Design students scoop top UK awards

The accolades are among the most important in the UK for young design talent, recognising students for innovative and ground-breaking work.

The careers of two young designers from Heriot-Watt's School of Textiles and Design are poised to take off after scooping prestigious awards at this year's New Designers exhibition in London, beating off stiff competition from over 3,000 newly graduated designers.

Young design talent

Rachel Howarth from Aberdeenshire was awarded The Textile Society Lucienne Day Award for her high-end interior design and art collection, and Amy Gair from Shetland won the New Designers Worshipful Company of Weavers Associate Prize for her woven fabrics collection.

The accolades are among the most important in the UK for young design talent, recognising students for innovative and ground-breaking work.

Mark Parker, Director of Studies for Textiles within the School of Textiles and Design says he's in no doubt these awards will present opportunities for both Rachel and Amy.

I'm extremely pleased their hard work under the guidance from the textile design teaching team has achieved this level of recognition

I'm extremely pleased their hard work under the guidance from the textile design teaching team has achieved this level of recognition

Mark Parker, Director of Studies for Textiles, School of Textiles and Design

Rachel, aged 23, who takes inspiration from bold colours and geometric architecture, was praised by the judges for her use of digital technology alongside more traditional dye techniques, as well as her innovative ideas around decorating corporate spaces and the exterior of buildings.

Rachel is no stranger to winning awards; she picked up the Worshipful Company of Dyers Prize two years running, in 2013 and 2014, for her innovative use of colour, and has interned at interior design company, Timorous Beasties, and card and wrapping paper company Tigerprint.

She said, "Colour is always at the forefront of my collection. I use a combination of dyeing and screen and digital printing techniques that achieve beautiful colour blends that make striking lengths of fabric suitable for curtains, drapes, art pieces and fabric wall panels."

Using her own photographs and artwork of Shetland, Amy captures the movement of line, colour and geometric shape on traditional woven fabrics like herringbones, twills, lambswool and merino. She was praised by the judges for being aesthetically excellent, as well as an individual who will find a real place in the UK weaving industry.

Explaining her designs in more detail, Amy, 23, added, "Traditional woven qualities of herringbones, twills and checks are all part of my design process and although most of the collection is hand-woven, the more complex designs are created through a computer programme."

Mark Parker said, "Rachel and Amy are incredibly talented designers, both demonstrating forward thinking and cutting-edge ideas. I'm extremely pleased their hard work under the guidance from the textile design teaching team has achieved this level of recognition. I'm in no doubt this prestigious award will open doors for them as they prepare for successful careers in the fashion and interior design industry."