Associate Professor Richard Sober pens his thoughts on a busy few weeks for the Interiors team at the School of Art & Creative Industries
“Its been quite a frenetic May for the interiors team. First came the opening night of the degree show exhibition showcasing the final project work of the BA(Hons) Interior Design, BA(Hons) Interior Architecture and Design and BSc Innovative Home Design and Construction courses. The show was packed with students and their families alongside lots of professionals from practice on the lookout for new talent and it was lovely to welcome back alumni who came back to recruit from the new crop of talented graduates.
“The BScs were awarded special certificates from George Clarke’s MOBIE organisation, with whom we co-authored the course, and these were presented by Mark Southgate, the MOBIE Chief Executive. It was a fantastic celebration marking the transition from study to the world of practice.
“Early the following morning together with 6 of our students from the first and second year we embarked on an unusual design and build project for ITV. We had 5 days to complete this before filming was due to begin the following week. Unfortunately we can’t yet share any details of what it is, but after a meeting with the company’s production and compliance team to share ideas and concepts we hit the computers, workshops and textile and print studios. We couldn’t include anything on set that might be subject to copyright, so everything had to be bespoke made including wallpapers, textiles, fixtures and fittings, so as soon as each element of the design was created we then frantically rushed off to construct and make it before passing it on to the student team working on the installation.
Fortunately the producer was delighted with the result, it was an exhausting, but fun, few days which culminated in a visit from the show’s star, the actor and presenter Robson Green, who generously called in to say thank you in person to the students and invited us all to a special event that will filmed as part of the show. Although our lips are sealed until it’s broadcast later in the year we can’t wait to see our creations appear on screen and hear what you think.
“With barely time to pack the Interiors team was on the way to London for Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW). This is the biggest national event of the year for the Interiors profession, when everyone from the industry descends on Clerkenwell and takes over its streets, warehouses and every inch of exhibition space to show the best and newest interior products, materials and furniture, as well as network and generally be inspired.
“This was the first CDW since before the pandemic and it was clear that the dominant trends are health and wellbeing, whether in commercial office design or within the home. Especially useful for an upcoming live summer project for an NHS Mental Health Hub that some students are going to help us with. At Clerkenwell it was apparent that the pandemic has widely influenced interior design thinking for example materials with infection control and anti bacterial properties were everywhere, not surprising after the last couple of years, as were wayfinding solutions to create clear circulation routes through buildings. There was an abundance of acoustic damping materials to create calmer spaces, often subtly built into lighting, desks and furniture but alongside all these functional necessities there was still enough visual overload of colour, pattern and form to delight the senses.
“Nature and natural materials are huge trends promoting biophilic spaces, all taking care to be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. There were some incredibly innovative materials that recycle what would otherwise be landfill waste and developments in the use of fast growing timbers and seaweeds to overcome current worldwide shortages of more traditional timber and plant sourced products and finishes.
“We managed to line up some great people for next year’s course talks, bagged lots of samples for our materials library in the Interior studio and caught up with a number of past graduates who were there representing their practices.
“So heading back to Teesside on the train, tired and with aching feet I’m reminded that what I love about interiors is it never stands still, there are always new things to see, unusual projects and exciting events. Interior design reflects whatever is happening in the world around us but creates spatial solutions for all human activity. Above all, as the last couple of weeks has certainly proved…it’s never dull!”
Interiors courses at Teesside University: