The young British designer spoke to Downtown Design about the support emerging designers need in order to succeed.

One of this year’s most exciting new talents, Lewis Power’s debut collection – a series of four objects that aim to completely inhabit and express their materiality – has won both critical acclaim and international awards. From a cast iron lamp and vessel to a glass vase and an aluminum lamp, each piece celebrates the inherent quality of its medium and its associated production processes with restraint and authenticity.

Whilst he basks in the glow of a spectacular debut, the struggles that got the Northumbria School of Design graduate to this point are still fresh.

“What emerging designers really need and what is feasible may be two different things,” he says on the support emerging designers need in order to succeed. "Support in the form of practical knowledge and awareness is a realistic expectation; sadly, there seems to be a lack of shared information in our field that only through trial and error, and investment of time and money is the lesson is learnt. In some cases, this is the run but with others that knowledge, had it been imparted, could really make a difference.” 

A greater emphasis on mentorship programmes - that offer creative, commercial, and logistical insights might be the way forward. “For a designer in the early years of establishing their studio, to be able to pick the brain of an established designer or brand would be an invaluable opportunity,” says Power. “We have to wear a lot of hats, for a lot of different roles in this industry and never more so when we’re starting out. To receive some words of wisdom from a professional on how to tackle obstacles or meet certain standards would be incredibly beneficial for growth.”

One of the key challenges faced by emerging designers is in finding producers for their work and managing prototyping expenses. “It’s very competitive and there are a lot of variables involved,” he says. “Whilst there are some programmes out there offering support to emerging designers in these specific areas, often in the form of competitions, these seem few and far between – especially given the number of ‘emerging’ designers or design graduates that step into the industry annually. Exhibitions and fairs are also excellent means to support emerging designers, through exposure to media, buyers, and potential collaborators.”

COVID-19 has given the industry a moment to pause and Powers hopes that the connectivity and patience that prevails, as a result, will ultimately support emerging designers in allowing them space to explore, experiment, and grow. “There seems to be a movement of solidarity between people and professions, the patience of our work, and each other. Although the design world moves fast and that’s unlikely to ever change I believe the way in which we operate will.”

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