Ceramic Designer and Potter: deVOL
Claire Fowler graduated in the summer of 2016 with a degree in 3D Design: New Practice. Studying in The School of the Arts meant that Claire had the chance to learn about different types of art and design before realising her love for ceramics. Having landed a graduate job at deVol, a company set up by a fellow Loughborough Alumni, Claire tells us about her new job and her time at Loughborough.
I was looking for a design course that would allow me to explore various materials and disciplines whilst developing my making skills and approach to design. The 3D Design: New Practice course included all of these important aspects, and after visiting the School of the Arts at an Open Day I was so impressed with the quality of the facilities on offer that Loughborough was the only place I really wanted to study.
How has your time at Loughborough University inspired you? Did you have a favourite part of your course?
I spent the first and part of my second year testing out and trying all sorts of different materials before developing a real passion for ceramics. Improving my knowledge and technique soon became my favourite part of the course, and I was able to improve every day thanks to the guidance and help of some really fantastic technicians and tutors on the 3D Design course. They really made the subject interesting and stimulating for me, and I've been able to take the skills I learnt from them into my new job at deVOL.
Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, how important were they to you?
During my time at Loughborough I was part of the Loughborough Women's Football Club. I've always played sports alongside my studies and it's always provided me with the necessary balance between work and play. It was great for socialising outside of my course, and BUCS Wednesdays were a highlight of my week!
I’m currently developing a new range of tableware and kitchenware for deVOL; mugs, bowls, plates, colanders etc, and I'm beginning to make these for customer orders. I’m also continuing my work in glaze development, producing tiles for the new deVOL showroom in London, and designing porcelain light shades too.
In my final year of 3D Design, I was working on a project that focused on functional kitchenware exploring simple utilitarian forms and using coloured clays I had mixed by hand. I decided to begin documenting my progress through my final year and so started an Instagram account for my ceramic work.
Around Christmas, a friend from Loughborough University kindly showed some of these images to her boss (Paul O’Leary, director of deVOL) who gave me a call, I went to the Cotes Mill showroom in Loughborough the following week for an interview and he offered me a graduate job! It was so overwhelming to have been offered a job before I’d even finished my first project, and it really gave me a sense of security going into the final term working towards my Degree Show.
Securing a graduate job had a big impact upon your final year project – how did this change your work?
I spent the next 3 months working with deVOL on my final project, creating a collection of kitchenware that reflected the simplistic style and bespoke design of deVOL and their kitchens.
I started my job a week after graduating, so the transition was pretty quick and fortunately very smooth. I'm really enjoying working life, although still living in Loughborough does make me miss the student life sometimes!
deVOL employs a number of Loughborough graduates from lots of different subject areas, making it a really exciting and energetic company to work in.
How did you feel when you were awarded First Prize for Enterprise and Innovation at The School of the Arts Degree Show?
I was absolutely over the moon to win first prize at the Degree Show, it came as a complete shock! The Degree Show was such a rewarding experience for not only myself, but the entire 3D Design course as we received lots of positive feedback and praise from visitors for the quality of our work. So to be awarded a prize on top of that experience was amazing.
Exhibiting at New Designers in London last July must have been a great experience; did you expect to win an award there?
To be honest, initially I didn't even know there were prizes to win at New Designers, so to find out I'd been shortlisted and then awarded New Designer of the Year Runner Up I was blown away and speechless! The sheer scale of New Designers is absolutely huge, with around 1800 exhibitors under one roof, so for my work to be recognised by established designers from various industries out of everything on display there was incredible and a very proud moment for me. There was a vast array of work from textiles, jewellery and contemporary craft and design on display from some of the best universities and art schools in the country, so to be awarded this prize reflects the quality of teaching and facilities I had access to at Loughborough School of the Arts.
I’m really enjoying working at deVOL, it’s fantastic to be working in such a creative and exciting place and I feel incredibly lucky to be doing what I love for a living.