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Favourites from the GSA Degree Show 2016

When I first started writing this blog post, I was planning to make it part of my Top 5 series. But I can't narrow down the talent I seen at the recent Glasgow School of Art Degree Show to just that. 

This was the best degree show to date I've seen from Glasgow's flagship art school. The GSA is one of the smaller art schools in Scotland and thus, most years it's not been too difficult to pick five favourites (as opposed to picking five favourites from Duncan of Jordanstone, though Helen did manage that feat this year). But the talent from the small pool of 2016 graduates was just so damn good I could not pick. The displays were stunning - and I can see many of the designers finding success in the commercial market (I'm a marketer and my eye is always drawn to the commercially viable pieces - sorry, arty types). 

I've decided to split my favourites into each area of study. The only discipline I'll be missing out is architecture as I wasn't able to make my way that far in time. 

Silversmith & Jewellery: Evgeniia Balashova

I love jewellery with geometric shapes, and I love jewellery that uses pastel colours. Merge those two together and you have the work of Evgeniia Balashova. According to her website, her designs are inspired by the repetitiveness of office life: she takes regular objects and morphs them into a distorted shape. To bring her designs to life she applies 3D printing, lost wax casting and recycled IT parts. Imagine having a a ring on your finger inspired by a motherboard? Nerd jewellery dreams. 

Textiles & Fashion Design: Penny Hewitt

As we've seen from my favourite jewellery collection, I like geometric patterns and pastel colours. My favourite collection in the Textiles & Fashion show doesn't deviate too far away from this preference. Penny Hewitt designs textiles with 3D elements and non-repetitive patterns through hand embroidery - naming her collection Softly Structured. In particular it was this circular 3D pattern that caught my attention - I'd love to turn this into a skirt or a cushion. 

Out of all the collections available, it was the textiles where I felt the talent was strongest and I struggled to choose just one designer. So I feel some honorary shout outs are in order: Sarah Morris and her knitted cushion designs, Rochelle McGuiness who also designs beautiful 3D geometric textiles, Rosie Noon who designed this beautiful fabric, Hilary Macauley with her prints that remind me of doodles painted with watercolour and Emily Stopford with her bright printwork. 

Communication Design: Trudi Hannah

Communication Design is one I sometimes have trouble with. Artists sometimes create great visual pieces that are beautiful to look at, but leave you standing there wondering what the hell it actually is. Without an explanation handy some pieces in the communication design collection can be filed under 'confusing for anyone who doesn't have an art degree'. What I loved about Trudi Hannah's piece was that I understood it from the second I looked at it - without reading the accompanying text I already knew this was an impassioned piece about the effects of car pollution on young children. 

Another communication design project that I loved came from Megan Watkins. Her project was designing a website that helped break-down Alzheimer's so family and friends of those diagnosed could better understand the disease. Her concept was an alphabet where each letter represented a different visual and fact about the Alzheimer's. Not only was her project important, it was brought to life in a visually beautiful manner. 

Product Design: Paul Omoniyi

Product design is always one of my favourites. This year mobile applications were a big thing among the graduates, and as someone who is always looking for a great new app I was heavily nosing round. My favourite though was GSN by Paul Omoniyi, an app that allows students to search for other students who have skills they require for a project. I was a business student so for me personally, there was never much requirement for this. But - as you probably know - Abertay is famous for its games courses and I remember my friends who had an idea for a game, but needed a sound producer/artist/animator/programmer to collaborate with. For them, this app could have helped several projects get off the ground. 

Other apps that caught my eye were Worn Stories (a fashion app) and Cluster (a job searching app that focuses on non-traditional skills that employers might still want to consider). I also liked the idea behind Broken Records by Calum Macleod that celebrates the creation of music and invites music lovers to be an audience during the creation process. 

Interior Design: Merve Kirkpantur

As a foodie, my pick for interior design was the Molecule Restaurant by Merve Kikrpantur. I wasn't previously familiar with molecular gastronomy, but now that I am I want to try this exciting cuisine that is blended with science. The overall design of the restaurant was spot on and fitted the concept perfectly with a bar area with snacks for people who only want to dip their fingers into the menu. She also had a few mock dishes in her portfolio - many of them not containing meat. If she ever opens this restaurant for real in Glasgow I am so there. 

Another design that caught my eye was Danielle van Rhijn with her Box Set cafe/cinema concept

Fine Art: Ash Kitchen

I was never originally going to pop by the Fine Art Show. It was held in the Merchant City as opposed to the GSA main building, but I found myself in the area Saturday afternoon so decided to give it a try. Like Communication Design, it can sometimes make me feel confused as to what I am looking at - I'm firmly in the camp that a canvas with a blob on it is not art. So for me, only students who created something that was of a more traditional persuasion were going to end up on my favourites list. 

Enter Ash Kitchen. Her oil paintings had elements of pop culture so obviously that caught my eye, but they were demure enough so they wouldn't look out of place in an average person's house. I'd legitimately buy a print of her work for my living room wall. 

The Glasgow School of Art Degree Show has now finished but make sure you put it in your calendar for next year. If you don't live in Glasgow, check out when your nearest art school's degree show is - it's always a good chance to check out some upcoming talent.

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