a free adult entry so we got a good deal and we were pretty pumped to see some wildlife and act a bit like children. The only thing that could have pumped us up more was a glass walkway over the sharks that you were forced to walk over to get into the aquarium and that is exactly what we experienced. Tania and I loved it and took loads of photos and generally played about until some more people arrived but Jonny, not so much. He essentially ran over it and then watched us in horror. The aquarium itself was pretty immense. I love aquariums anyway and have pretty high standard (as in I think the one in Plymouth can never be beat) but it was such a good afternoon out! It was a LOT bigger than I expected, the exhibits were amazing, it was full of information and they didn’t palm you off with large fish in the shark tank, they were actual factual big sharks. It was really good to finally get out and do some touristy as if we were actually on holiday and we bought some postcards, tacky souvenirs and pressed pennies on our way home. For some reason this night being the last night and knowing we had to be up early to pack on Saturday we stayed up until 2am watching Glastonbury highlights and regretted it in the morning.
Saturday morning was a bit bitter sweet as it was our last day. We were all pretty exhausted and my double bed at home was calling me but we'd had a blast, we didn't want it to end and we knew it was the last time in a while we'd all be together (stupid real life). We spent the morning packing, eating and watching cookery on TV and then headed to Islington at midday. The Saturday was pretty quiet in all honesty. A lot of people knew it was basically over, a lot of people plain went home and we networked a little, got rid of the last press packs and talked to the handful of people that showed up. The atmosphere was very much a clock watching one until 5pm when we could all leave and some sneaky packing away was done by all stands. Portfolios were quietly zipped up, business cards were stuffed in bags and when the announcement came over the tannoy at 5pm to say the show was over the place sprung into life. Everyone had around an hour to get everything out, stairwells were opened, loading bays were heaving and despite some stands taking 2 days to be set up ours was on the van back to Wrexham within 40 minutes. It all looked a little bleak when it was empty so we procured the Glyndwr sign and went to Desperados round the corner for tea. After a quick, spicy meal, we dragged our suitcases along the road to Islington and made a mad dash back to Euston for Jonny and Tania to catch the train that wouldn't send them home at some ungodly hour of the night. We all got off at Euston and as I needed to stay in the underground and they needed to go to the main station I had a very poignant (and hilarious) last glimpse of them pegging it up the escalators, portfolios and suitcases flying. Being an hour early for my train at Paddington I meandered through the tube slowly, made my two connections and sat in the station until my train arrived at the platform. I watched Don't Tell The Bride new series and got home to Cardiff at midnight after the longest, busiest, best week in London.