A few words on choosing new designers

This post is by Christine Kaltoft, the Designer Jewellers Group member who co-ordinates our New Designers programme. Christine was herself chosen by the DJG as a New Designer in 2007.

This Friday heralds one of the highlights of my year: visiting the New Designers show at London’s Business Design Centre! Each year I co-ordinate a small selection team on our annual quest to select six of the best new jewellers to join us in our winter show at the Barbican.

I have to warn you that if you’re exhibiting you won’t know who we are: we wander round separately or in pairs, each scanning all the talent on offer, honing in on the work we think is best, and gathering knowledge about it so we can convince the rest of the team!

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Shortlisting can be a pretty cut-throat business: from an amazing array of new work from graduates all over the country we have to select just six, and as our selection team comprises seven practicing designer jewellers and a curator from the Barbican, we’ll no doubt all have our own opinions and favourites.

Once again – if you’re exhibiting – please do stand by your work, or be ready to actively approach people who look as if they might be interested. I’ve seen, over the years, that there’s a really high correlation between exhibitors who pay attention to the visitors and chat in a friendly manner, and those who end up with successful businesses. It’s just so important. We know you’re likely to be nervous, we know you won’t necessarily have a whole, priced, ready to go collection, but what we’re looking for is people with individuality and enthusiasm who’re prepared to work hard. And a key way for us to judge that is by talking with you – so please don’t hang back!

Last year our chosen six included Cristina Zani, Heather Woof, and Arturo Borego, and we’re looking forward to catching up with them in the One Year On section of the show. It’s great seeing how new makers work develops over the years. We offer each of the new designers we select a mentor from the group, and sometimes these relationships continue for years, albeit in a looser way. Networking is so very important in this line of work, and this is the time to start.

And one final piece of advice to those exhibiting: do please have postcards ready to hand out! We use them to vote for you with, in a giant, rambling game of snap! May sound odd but it works. No postcards – or cards that don’t depict your work – can really reduce your chance of success.

So good luck to you all – we’re looking forward to meeting you!


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