Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
Design Space is a programme supported by the Birmingham City Council and the European Regional Development Fund that gives a select group of emerging jewellery artists free studio space and business classes for one year: in exchange, the participants must commit to work at least 30 hours a week developing their own design led business.
This year Design Space supports eighteen designer-makers, and I am lucky enough to be one of the ones on this highly sought after programme. The eighteen of us were chosen from a large pool of applicants who were interviewed over the summer. In the years Design Space has been running, it has helped many new designer-makers establish themselves in Birmingham. Many of the jewellers who have relocated to Birmingham for Design Space would not have come here if it wasn’t for this scheme. Lynsey Pluck says, "I relocated to Birmingham from West Sussex solely because of the place I was offered on Design Space. Through this opportunity I have discovered the advantages of being based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and am making plans to continue living and working here.”
While free studio space in the Jewellery Quarter offers a huge jumpstart for the new jewellers, Design Space also offers a plethora of other benefits. We are given admission to the School of Jewellery’s studios and equipment, and this year we are also being given 30 hours of access to the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (JIIC) who are helping each of us develop a new range of products using state-of-the-art equipment. Business courses and professional practice classes are held once a week and we are also given one-to-one tutorials with mentors who are well-established in the jewellery field and free summer short courses at the School of Jewellery to further their training.
Since beginning the programme in September, there have been several opportunities for us to have group exhibitions: Design Space currently shows work at the exciting new We are Birmingham shop. During the Christmas season we took part in Brilliantly Birmingham's Open Studio event and Angel Craft Fair in Islington. In April we will be exhibiting our new collections at the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate (stand #295).
You can see photos of pieces produced at Design Space, as well as links to individual makers’ websites, by visiting http://designspacejewellers.blogspot.com/
If you are interested in being a part of Design Space, please visit Birmingham City Council’s website for information on applying. The programme runs for 12 calendar months, from October to September every year. If you're ever in the Birmingham area and want to visit our Design Space studios, get in touch with me- I'd absolutely love to show you around!