We are excited to welcome Emily Skinner as the 2019 Curator of One Year In! The founder of interactive 3D surface design company Evan James Design, Emily Skinner specialises in producing innovative surfaces for retail spaces, exhibitions and private homes. She runs this alongside collaborative design projects, HE lecturing and exhibition curation. Her working practice is diverse, facilitating a comprehensive insight into starting out in the creative industries. We caught up with Emily to find out more about her practice and what excited her most about being involved with One Year In.
We’re really excited to welcome you as One Year In Curator – what are you looking forward to about the role?
I feel in a very privileged position; I will get to meet, greet, interact with, work alongside and facilitate the next wave of designers to take note of as they start their creative careers. It’s a unique time and one that we can all remember, to be part of that journey, is as you say; very exciting.
Tell us about your experience of exhibiting in One Year In?
It’s hard to believe that was less than four years ago. I can remember every detail and smile every time.
I hadn’t had the opportunity to exhibit as a graduate as part of New Designers and always felt I had missed an opportunity. Reaching the stage where I was ready to launch my creative practice, One Year In was the obvious starting point and target for the next year. It was to be the first step in a quite intensive three stage plan of introducing myself and my products to industry, making the necessary contacts, gaining consistent Press exposure and hopefully securing commissions. Inevitably, all plans encounter unexpected factors influencing the process and testing your true resilience. In my case, this was starting my first year of HE lecturing 3 months before the OYI application deadline.
As with most creative practitioners, that first year of business is incredibly experimental and fluid. I’m pretty sure I tested curator Rheanna Lingham’s confidence in me as I transitioned from printed textiles to trialing the modular surface coverings only 5 weeks before the opening due to the teaching commitments. Consequently, One Year In became the perfect platform to gather invaluable feedback on the new surfaces from the best industry figures across a diverse range of disciplines within the creative industries. It truly launched my career and most importantly, helped me find the confidence in my design convictions. It had all been worth it and I could never have succeeded without the support of the OYI team and fellow exhibitors.
What’s the story behind you and your business – what inspired you to start?
Oh crikey, this is a tricky one!
Born in Kent, Greater London area, I graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design, UAL in 2008 with a First Class Honors in Textile Design. A diverse range of freelance jobs from constructing optical fibre chandeliers to delivering drop in handling sessions of techno textile materials at the V&A resulted in relocating to West Wales for an apprenticeship in antique restorations of Japanned Lacquer Ware. In 2014 I was still in West Wales, milking cows part time alongside providing a textile and wallpaper printing service. My creative drive felt neglected for too long and it was time to put into practice my ambitions; designing aesthetically beautiful products for a circular economy.
Initially, I utilised my printing skills and started working with the latest multi functional printing inks. However, generating two dimensional repeat patterns seemed an arduous task when I just wanted to play with materials in a three dimensional framework. Through visual research and discussions with peers, I had that epiphany moment and the idea for the Three Dimensional Interactive Modular Surface system literally materialised one night. My plans for launching at OYI instantly changed, my excitement was all for this new surface system.
Untested, the launch was a tale of two halves, screen printed products one side and a large panel of the interactive surface the other. The response was unprecedented. I focused solely on developing the modular surface to industry standards. From OYI and another trade show I gained two invaluable business mentors who are still with me to this day.
Upon graduation, I never intended to be a sole business trader, it’s a lonely path. A a result, I actively seek collaboration, work closely with my manufacturers, still lecture part time and curate other designer/maker exhibitions. It makes for a continually fresh, up to date and challenging insight into the design world. Throughout, I’m continually inspired by the mantra;
‘even amongst the tiniest of startups, it’s rare a single person makes everything happen. Success has a way of demanding help, and failure doesn’t need anyone’ (J. Spool 2013).
What are you looking for from this year’s One Year In Applicants?
Something that makes me look twice, creating an inquisitive desire to find out more.
What piece of advice would you give to this year’s applicants?
Have confidence in what you are presenting, but enough resilience to invite constructive criticism from peers, industry figures and those you aspire to. Be humble and kind; who knows what creative collaborative opportunities this could lead to?
Why should people apply for One Year In 2019?
If you’re looking to enter the creative industries, it is a must. You will not find any other trade show offering the support, calibre of visitors and press coverage in the UK, in my opinion. The design industry is going through transitional times, on the one hand there is a keen resurgence in creativity yet on the other hand, there’s uncertainty in the economy post Brexit. Akin to 10 years ago, it’s an entrepreneurial market.
Find out if you are eligible to take part and how you can apply for One Year In below.