Disruptive thinking, ambitious ideas and fresh approaches: This year’s New Designers is here

Featuring the work of 3,000 hand-picked newly-graduated students, the virtual event features free talks, a jobs board, networking opportunities and more.

1 July 2021

As a new batch of creatives graduate from uni, cohorts from all over the world start to prepare for industry professionals to see (and celebrate) their work. For 36 years, New Designers has provided new graduates with a unique platform to connect with those in industry, whether that be consumers, educators, potential clients or future employers. Though this year is a little different due to the pandemic, New Designers’ mission remains the same: to highlight the ambition, originality and fresh approaches of the newest members of the creative industry. Taking place online from 30 June to 10 July 2021, the platform invites you to explore thousands of students work and university profiles.

Presenting the work of 3,000 design talents picked by hand, New Designers covers all corners of the UK’s design scene, honouring the industry’s rising stars of tomorrow. The jam-packed programme also includes free talks hosted by the sector’s leaders, exploring the latest trends and topics in the design community. The series of talks, titled ND Educates, aims to inform new graduates on their next career chapter. The lineup features Suzie Dicker, designer and founder of Etsy, who will be advising creatives on how to start selling through the platform.

Elsewhere, members of DCA Design, Habitat and Hallmark tackle issues of sustainability in practice while Chrissy Levett, founder of Creative Conscience takes on the topic of “From side hustle to day job”. Other talks include a panel discussion with Habitat, Hallmark and John Lewis & Partners as they discuss lockdown trends and portfolio advice courtesy of Charlie Birtles from Design Nation. There are myriad other talks scheduled as part of ND Educates touching on topics such as “quality in a world of quantity”; the role of consulting; design entrepreneurship and crowdfunding; designing repairable goods; intellectual property; lockdown design trends; how to get hired, and more.


Eilis Dart: Keep Your Hands to Yourself, Manchester School of Art (Copyright © Eilis Dart, 2021)

2020 marked the first time New Designers launched an awards arm of the event. Partnering with leading designers, studios and companies, it set 36 briefs to new graduates, highlighting the best work with a variety of awards. There are numerous awards also up for grabs this year in over 30 categories, ranging from costume design to ceramics, glass, furniture design, illustration, motion design, animation and more. The winners will be announced on 30 June at 6 pm BST on the New Designer’s website. This year, the bespoke briefs were developed in conjunction with awards partners, including Pentagram, John Lewis & Partners, Hallmark and Creative Conscience, just to name a few.

The Class of 21 university profiles also launches on Wednesday 30 June. Here, viewers will be able to engage with the latest wave of design talent, dive into innovative new products hot on the market, and discover new makers or potential recruits to add to individual talent pools. It’s also an opportunity to see design trends emerging from all over the country. As a statement puts it, New Designers is “full of disruptive thinking, ambitious ideas and fresh approaches.” Universities taking part in this year’s event include Leeds Art, Manchester School of Art, Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University, De Montfort University, Nottingham Trent University and more.

On top of all this, New Designers is additionally running several digital initiatives for networking, creating opportunities and connecting with industry. Aiming to be the best place to find emerging talent whether you’re a recruiter, buyer, or simply looking for some inspiration, this year’s virtual event hopes to connect the industry with the next generation of talent. If you have a new graduate opportunity, there is also a New Designers Job Board where you can advertise for vacancies on a complimentary basis.


Amy Baker Meraki: A Stationery Collection, Plymouth College of Art (Copyright © Amy Baker Meraki, 2021)


Eilis Dart: Splat TV Ident, Manchester School of Art (Copyright © Eilis Dart, 2021)


Max Girlder-Heald: Oh well, Plymouth College of Art (Copyright © Max Girlder-Heald, 2021)


Milly Iris Richards: We Get Up, Plymouth College of Art (Copyright © Milly Iris Richards, 2021)


Victor Healey: Still from Party Animal 2, Cambridge School of Arts (Copyright © Victor Healey, 2021)

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New Designers

Full of disruptive thinking, ambitious ideas and fresh approaches, New Designers presents the work of 3,000 hand-picked graduate design talents, exploring every corner of design from around the UK. Week 1 takes places 28 June – 1 July and Week 2 from 5 – 8 July 2023 at Islington’s Business Design Centre. Find out more at newdesigners.com.

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Max Girlder-Heald: Azure, Plymouth College of Art (Copyright © Max Girlder-Heald, 2021)

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