Inspiring Inclusion: Women Shaping the Design Landscape

Inspiring others as a Neurodivergent Artist with Belinda King

International Women’s Day 2024 is coming up this week, with this year’s edition honouring the theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion’.

We’ve spoken to a number of inspirational members of the #NDCommunity who have shared their experiences of being a woman in the design industry, and what inspires them to forge a more inclusive future. In this series of interviews, meet the individuals who are breaking down barriers and driving inclusion in their practices to shape the future of design with creativity and resilience.

Belinda King is an artist creating glass blown and kiln formed glass homeware and one off pieces of art. She adds patterns afterwards in a way that can’t be recreated each time, making every piece unique.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Inspire Inclusion’, what does this mean to you?

‘As a woman who is also autistic, inclusion is something that means a lot to me. Every small business owner has a story that is so important to share, as their experiences and knock backs can be the answer to a question that someone is currently struggling with. By being inclusive, we are able to bring in people whose background and viewpoints are unique to themselves, and this can start conversations and ideas that haven’t been had yet. Speaking from my personal experience, seeing others who are neurodivergent push what they are capable of doing and showcase the highs and the lows of daily life, it validates the things that I am experiencing. If I could inspire other women/neurodivergent people to give their creativity its time to shine, I think that is one of the greatest things we can do as a creative.’

Is there a particular woman in the design world that inspires you?

‘One of the first small business owners I remember falling in love with as both a business and as a woman in the creative world was Lauren Aston from Lauren Aston Designs. She runs a chunky knit business, and she brings so much of her personality to her work and what she creates. There have been so many times that I have viewed her social media and left smiling, whilst also enjoying the products that she makes. I have followed her on social media for years now, and to see Lauren’s business go from strength to strength has been amazing, but to see her with an all female team now helping her run her business is incredible and gives me inspiration for where I would love my business to be in 5 years time.’

What piece of advice would you give to women pursuing a career in the design world?

‘I highly recommend finding other creatives, even if they are people you meet through social media, to talk to and lean on. I am so incredibly lucky that I have quite a few women in my life who I can go to talk about anything within my business that I am struggling with, and they are able to offer me new perspectives and solutions to the problems. I always find that I am so invested in what I do and what I am designing/making, that I sometimes struggle to be objective over things that might not be working out. Having that support network there is a real lifeline to me, and it gives me time out of my schedule when I speak to them to decompress and come back with a clearer head.’

Is there a particular woman designer or women-run design business you’d like to give a shout out to?

‘I was very lucky to be taught how to work with glass at University by two absolutely incredible women, Jill Ellinsworth and Dr Helen Slater Stokes. I wouldn’t have had the guts to try working with glass if it wasn’t for them, so I would love to thank them and share their names for being the incredible women that they are. A lot of my closest friends from University are also women who have gone on to run their own small business, and I would love to say all their names if I could. However, the one who I would love to shout out is Parneet Pahwa, who runs Matkewalli. Parneet and I were lucky enough to be chosen as the artist in residences for our course once our degrees ended. Sharing that year with Parneet, who is a ceramicist but also such a talented designer/maker with websites and CAD as well, was something that I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced. The year we spent as residents solidified what I wanted to focus on when running my small business, and Parneet was such an incredible support in that time frame and all the days since.’

To experience Belinda’s work for yourself, join us at New Designers 2024 where she will be exhibiting her designs as part of ND Selects. Learn more below.

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