Integrated Design student’s bright idea earns Best Student Product Design in New York

Convocation day was extra sweet for Integrated Design graduate Kelly Van Raay. In addition to receiving her diploma and Ceramics certificate from the Haliburton School of Art + Design, Kelly crossed the convocation stage with an award from [Wanted Design] Brooklyn.

Kelly earned Best Student Product Design for her Lump Lights featured in the Human/Nature: Meditations on Material Culture exhibition. The exhibition, curated by Integrated Design program coordinator Barr Gilmore, displayed in New York at [Wanted Design] Brooklyn during NYCxDesign last month.

“I’m very honoured to have received an award,” said Kelly, who is one of 12 winners out of 150 nominations. “It was exciting. I’ve never won anything in my life before!”

Not only is this Kelly’s first award, the experience is also Kelly’s first time in New York. She travelled to Brooklyn with classmates Christina Dedes and Kelsey Redman, and Integrated Design program coordinator Barr Gilmore for the event.

“It was exciting! I’ve never been to New York before,” she said. “It was crazy to see my work amongst everyone else’s. There were some really prestigious schools there, like the Pratt Institute and Rhode Island School of Design. Being there, I felt like a part of the design community on a world stage. And I’m really happy people enjoy my weird art!”

Kelly, who earned the Ceramics certificate within the Integrated Design diploma program, was asked by program coordinator Barr Gilmore to produce work for the Human/Nature: Meditations on Material Culture exhibition. Kelly coil-built and textured the Lump Lamps by hand, which she then bisque fired, glazed, and then glaze fired.

Patience is a virtue, she learned, as the process is slow and tedious.

“I had to not work too fast, so they take me a couple months to do. I had them done a week before New York,” she said. “I take my time with it. When hand building with wet clay, it’ll slump if you’re working too fast and the piece will crack if you’re drying it too fast, so I have to work slowly.”

After months of hard work leading up to [Wanted Design] Brooklyn, followed by an amazing visit to New York to see her work on display, Kelly is honoured to receive the Best Student Product Design award. Unfortunately she had already left New York before the awards (Barr accepted it on Kelly’s behalf), but was happy to be presented with it on stage at the Haliburton School of Art + Design convocation ceremony.

Kelly said she enjoyed her time at Fleming’s Haliburton Campus, especially the small campus environment and class sizes.

“I had freedom to be creative with my process. It was a very encouraging environment; if I had an idea, I could talk to my instructors or classmates about it,” said Kelly. “It’s always a good environment when you’re surrounded by people making.”

Kelly came to Fleming College after earning her diploma in Theatre Arts – Technical Production from Fanshawe College, where she developed an interest in prop making.

“I thought the Integrated Design program was good for getting more experience related to prop making because it gives you an introductory to many art practices, approaching each practice with good design in mind” said Kelly, who worked in the theatre and entertainment industry in London, Ont., briefly before starting Fleming College. “My Props teacher told me that the most important thing I could do for my career [in prop making] is to go to art school and learn to draw—which, I’ve never had a teacher say ‘go to art school for your career’ before!”

Last month, she graduated from the Integrated Design diploma and Ceramics certificate from the Haliburton School of Art + Design, and is now working as a Studio Technician at a pottery studio in London. Kelly said her experience in the program, as well as at [Wanted Design] Brooklyn, helped shape her as a designer and human by reminding her that practice makes perfect.

 “You’re going to mess up, but that’s okay because you’ll learn for next time,” said Kelly. “I’m at the beginning of my journey, but I learned that I should stick with my gut of what I think is good design, because it’s obviously working.”