Kingston University Fashion Stand

Mission: Design exhibition stand for Graduate Fashion Week
Client: Kingston University
Location: London, UK
Year: 2015
Role: Designer and project coordinator

Kingston University stand

The Kingston Graduate Fashion Week stand was open for business from the 31st May – 3rd June 2014 at the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London. This was a new venue for GFW although a familiar one for emerging art and design talent generally.

The Kingston fashion stand was the result of extensive collaboration between The Design School staff, students and their industry partners. It started as a curriculum option design brief for postgraduate students across the School and was run as a competition, with MA Design: Product+Space duo Virginia de Colombani and Shen Kai Lan winning.

The stand’s primary purpose was to present the BA Fashion student portfolios, a culmination of their tremendous endeavor and investment, to industry and peers. The portfolio was consequently placed at the heart of the design strategy. This manifested itself in a few basic operations – portfolio presentation, study and discussion – with two elements of furniture to accommodate, the portfolio display ladders and the ‘Butchoff’ table. These elements were simply distributed to define the overall stand space.

Additionally, three Eames Plastic Side Chairs on loan from another collaborative partner, Vitra, provided an immediately confident and complementary modern counterpoint that set the tone for the rest of the stand in keeping with GFW’s industrial theme. The final element of the design was the delicate silk georgette drape hung from a slender, blackened steel frame matching the ladder frames. It provides a soft division of space between Kingston and the neighboring stand and also creates a small degree of enclosure and privacy at the discussion table.

My role

Designing the ladders, portfolios and space, liaising with suppliers, contractors and specialists, finding exhibit props, keeping within budget, building, installing and managing the stand, as well as a team of students who volunteered to help.

Leather Portfolios

The A3 leather portfolios were purpose designed, made from a single piece of 3mm folded hide making it pleasing to handle.

Ladders

It was recognized that 27 portfolios on display could become unmanageable and unsightly, so it was decided to present their spines only, like books in a library. The ladders, inspired by the Maison de Verre in Paris, reinforced the library reference and were designed for the operations of presentation and study – the visitor would select a portfolio from the portfolio box and study it on a shelf beneath. If further discussion was required, this was undertaken at the table with the student and/or staff. The ladders were also used in the 2015 Kingston University Graduate Fashion Week stand.

Butchoff Table

The table was a mid-Victorian, walnut, tilt-top with marquetry hunt scenes that informed the leather portfolio design. It had been loaned by Butchoff Antiques with whom a collaborative partnership was already established on another postgraduate project as part of their 50 year anniversary celebrations. It was a distinctive piece, particularly within the context of the raw industrial venue, and had a weighty presence that anchored the stand with authority.

2014 Graduate Fashion Week

Photos by Ezzidin Alwan

Behind the scenes