I got a little thrill when a printmaker I’d bought from on Ebay went on to design for Habitat, while an upcycler I’d bought a quirky lamp from was featured in Elle Deco. But spotting talent before it hits the mainstream is not just an abstract thrill – it could lead to snapping up a bargain from the next Tom Dixon, or simply finding something unique for your home. But where are these creative upstarts hiding?
Start name-shopping Discover designers and discounts at the online shops showcasing new talent. My faves are Bouf, Our Workshop and Made.
Pre-picked The Design Museum’s prestigious Designers in Residence programme nurtures just five or so talented types. Names are on their website, watch ’em. From the last batch, Farm Designs’s Giles Miller has already been commissioned by Stella Mcartney.
Show off Design Shows – try those under the annual London Design Festival umbrella (September) – are of course fertile ground. Habitat talent spot at New Designers (the cream of new graduates, happens in June). Not in London? Stalk the websites for names, track the designers’ own sites/blogs for stockists and news.
Rising to the top But how to sort the crème de la crème from the cream? Look for “a passionate designer who knows his materials, ideas and influences,” says Alan Hughes, VP of the Inchbald School of Design. His current tip from New Designers is Morven Strachen who won the textile section. He also recommends Designers Block (“great for the unexpected”) and Free Range, which starts 31 May (“great energy”).
Follow the leaders If Twitter baffles you, think of it merely as a personalised newsfeed. Who to follow? Find an interiors Tweeter whose style you rate (a favourite shop or magazine?) and copy who they follow and who follows them. Find another: repeat. Soon your Twitter homepage will be dotted with nuggets of insider design tips as they spot and name drop.
Blog on Camron PR agency does all the big style names (Anouska Hempel, Liberty, B&B Italia…). As well as writing their own nugget packed blog, they swear by the hugely influential Dezeen and Mocoloco. I also love Décor8.
A shorter version of these tips was originally published in the Independent on Sunday's New Review