Rosy Napper's lighting at Green Grads, London Design Week 2024

Meet the Green Grads

The Green Grads first made an appearance at London Design Week 2023, and they’re back this year with a new raft of recent graduates who all put sustainability at the heart of their practice. Design journalist Barbara Chandler founded the initiative during Covid, when she saw that design graduates were not getting enough exposure or attention for their end-of-year shows: putting the focus on sustainability helps to pinpoint the next generation of change-makers who are all working for a wider environmental or social benefit.

The display in Design Centre East during London Design Week 2024 features 15 (out of wider 150) makers, all with different stories to tell. The reuse of waste materials is a big theme here: Christoph Kurzmann’s furniture is reinvented from discarded commercial furniture; Simon Roberts’ Stick Brick project sees the thousands of wooden chopsticks thrown away by restaurants assembled into stable blocks that are strong enough to be made into furniture; and glass artist William Harris (pictured below right), whose tiered lighting made from waste green bottles was a hit at last year’s show, has returned with a new development – colourful, naturalistic flowers (again made from empty bottles) that are the individual components for a stunning chandelier.

Biomaterials are another thread running through. Frond, a leather-like material made from seaweed, is the work of Northumbria University’s Henry Davison, who demonstrated a chair with its seat and back strung with it; while Cyanoskin by the Royal College of Art’s Emma Money is a potentially revolutionary “living” exterior paint that grows and thickens once applied, creating a layer that absorbs carbon.

There are tangible benefits to the graduates putting their work in front of London Design Week 2024’s particular audience, whether that is interior designers looking to commission a unique bespoke piece, or a showroom that might be able to put a cutting-edge new material to use at a greater scale. Denimolite, a hard material made from shredded and compressed denim waste in resin, had caught the eye of one showroom as a possible material to use in a future collection, according to its inventor, Josh Myers. Rosy Napper, whose lighting made from the ReCinder material she has developed from waste ash and broken ceramics (pictured above left) says that Green Grads “is one of the best things to come out of my graduate show,” adding that she had has “lots of really good conversations” during London Design Week 2024.

Green Grads, First Floor, Design Centre East