Next Generation Conversations: Supporting SCENE Interiors’ creative collaboration with Manchester Academy.

Credit: Owen Peters

The spark that ignites a passion in the next generation of interior designers, architects, and built environment professionals has the potential to be struck in education.

During this time, it’s critical to convey the vast variation of careers that make up our sector. Check out our podcast series 42 Roles in the Built Environment for more on this!

At Material Source Studio, a crucial part of our ethos is to support the education providers in our local community, and beyond, to facilitate conversations between young people and industry leaders.

Taking what started as our Next Gen online series, offline once again, we hosted a workshop with Courteney Kiely, founder & creative director of SCENE Interiors to feed into her wider initiative to offer students from Manchester Academy an immersive grassroots exploration into the world of commercial design - through a series of hands-on sessions.

Courteney's initiative aims to provide invaluable insight and support to art and design students, to help them understand the sector through interactive workshops leading to a live project to bring the learnings to life. This will see the renovation of the school's library space, with the students inputting throughout.

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

For the first workshop that took place at Material Source Studio Manchester, we were keen to allow the students to be fully immersed in all things materiality to fuel inspiration for the library redesign.

This included eight partner presentations covering a breadth of subjects - from material DNA and technologies to product applications and their lifecycles, followed by moodboard exploration and creation.

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Kristina O’Keefe kicked off the partner presentations with an introduction to Agua’s specialised technical upholstery fabrics, which are durable, fire retardant, waterproof, stain-resistant and anti-microbial.

The fire retardant technical aspects of the fabrics particularly intrigued the students - Kristina showed videos that explained the difference between a fire treated fabric and a fabric which hadn’t been treated. This was a fantastic start to the material and brand presentations as the students learnt about the importance of selecting the 'right' materials and how the technology of a fabric can be critical to the design of a commercial space.

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Elaine Reynolds and Paul Griffiths from Altro gave an overview of safety flooring. Elaine and Paul included educational case studies to inspire the students and show how their safety flooring comprises design mixed with functionality. A key point covered was their adhesive-free flooring, an innovative advancement in technology to help reduce environmental impact.

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Next, Sarah-Louise Dixon intrigued the students with fabrics made from natural fibres by Camira. Sarah went over a selection of collections, covering different material compositions, from hemp and wool to recycled polyester - evoking many questions from the students such as "how can a fabric be acoustic?" and "can a nettle fabric be Crib 5?"

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Dave Starkey gave an introduction to the Danish brand Ege Carpets. Dave included multiple real life case studies from international brands they have worked with – inspiring the students on how carpet can be used to create softer spaces through the design potential of mixing textures and colours.

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Janet Fearnhead from Forbo delved into the lifecycles of their flooring products - focusing on where they are made, what they are made from and how they can be recycled through their ‘Back to the Floor’ programme. This gave the students insight into the full life span of products and the importance of thinking about where the material goes after it’s finished with.

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Laura Varley gave a colourful presentation to the students, much like the Mustard Made brand itself. Laura showcased the Mustard Made colour rainbow, consisting of 12 playful colours which the locker designs can be selected in. This led to a colour debate and the students selecting their favourites from the range - Sage taking the top spot.

Sharron Wormald from Vepa presented an array of sustainable furniture pieces. The make-up of each furniture product was showcased from their innovative Hemp collection to their Felt collection created from recycled PET. This highlighted how furniture can transform a space and create zones in open plan areas, an important aspect for the students to consider in the refurbishment of their library.

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

To wrap up the partner presentations, Ajai Pal gave insight into Zentia’s ceiling solutions. A UK manufacturer producing all types of ceiling products for the built environment, including acoustic and decorative ceiling solutions, Ajai explained the creative possibilities to the students in terms of how colours and shapes can be included in designs to reflect the spaces they are used in.

After a packed presentation schedule the students put their knowledge into action by exploring the Studio and creating their own moodboards. Courteney set the brief to create moodboards for their ideal library design. With a wealth of material and product information and inspiration on offer, the students went around the Studio and excitedly gathered tactile samples – asking Courteney lots of questions to help figure out the best materials to put together.

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

Credit: Owen Peters

A fantastic day for inspiration and learning - it was amazing to experience the students' curiosity and enthusiasm.

A huge thanks to SCENE Interiors and to the Manchester Academy, and to all our partners for sharing their brand and material insights. We can’t wait to see how the project progresses, and how Courteney and the students reimagine their library. Watch this space...