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2019 Winner - Ellen Adams

Ellen Adams – Winner of the CIDA 2019 award at New Designers Part 2.

​Where did you study and what was the course title?

Manchester School of Art – 3D Design

Name of your lecturer – course tutor?

Geoffrey Mann and CJ O’Neill

Have you got a creative mission statement?

To promote creative play in adults.

How important is colour in your work and how do you choose and narrow down colours?

Colour is an incredibly important part of my creative practice. I’m very interested in the way that people engage with objects and materials, questioning if surface or colour impacts our interactions with certain objects.

When designing my glass play set I enjoy the way the translucency of the glass interplays with the colours chosen, through layering the shapes the colour changes and adds intrigue to the shapes, making you want to find out more. My colour palette is inspired by the Memphis design movement, I want the primary colours to contrast with one another emphasising the graphic and bold shapes within the play set.

Tell us about our creative process – where do you find inspiration?

The mundane matters to me, I find myself walking around my urban landscape looking for inspiration of ways that shapes and colours meet. Using verbs to define these moments I then test myself to recreate these connections into physical materials. These may stay as they are, as sort of a library of ‘connections’ or I might test these shapes into more considered materials and processes.

What is the best bit of the creative process – journey or destination?

The Journey! I am inspired by people’s physical reactions to materials, testing if one person’s assumption of a material is the same as another. I want to encourage adults to become more creative in their physical interactions, allowing themselves to become problem solvers and figure out a process/material for themselves. I am very hands on with my initial making, working out how one shape fits with another. In my designed play sets I want to facilitate this moment for others to experience along with me.

Creative high point?

These last 2 months have been a creative high point for me. I have finished my degree and now get to live my dream of displaying my work for the world to see. I can’t wait to peruse my creative career!

Creative low point?

For me, glass was an extremely scary material to work with. I’ve had smashes, scratches, drops and that’s not even when attempting to work in the hot shop. I’ve had moments I wanted to just try a new material all together. But it’s when you cut a piece into a new interesting shape or finish endless hours of polishing to achieve a special and shiny new piece, then it all seems worth it.

Where do you want to be in 3 years’ time?

I want to have my own studio, developing the ‘Stack’ play set further into new forms and exciting colours. To exhibit my work all around the world at various material and glass showcases. I also plan to run my own material workshops to develop adults’ attitudes towards creative play.

Is there one person during your studies/life who has really made a difference to you? – Maybe in terms of encouraging you when you were at a low point, pushing you in different directions unlocking your potential etc.

I have 2.

My tutor Mark McLeish. He’s always encouraged me to be free in my response to materials, and on one specific bad day when I was just taking my work to seriously he said to give myself a creative break and enjoy myself “make stuff out of jelly and have fun with it.” Which at the time really just helped me to let myself go creatively and reminded me that I shouldn’t be afraid to be experimental, because it is who I am as a maker.

Dan Nuttall, the technician in glass as MSOA. He’s really developed my love of glass over the past year, reminding me of the capabilities the material holds and showed me that simplicity is extremely effective when designing in glass and not to over complicate things.

What does it mean to win a Colour in Design Award?

I feel like my hard work has paid off. It’s an amazing feeling to be recognised by a selection of such influential designers and practitioners. The mentorship that comes with the award is priceless and something that has just given me a massive boost in my creative career. I couldn’t be more pleased and grateful!

What do you plan to do with the prize money?

The prize money will help fund my studio. I plan to buy relevant materials and equipment to keep making my play sets and also use the money to promote my work in various competitions.

What is your favourite colour?

Cobalt blue! It’s a running joke with my friends that it’s the only colour in my wardrobe.

Image credits: @Aidanwlybore

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