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Kingston's design credentials 'blindingly' obvious in Milan

Posted Wednesday 7 April 2010

Kontuur Blind was created by Kingston graduate Helena Karelson.Graduates from Kingston University will be showcasing their creations alongside some of the biggest names in the furniture industry at a prestigious exhibition in Milan next week. Eight students who graduated from the University's Product and Furniture Design degree in 2009 will be displaying the products they made in the final year of their course at the Salone Satellite exhibition, which forms part of one of the largest international design trade fairs - the Salone Internazionale del Mobile.

Furniture designers and manufacturers from around the world travel to the event in Italy to show their work to around 300,000 visitors. As one of only two British universities asked to attend, the invitation is testament to Kingston's growing reputation for design.

A three-dimensional blind which casts shafts of light around the room in unusual patterns is one of the products the Kingston alumni are hoping will catch the attention of the top brass in the furniture design world. The Kontuur Blind is the brainchild of Estonian-born Helena Karelson, created when she spotted a gap in the market for a new and different type of window-covering. "I saw the opportunity to create something interesting and beautiful," she said. "The Kontuur Blind collection is a new interpretation of the traditional Venetian blind. The classical Venetian blind slats are always straight. Kontuur Blind's slats are curvaceous so that when they are open, they provide a decorative three-dimensional effect and create an unusual filtering of light."

The Kontuur blind has already won two awards. Helena explained that the Kontuur Blind collection had been inspired by her fascination with light, and the relationship between form and shadow. The unusual shape of the wooden slats - undulating curves which stand proud of the window when they are open - had attracted a lot of attention. "I have shown the blinds at exhibitions already and I've been excited by how people have reacted to them," she said. "They bring a smile to people's faces - they immediately want to touch them and interact with them."

Helena has already won two awards for her product, the D&AD New Blood Award and the New Design Britain Award. She will be attending the event in Milan to help out at the University's exhibition space, and is eager to see whether her blinds can win the attention of one of the industry's big players.

Peter Christian from the University's Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture has exhibited at the Salone Satellite himself and believes that taking their work to Milan is a fantastic opportunity for the graduates to attract industry interest in their designs. "Exhibiting their products at the Salone Satellite offers these students a great opportunity to engage with industry figures and make some important contacts," Mr Christian, whose role is to develop research and enterprise links for the faculty, said. "To show their furniture in the same context as some of the biggest brands in design is a real recognition of their talent. It's also an acknowledgement of the standard of design courses at Kingston, which is good news for all our current and future students."

Along with the Kontuur Blind, products created by seven of Helena's fellow graduates will be exhibited at the event, which opens on Wednesday April 14 for five days. "I'm really proud of all the work that Kingston is exhibiting," she said. "It would be fantastic if any of our furniture caught the eye of a manufacturer or designer."

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