Graduate of UWTSD studying Surface Pattern Design Zoe Noakes is the deserving winner of a prestigious 2020 Colour in Design Award. Her in depth understanding and use of colour to transform the space around us into a multi-sensory experience that connects people together was both original and breathtaking. Find out more about this outstanding new talent.
Creative mission statement
Research driven yet kinaesthetic, my interdisciplinary practice explores the unknowns, the overlaps and the in-betweens. My work has evolved into a biomimetic enquiry focused on the dynamic relationship between pattern recognition and pattern formation. Through visual and material experimentation with archetypal geometries I aim to create work that brings people together, inspire questions and cultivate a deeper curiosity about nature and its patterns.
How did you feel about winning the Colour in Design Award – what does it mean to you.
I feel absolutely over the moon, I still can’t quite believe it! I’m very grateful to New Designers, CIDA and Marianne for supporting this year’s design graduates through these uncertain times. The recognition, encouragement and opportunities that come from winning this award are life changing. I’ve been overwhelmed by the feedback from the incredibly talented judges, the whole experience has been amazing and a much-needed confidence boost at the start of my design journey.
How important is colour in your work and how do you choose and narrow down colours?
Colour is a really important part of my life. I have chronic illnesses which mean when I’m not busy working, I’m usually busing resting or recovering. My conscious use of colour in day-to-day life has become a small but significant element of my health management and as a result my home is full of colour. The positive impact colour has on my mood and health is tangible and this experience has fuelled my interest in Ingrid Fetell Lee’s theories on the aesthetics of joy. I find it very difficult to narrow down colour choices in my work, often I work in monochrome during the design phase then exploit the optical qualities of the material I’m using while I’m making which makes colour a very tactile multi-sensory experience for me. I tend to gravitate to prismatic and iridescent palettes and materials which express a multiplicity of colour, fluidity and reflection.
What is your main source of inspiration?
I’m fascinated with repeating patterns and structures in nature and I’m particularly inspired by the writings of Buckminster Fuller, Tim Ingold and Ian McGilchrist. A lot of my research is focused on questions like; are we bio-physically wired to understand the world through the languages of pattern? And can a deeper understanding of Pattern, as itself, improve how artists, designers, makers, engineers and scientists work together to solve the urgent problems the world faces today?
Graduate of UWTSD studying Surface Pattern Design Zoe Noakes is the deserving winner of a prestigious 2020 Colour in Design Award. Her in depth understanding and use of colour to transform the space around us into a multisensory experience that connects people together was both original and breathtaking. Find out more about this outstanding new talent.
What makes you happiest/most fulfilled in your creative process?
Making and working with my hands. For me, making combines the cognitive with the tacit that gives deeper knowledge and direct experience of materials and concepts. I love exploring, experimenting, making connections, researching and questioning.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just started my masters so I’m busy working on our introductory module ‘The Thought Experiment’ based on Roger-Pol Droit’s everyday philosophy exercises. I’ve been tasked with trying ‘to measure existence’ so that’s been keeping me busy! I’ve been pretty poorly recently so it’s been great to have such an enriching and challenging distraction while I recover.
Where do you want to be in 3 years’ time?
I will have finished my masters by then so hopefully I’ll be setting up a home studio, preparing for my PhD and exhibiting my glass work - fingers crossed anyway!
Creative high point? I feel like I’ve had a few creative high points over the past few months; graduating with a first despite my health and lockdown then being selected for New Designers and going on to win CIDA!
Creative low point?
During my 3rd year my health deteriorated so I had to take time out for surgeries. I was heart broken not to be exhibiting and graduating with my classmates after 3 years of hard work and friendship. Ultimately it was better for me to step away from my studies but I hated it, I felt defeated. I retuned to complete my final year then covid came along and we went into lockdown - at times it’s felt like a never-ending race to earn my degree. But every time my health or another obstacle stops me from pursuing my work, I come back ten times more determined and infinitely more grateful to have the opportunity to do what I love.
Is there one person during your studies/life who has really made a difference to you?
This question makes me realise how many people have had a huge impact on me and helped me in so many ways. I’ve been very fortunate to know some wonderful people. The whole SPD team at UWTSD are incredible. They made the studio a home and the people in it a family while pushing us out of our comfort zones and challenging us to be our best. One person who I will always be indebted to is my support assistant Gemma Mayes who provided practical support in the workshops and worked tirelessly to ensure my potential wasn’t compromised by my disabilities. During lockdown my partner Nathan took over this role to ensure I wouldn’t be disadvantaged while we were confined to the house. These two hero’s and people like them make higher education accessible and inclusive every day, not through policy but through everyday acts, I can’t thank them enough for everything they do.
What is your favourite colour?
Such a tough question! I love colour spectrums, gradients and iridescence so it’s always had to choose, gun to my head, my favourite colour is green – any and all of them!
Shout out to your course tutors
I’m very lucky to have a whole team of specialist tutors and technicians to shout about: Georgia McKie, Julia Griffiths-Jones, Anna Lewis, Claire Savage, Kate Coode, Cath Hammerton, Cath Brown, Sharon Cooper, Lloyd James and Colin Telford – these guys are awesome!
Image credits: Zoe Noakes
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