Fall 2022 will see the opening of the new Ad Gefrin Visitor Experience and Whiskey Distillery in Wooler, Northumberland, and the Rural Design Center Innovation Project (RDCIP) has worked with them to help find local designers to put showcasing the creativity of Northumbrian.
The Ad Gefrin Design Challenge was an opportunity for Northumberland-based artists and creatives to work with RDCIP through a series of workshops to develop product ideas before submitting their proposal to representatives of Ad Gefrin for the purpose of securing a contract / commission to provide their Visitor Experience Shop.
Three workshops, moderated by Nick Devitt: Senior Design Associate for RDCIP, Dan Newton and Chris Taylor, focused on the idea generation process, testing different concepts and then developing those concepts to create their product (s) ( s) proposed.
Nick explained, “The Ad Gefrin Design Challenge showcases Northumberland and the rich culture here, drawing on that culture as inspiration to create something beautiful and meaningful. The workshops were a way to convey this to those involved and each session was full of energy. We saw such incredible craftsmanship, design thinking and talent during each of the workshops and I couldn’t wait to see the work that would be submitted for this challenge and was blown away by what I ‘have seen.
After receiving 15 high-quality submissions, the Ad Gefrin panel has drawn up a shortlist of six local small businesses, but they hope those that are not shortlisted will continue to grow and find outlets for their amazing products. They have chosen :
- Ravn clay, a traditional pinch, coil and slab work pottery, based just north of Wooler, for the concept of a traditionally made water jug.
- Bite Arts are on the shortlist for their proposal of willow carvings and intricate handmade baskets.
- Joseph hillier, sculptor chose to focus on ancient materials and manufacturing methods to create both modern and traditional jewelry.
- Using yarns made from their own Angora goat and Wensleydale sheep, Without whistle are preselected for their proposition to use these yarns to create custom-made rugs.
- Sandra Russell Productions offering original artwork within shadowboxes earned Sandra a spot on the shortlist.
- Finally, Be therapies submitted their concept of works of art made from pigments of the Northumbrian landscape.
The goal of the Design Challenge was to work with Ad Gefrin to really showcase some of the best products Northumberland has to offer in terms of design and product. What the RDCIPs have been able to do is involve and support these suppliers throughout the design process, from concept to prototype, so that they are in the best position to put forward their ideas.
Eileen Ferguson, Ad Gefrin’s partner with her husband, Alan, said: “We are truly grateful to everyone who took up the challenge and we hope everyone who participated benefited from the support provided. I’m proud to be from Northumberland and the level and quality of work I’ve seen on this design challenge is so impressive. Very inspiring people who do very inspiring contemporary work. People from all over the world will be coming to visit Ad Gefrin and we want them to see for themselves what makes Northumberland so special. We take our inspiration from Northumbria’s heyday and wish to continue the tradition of hospitality, welcome and warmth for which Northumbrians are known. For our visitors, being able to buy something that has been lovingly made by a local artist is truly amazing and something that will remind them of their visit for years to come.
Shortlisted companies are now invited to attend the final pitch event on the 12the January 2022, where they will lay out their ideas and concepts in more detail and demonstrate prototypes, if any, after which the jury will make their final decisions and the winner (s) will be announced.
The Rural Design Center Innovation Project, funded in part by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and in part by the North of Tyne Combined Authority, provides support to SMEs in the North Tyne region. Support is fully funded and they also offer matching grants to eligible businesses. To learn more about the work they do, visit; www.rural-innovation.co.uk
If you would like to learn more about Ad Gefrin, please visit; adgefrin.fr