Student joins mentorship programme to design sustainable furniture

Em Lemaitre-Downton at a champagne reception celebrating the programme

Article by: David Millett

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Our BA (Hons) Product Design student Emilie-Gabrielle Lemaitre-Downton was selected to take part in a Makers & Mentors Design mentorship to create a design that ‘cultivates connection’ in a post-pandemic office building.

The Makers & Mentors programme was created to challenge young designers to create bespoke sustainable furniture. It is run by the social enterprise Power Out of Restriction (POoR) Collective and workspace provider The Office Group (TOG).

The six-week mentorship programme gave emerging designers the experience of a live client project. They were tasked to create furniture for The Black & White Building, a sustainable office space in central London – and the city’s tallest mass-timber commercial structure.

Em was chosen as one of three students on the coveted programme, selected out of second- and third-year design students from the whole of the UK.

Each of the three were paired with a London-based designer to develop furniture and artwork for a permanent installation in the building. Their design had to have an emphasis on sustainable materials and social connectivity.

Em's design

One of the side tables designed by Em Lemaitre-Downton

Em quote

Em was mentored by Andu Masebo, a trailblazing ceramics, carpentry, and metalwork specialist. She was also provided with a £1,000 stipend and materials.

Throughout the programme, she designed a family of coffee tables using interlocking planks of wood. Although each table in the three-piece set is unique, they pull together to form a cohesive look thanks to their striking design and uniform height.

“I have learnt that it is incredibly valuable to understand the nature of the material you are working with,” she said, in a presentation of her work.

“I decided to make a series of side tables with the intention of being material conscious. It is constructed with traditional joinery techniques, featuring the patterns and geometries they create.”

Charlie Green, co-founder of TOG, said: “The Makers & Mentors programme gives us an opportunity to recognise and support the talents of tomorrow and to weave their work into the fabric of one of our most important buildings to date.”

Shawn Adams, founding partner of POoR Collective, added: "Working with TOG, we hope to kickstart the careers of emerging talent."

Em has previously won a silver award at the Starpack Students competition for a packaging solution she created for Smirnoff vodka. We look forward to seeing what comes from her next!

table 2

A close up showing the joint detailing of a side table by Em Lemaitre-Downton