At the end of the academic year, graduates from a breadth of courses at Central Saint Martins, UAL showcase their work to the creative industries in an impressive pair of degree shows. Global marketing communications agency MullenLowe Group sees this as an opportunity to invest in the university’s emerging talent, by sponsoring the degree shows and running the MullenLowe NOVA Awards, now in its seventh year.
From over 1300 graduating students, course tutors whittled down the nominees to be judged by a panel including members of the It’s Nice That team and other industry experts. The five winning students, graduates who are “bold, ambitious and push the boundaries of their creative field,” receive the MullenLowe NOVA accolade and prize money to continue their creative endeavours.
Below, we find out more about this year’s winner, two runners up, the recipient of the Unilever Sustain-Ability Award and the people’s choice MullenLowe YourNOVA Award.
MullenLowe NOVA Award Winner: Hana Fujimoto
This year’s MullenLowe NOVA Award Winner is BA Textile Design student, Hana Fujimoto. For Hana’s project, hidden beauty in the accidental: discarded, she looked at the body as sculpture, developing “costumes that could be worn for performance art”.
Influenced by the Fluxus art movement of the 1960s and 70s, Hana was inspired by artists who incorporate “performance, chance and randomness in their practice”. The graduate’s background of fine art informed her textile practice to be organic, “allowing my work to grow naturally from an expressiveness not rooted in any form of predetermined design,” she explains.
To develop her final pieces Hana conducted a number of experiments that allowed her design to be serendipitous. For example, “in one experiment I restricted myself to painting using only my mouth, in another, while blindfolded”. These investigations represent how fun and humour are key components to the designer’s work, displaying how creative working can be “not too serious and it’s open to everyone”.
In the final pieces, movement was the most important element considered: “As the performer/wearer moves, both the body and the works appear distorted, perverted from their original state…Moreover, strict choreography was abandoned in favour of the spontaneous – a move that allowed for mishaps and experimentation.” On winning the NOVA Award’s highest accolade and £6,000 prize money, the designer says she felt “surprised and really honoured”.
MullenLowe NOVA Award Runner Up: Hannah Scott
MA Art and Science student Hannah Scott, whose project what goes around comes around, displays a sculptural side to the medium.
Hannah’s project is both personal and open to the public, examining Britain’s consumer lifestyle and its relationship with the Arctic environment. In exploring “ways of visualising and communicating climate change…inspired by a fusion of my interests in science, nature and travel,” her work continually asks questions. “It challenges the audience to question the impact of their own lifestyle choices, central to this is an exploration of the ways art can effectively communicate scientific and environmental issues without being didactic or overly moralistic.”
Hannah’s final piece references “current scientific research on climate change and plastic pollution,” coupled with the personal loss of both her parents. As a result the artist has created a unique practice, one that is “partly auto ethnographic, centring myself within my exploration as an observer and as one of the observed”.
MullenLowe NOVA Award Runner Up: Jiani Zhao and Emanuele Romano
MA Character Animation students Jiani Zhao and Emanuele Romano’s final project stroke, is inspired by a talk in which Dr Jill Bolte Taylor explains her personal experience of having a stroke. “What drew our attention to the story was how a stroke, commonly regarded as a negative experience, could be so positive and revealing for someone,” says the pair.
The idea of an “unexpected interpretation,” developed the style and narrative of their animation, in which a man has a stroke and develops a higher state of conscience. Animation, the pair explain, is an ideal medium for an experience “usually exclusively reserved for the subject who experiences it, made available to the audience using animation as its media”. Receiving such an accolade as the runner up position of the MullenLowe Award has given Jiani and Emanuele “more confidence in our skills," they explain. “It’s great, it’s the first award we’ve ever won together so it’s a very nice and encouraging start for the future."
MullenLowe Unilever Sustain-Ability Award: Kaye Toland
The recipient of this year’s MullenLowe Unilever Sustain-Ability Award is BA Product Design graduating student, Kaye Toland. Kaye’s development and production of MCycle, “a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable menstruation management service,” displays a thoughtful process in how her degree practice can help a wider audience. “With the sheer amount of waste with menstruation products, the cost and the taboos as well, it was kind of a difficult situation for me to ignore.”
MCycle is a “compostable, water resistant, and antibacterial sack which contains compostable tampons,” says Kaye. After disposing of the tampons, the waste can be disposed of back inside the delivered pack, “the entire package becomes the bin for the tampons and pads”. Additionally, once a woman’s cycle has ended, MCycle picks it up, taking it to a “waste storage facility and at the end of the day taking it to EcoPark in north London… the internal sack and its contents are composted into non-food soil for prison parks, playgrounds and football fields and the external cardboard is recycled”. The whole product embodies “a complete circular economy”.
Even after the product is used, the consumer benefits of Kaye’s design continue. Firstly it “gets cheaper over time,” she explains, and a user becomes a shareholder, open to voting on any changes within the company, receiving a share of profits at the end of the financial year. Additionally, there is even the option to become a “Cycle lifer,” in which profits are returned to the customer when they reach menopause, "like a period retirement fund”. Winning the award also enables Kaye to continue the project, “It feels very exciting and humbling to win a MullenLowe Nova Award. I’m thrilled to be able to focus on my pilot scheme with my project and test it with 150 women.”
MullenLowe YourNOVA Award: Sasha Bruml
This year’s YourNova Award winner, voted for by the public, is BA Product Design student, Sasha Bruml and his design LifeCycle.
LifeCycle is a bike saddle Sasha has designed, “with distinctive individual benefits in terms of comfort, performance and status”. The bike seat is one that puts the user first: “The connection between you and your bicycle seat is personal,” says Sasha. “The surface of the saddle is supported by hundreds of branches. Based on your data, these are purposely positioned to optimise comfort and performance just for you.” Inspired by nature, the “branches” additionally minimises waste.
LifeCycle is designed by measuring your “sit bones” and gathering information such as “height, weight and riding style” to ensure a perfect fit.
A design such as LifeCycle “is only achievable with the latest 3D printing technology paired with the development of advanced materials”. However, Sasha is currently reevaluating the process, in order to make LifeCycle as affordable as possible.