Join Design Factory

Design Factory promotes artistic integrity, raises the standard of craft and design and commercially supports and develops the very best designer/makers in craft practice today.

Our renowned membership is synonymous with high quality, creativity, innovation and fresh design talent. To reflect this we have an independent selection process (that includes representation from industry specialists) to assess excellence and quality of product and advise on appropriate professional development routes.

We offer three levels of subscription that are tailored to emerging, new, mid-career and established makers in the East Midlands and beyond to support professional development through our membership levels. We also welcome those who share our commitment to craft and design including enthusiasts, patrons, collectors, galleries and friends - click here to download the application form for friends

To get involved all you have to do is simply select which membership level suits you and apply.

Design Factory is committed to providing equal access to its services regardless of an individual’s race, disability, gender, faith, age or sexuality.

Fellow Flair Emerge
£75 per year £100 per year £75 per year
Eligibility By invitation only, following at least two years of Flair membership UK designer/ makers with at least two years' experience of making, exhibiting and selling their work and running a creative practice Emerging UK designer makers in the early stages of establishing a craft & design practice
Benefits: Exhibitions
  • Annual 'Synchronise' project and exhibition at the NCCD
  • Group trade shows
  • Group exhibition opportunities
  • International exhibition opportunities
  • Showcase opportunities
  • Selling opportunities through NCCD shop
  • Pop up Shop opportunities
  • Annual 'Synchronise' project and exhibition at the NCCD
  • Group trade shows
  • Group exhibition opportunities
  • International exhibition opportunities
  • Showcase opportunities
  • Selling opportunities through NCCD shop
  • Pop up Shop opportunities
  • Annual 'Emerge' exhibition
  • Showcase opportunities
  • Selling opportunities through NCCD shop
Benefits: CPD
  • Critical feedback and professional development advice (as and when required)
  • Access to FREE CPD programme through Thrive
  • Portfolio reviews
  • Opportunity to facilitate workshops through Thrive programme
  • Opportunity to facilitate workshops and events through NCCD's learning programme
  • Networking events and Get Togethers
  • Be part of a DF cluster in your area
  • Critical feedback and professional development advice from DF's independent selection panel of industry professionals
  • Business action plan meeting or telephone call (dependent on geographical location)
  • Access to FREE CPD programme through Thrive
  • Portfolio reviews
  • Opportunity to facilitate workshops through Thrive programme
  • Opportunity to facilitate workshops and events through NCCD's learning programme
  • Networking events and Get Togethers
  • Be part of a DF cluster ion your area
  • Critical feedback and professional development advice from DF's independent selection panel of industry professionals
  • Business action plan meeting or telephone call (dependent on geographical location)
  • Access to FREE CPD programme through Thrive
  • Portfolio reviews
  • Networking events and Get Togethers
  • Be part of a DF cluster ion your area
Benefits: Marketing
  • Accreditation as a selected Fellow of Design Factory
  • Profile and exposure through online directory
  • Access and free promotion through Design Factory's e-newsletter and social media profiles
  • Accreditation as a selected Flair member of Design Factory
  • Profile and exposure through online directory
  • Access and free promotion through Design Factory's e-newsletter and social media profiles
  • Accreditation as a selected Emerge member of Design Factory
  • Profile and exposure through online directory
  • Access and free promotion through Design Factory’s e-newsletter and social media profiles
Other Benefits
  • Be a part of the DF team and play an important role in the future development of Design Factory
  • Take part in independent selection of DF membership
  • Become a DF mentor
  • Networking events
  • New project opportunities
  • Networking events
  • New project opportunities
  • Networking events
Fellow Application Form » Flair Application Form » Emerge Application Form »

Case Studies

Bethany Walker - click here to visit the portfolio
Bethany Walker

Bethany graduated in 2010 from De Montfort University with a First Class Honours degree in Design Crafts. This was a multi-disciplinary course which explored jewellery, silver-smithing, ceramics, glass and textiles. The diversity of the course allowed Bethany to venture into various workshops and combine techniques and she then completed an artist residency in 2011 at the same university to continue to explore the combination of cement and textiles in her work - and this has become her ‘signature' combination of materials.

When asked to highlight the significant achievements in her practice, Bethany replied:

"It is hard to decide on my most significant achievement as there are many things I achieved to date - some personal achievements with big effects and other bigger projects. But if I had to choose it would have to be a tossup between my scholarship with the Embroiderers' Guild in 2012/13 and more recently my collaboration with textile artist Ruth Singer. Both, in different ways, had such positive effects on my practice."

Bethany joined Design Factory in 2011 and has taken part in our regional exhibition programme at venues such as SOCK Gallery in Loughborough and in our new exhibition celebrating craft collaboration - Synchronise II. Bethany was also part of the DF group at CRAFT London in 2014, has attended Thrive sessions and delivered workshops and demonstration sessions.

Asked how DF has helped her practice and what she values about her membership, Bethany replied:

"There have been a number of highlights during my time with Design Factory including exhibiting with them on a number of occasions, but the thing that I will always value the most is the mentoring I received from Stella Corrall as part of Design Factory's mentoring scheme in 2012/13. With the help of Stella I took my creative practice to the next level.

Most of all I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Design Factory ‘family' - a great network of creatives with whom I can share ideas, achievements, problems with and in return gain wisdom and insight from others at different stages in their career."

And finally, Bethany's response on being nominated for the Membership Excellence Award:

"I am absolutely thrilled to have been considered let alone nominated for this award. There are so many talented makers in Design Factory so I feel very privileged to have even been considered."

 

 
Janie (Knitted Textiles) Ltd - click here to visit the portfolio
Janie (Knitted Textiles) Ltd

Jane Withers is a knitted textile artist/maker, developing contemporary fabrics with traditional techniques. Jane graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 1995 with a first class Knitwear degree and has worked in design studios for knitted textile companies. In 2003 she started a textile practice at home and developed a range of contemporary knitted fabrics using domestic knitting machines.

Jane's early years were influenced by her creative family, who encouraged an appreciation of the arts and countryside. After finishing school and college, she worked in administrative and secretarial roles, and it was not until she reached her late twenties that she began to take steps to make a career in fashion and textiles. The next few years were spent doing evening City & Guilds classes GCSEs and eventually being accepted onto an Art based Foundation course in 1990 prior to spending 4 years at Nottingham Trent University.

Currently she concentrates on making knitted fabrics and products in a studio at the Harley Foundation in Nottinghamshire. Janie Knitted Textiles was established in 2005. Jane works with her partner Michael Hanmer and they produce products for interiors and fashion. With an emphasis on sustainability, wool has become their core material along with linen and cotton.

Jane joined Design Factory in September 2005 and was in the first group of members to be invited to move up to Fellow membership in 2011. Jane has been involved in many DF projects and exhibitions over the years, including DF's first regional showcases at Rufford Craft Centre and City Gallery, Leicester in 2005 and 2006. Trade opportunities with DF have included 100% Design, Design Interiors at the NEC, Grand Designs Live and an export / research mission to Paris in 2009. Jane was also a mentor during DF's Mentoring scheme pilot project in 2012.

Jane says "It's been interesting to see Design Factory evolve over the years and it is exciting to still be part of it. The best attribute of Design Factory is its inclusiveness, bringing together makers and artists from different disciplines within craft and design and to nurture their talents to the highest standards."

Finally, Jane's comments on her nomination for the Membership Excellence Awards: "Receiving a nomination from Design Factory feels good! A recognition of the dedication and passion we have for our practice."

 

 
Stuart Akroyd Contemporary Glass - click here to visit the portfolio
Stuart Akroyd Contemporary Glass

Stuart's glass career spans 30 years - he started making glass during his BA in 3D Glass with Ceramics at (what was then) Sunderland Polytechnic back in September 1985. He describes his first experience of blowing glass as a ‘Eureka moment' and his love and enthusiasm for his chosen material continues to this day.

After graduation Stuart went on to gain a Post Graduate Diploma from the internationally renowned Glass Centre at Brierley Hill, West Midlands and was then head hunted to work for a practising glassblower. This experience helped Stuart to learn his trade before returning to Sunderland to set up his own practice in 1991. He chose to go back to Sunderland as he was able to hire facilities (setting up a glass studio can be prohibitively expensive!) and was also able to teach on the course he'd graduated from; a job that he enjoyed for 8 years whilst establishing his practice. After meeting his wife Sarah in 1999 Stuart relocated to Nottingham and has been at his studio in Thoroton Street for the past 12 years.

In 1999 Neues Glas Review selected Stuart's work in their 100 best pieces of glass made in the world that year - a considerable accolade as the publication is internationally revered. Other highlights of Stuart's career have been inclusion in the exhibitions Made in the Middle (that toured Midlands venues in 2012) and Raw to Refined at Bilston Craft Gallery in 2008. Stuart's work is sought after for commission and collection and he has stockists in the UK and overseas.

Stuart joined Design Factory in September 2005 and was in the first cohort of members to be invited to move up to Fellow membership in 2011. He has taken part in many of Design Factory's exhibitions at East Midlands venues over the past 10 years and has also been involved in DF's international programme. Following the 2009 research mission to Paris, Stuart has exhibited at every January edition of Maison&Objet since 2010 and as a result has gained orders and commissions from approximately 20 countries across the globe. His international clients include galleries, retailers, interior stores and casinos - he has just completed a large order from Maison&Objet in January this year and sent it to Las Vegas. Stuart also took part in the DF research mission to New York in 2013 which resulted in a new body of work that launched in Paris in January. Stuart says "Design Factory has opened up so many opportunities internationally; the support gives financial confidence to explore new markets and it is a brilliant network of makers with great camaraderie". He says that he would never give up his membership of Design Factory, likening it to an insurance policy - "you never know what might be around the corner!" He likes the fact that DF consults its members on all future programming and listens to ideas and suggestions, making it member-led with space and time for all members to contribute. "In 30 years I've never known an organisation like it, Design Factory is fantastic."

And finally, Stuart's thoughts on his nomination for the Membership Excellence Award: "I'm truly humbled... I'm just a bloke trying to do his best... and completely chuffed to bits".