Deborah Barker, Editor in Chief of Homes & Gardens, will interview Claire Vallis, creative director of brands at Style Library, which includes Harlequin, and Hannah Bowen designer at Scion and ND alumni about their past experience in the show on Friday 29 June at 1pm.

Style Library is also presenting an award at New Designers, the New Designers Harlequin Award on Week 1. Find out more here:

We asked Deborah Barker, Editor in Chief of Homes & Gardens, about her creative background, and her current role within Home & Gardens.

→  Tell us a little bit about your talk and what the key takeaways you think will be

The talk that I will be hosting with Claire Vallis creative director, Style Library and Hannah Bowen, Scion designer is aimed at looking into the transition from university course into a working environment. There are so many pluses for an employer appointing a graduate into their studio, but there will always be some challenges. What I want to tease out from Claire is how she sees incorporating new talent into her teams, what they bring and what they need to be aware of before entering the world of work. I hope that the talk will be relevant for both graduates and industry professionals alike giving both advice and ideas.

 Tell us a little about you and your design background

Although it was a long time ago now I was awarded a BA Hons in Graphic Design from Norwich School of Art, now called the Norwich University of the Arts. Originally when I left my course I wanted to be a packaging designer but my first job was working for a small agency that specialised in rebranding magazines. Staying in the magazine world ever since, working as a designer originally then moving over into an editorial role. Over the years I have seen the magazine world transform from working without computers at all, to running a totally digital workflow. What I have always loved about working in the design world is the use of colour. Typography and pattern has also always played a key role as well. In my current role what I enjoy most is mentoring my team as well as using the magazine to promote the very best in design. It is this desire to discover new and interesting things that I adore and always being inquisitive would be a piece of advice that I would pass on to any designer. The one thing that I learnt rather than being told was stay calm. Working in an environment that is based totally on constant regular deadlines, there is never any benefit to be gained by losing your cool.

→ Give us an insight into your company

As editor-in-chief of Homes & Gardens I see myself as just a custodian of what is a heritage brand. Homes & Gardens has been inspiring its readers to create beautiful homes since June 1919. At its heart is the essence of the beautiful, much loved home; effortlessly stylish, constantly evolving and generous in spirit, a place where anyone would feel at ease.

We cherish and protect our long rich heritage, but Homes & Gardens is not stuck in aspic. By sharing ideas, knowledge, and expert opinion, for 100 years we have empowered our readers throughout the decades. The home and garden is our heartland but we are children of the 21st century, with a global awareness and eye on the future that informs everything we do.

As part of everything we do we hold annual Homes & Gardens Fabric Awards. Not only do we use the awards to celebrate the very best in fabric and wallpaper design from the current year, we also include a category called One To Watch where we celebrate newcomers into the industry. So anyone who would like to enter look out for our Instagram @homesandgardensuk post in a few weeks time with details on how to enter.


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