Designer Haidée Drew worked with Year 5 pupils and Art Leader Kerri Sellens at Lansbury Lawrence Primary School to design, make and sell a series of objects inspired by the school’s history, furnishings, colours and architecture.
The project began with a research element in which pupils delved in to their school’s incredible history and its significance as part of the Lansbury Estate built for the Live Architecture Exhibition in the 1951 Festival of Britain.
After obtaining archive materials they gathered their own research through photographs and sketches of the school building. Haidée then worked with the pupils to create silicone moulds of their designs which were cast using jesmonite and made into a range of saleable products.
The children were exposed to a new way of working, and learned about art and design as a career.
One of the aims of the project was to develop pupils’ understanding about the process of designing, making and bringing a product to market. This got off to a great start as Haidée explains: “Kerri really knew what to ask for in order to tease out new ideas, and gave me the platform to try new ways of working with the students.”
Kerri was also pleased with how the project started and said “As an established designer, Haidée understood the brief immediately and the project developed both naturally and magically as it progressed.”
It brought a different way of viewing the school and an understanding of how inspiration can be drawn from its architecture and its historical importance.
The benefits of the collaboration were clearly as valuable for the artist as they were for the school. Haidée said “I feel like this collaboration was a real journey for me as an educator but also as a designer”. Kerri described the residency as a “wonderful experience” and said that “the children were exposed to a new way of working, and learned about art and design as a career.”
As Designer in Residence, Haidée was inspired by the stunning design of the school. “It brought a different way of viewing the school and an understanding of how inspiration can be drawn from its architecture and its historical importance.”
While Kerri provided “the belief, encouragement and enthusiasm to help enable our children to engage and get the most from the project.”
Kerri and Haidée contributed different qualities to the relationship and clearly learned a lot from each other. It was a combination of Kerri’s “incredibly calm and positive nature” and Haidée’s ability as a “natural communicator” which made the project run so smoothly.
As the project came to a close, Haidée describes the biggest achievement. “Some of the students showed up to the 'Urban Makers East' market to personally sell the class's work. It was so wonderful to see the public interact with them, to see their pride and the ultimate actually selling the work!”. Kerri agreed that “the real achievement is in the final finished products. The range was named ‘Lansbury Presents’, and Haidée helped the children to sell them at an actual market.”
I really haven’t seen such sophisticated design work in a primary school before.
The beautiful results of the project were partly due to Haidée’s “absolute perfectionism” when it came to making which Kerri also picked up on and told us “Haidée does have very high production standards!”
The level of perfection was clearly worth it as Kerri commented that “I really haven’t seen such sophisticated design work in a primary school before” and Haidée agreed that “the student's understood the benefits that come with attention to detail, especially after we nearly sold out of their objects and jewellery at the Christmas sale.”
Despite the project finishing, this Dream Team continue to work together, as Kerri is pleased to announce, “Haidée is now working on a design commission for our school, which I know is going to be beautiful and treasured by us for years to come.”
This project took place as part of the Poplar Consortium and a selection of the objects produced will be on display at the Poplar Celebration event at Spotlight on 24th March.