Metropolitan Works Creative Industries Centre, part of London Metropolitan University, is an internationally recognised centre of excellence for design and production committed to promoting London as a global centre for design innovation.
Located within the University’s Sir John Cass Department of Art Media and Design, Metropolitan Works has coordinated the support it offers the capital’s creative practitioners and manufacturers through a range of imaginative initiatives and affiliations. The centre incorporates Furniture Works, Gold Works, the Digital Manufacturing Centre, Design Nation, and Exchange, London’s Creative Knowledge Exchange (a ground-breaking collaborative partnership between the University of the Arts, London, Goldsmiths College and the Royal College of Art).
This world-class combination is designed to assist London’s creative businesses to increase innovation in products, processes and services and to better understand issues of sustainability, eco-design, and getting products to market.
Situated in Whitechapel, at the heart of London’s creative community, Metropolitan Works supports the widest range of London’s creative businesses with design, business and technical advice as well as through access to state-of-the-art digital technology for prototyping, manufacture, research and experimentation. It is a unique centre that also provides researchers, designers, businesses and manufacturers with extensive networking opportunities and knowledge transfer through an annual programme of courses, conferences and exhibitions.
From the outset we recognised the valuable support already offered to London’s creative practitioners and manufacturers by a number of organisations and insititutions, most notably Hidden Art and Design-Nation, and we were determined to work in partnership with all of them to ensure a coherent and complementary range of support for London’s creative industries.
In 2004 and 2005 we hosted the Hidden Art Annual Forum and in 2006 as part of the London Design Festival we collaborated with both Hidden Art and Design-Nation in a Best Practice Forum for Designers at Bloomberg’s, at which the keynote speaker was Sir George Cox, Chairman of the Design Council. We were delighted to receive the 2005 Hidden Art Award for most Active Associate Member.
Part funded by the London Development Agency (LDA) and launched in January 2003 as Furniture Works with Making It,an inaugral exhibition of alumni work that included internationally renowned designers Terence Woodgate, Michael Marriot, Duncan Jackson and Floris van den Broeke, the Centre quickly expanded to extend its services across the creative industries.
The launch was featured on BBC Newsnight and the Centre has gone on to receive an exceptional range of the highest quality press coverage for its many and varied activities and exhibitions. In 2005 Furniture Works was cited as an exemplar of good practice in the Treasury commissioned Cox Review on Creativity in Business.
In 2004 Furniture Works initiated Project Innovate as part of its commitment to encouraging collaboration between contemporary designers and traditional manufacturers. This highly acclaimed project quickly developed into the award winning Isos Collection – a new high quality furniture brand that combines UK craftsmanship with the best in British design – that has been exhibited at the Milan Furniture Fair, the Furniture Show NEC Birmingham and Pulse at Earls Court.
In 2005 Design Nation agreed to form a partnership with and relocate to Metropolitan Works to complement the commitment each has to bridging the gap between UK designers and manufacturers. Design-Nation is a membership organisation of 130 designers selected by an independent panel of industry professionals. Membership gives these designers access to major exhibitions, such as 100% Design, and its own highly successful annual retail exhibition, Eureka, and networking events with industry professionals such as buyers, retailers and manufacturers. This important partnership strengthens a virtuous circle of support for London’s creative practitioners from design to production to market.
With the launch of the Digital Manufacturing Centre in 2005 Metropolitan Works was able to further enhance the technological support already on offer by making available to creative practitioners an impressive array of formerly inaccessible digital technology unequalled in the country.
A number of events and exhibitions were designed to promote these resources: in 2005 a series of four digital dialogues were held with speakers including Sir Terence Conran, George Kessler, Ron Arad and Sir Roderick Floud; in 2006 Metropolitan Works presented Design Tools, a series of talks by internationally renowned designers on applications of digital technology as part of Coect, the Crafts Council’s international art fair for contemporary objects at the V&A; also in 2006 the first Digital Explorers exhibition Gravity and Glow featured digitally produced new work by Cass research fellows Tomoko Azumi and Assa Ashuach; in 2007 Digital Explorers II featured the work of the 3D Digital Production Research Cluster at University College Falmouth supported by a series of five evening lectures attended by over 400 participants.
In 2006 Metropolitan Works’ world-class Digital Manufacturing Centre, and experience in marrying creativity with new technologies to generate efficiencies in design development, proptotyping, and production, enabled it to secure for Furniture Works the two year funded LDA Manufacturing Sub Sector Support Programme in collaboration with the City Fringe Partnership. This was followed immediately with similar success in securing for Gold Works the two year City Fringe Partnership Jewellery Sector Investment Plan in collaboration with Holts Jewellery School and the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre at University Central England.
Through these two latest initiatives Metropolitan Works further enhances its now well established contribution towards achieving the shared objectives of the University, the LDA and the City Fringe Partnership to make London a sustainable world city with strong, long-term economic growth, social inclusion and active environmental improvement.
We are grateful to our many funders for their support over these first four exciting and eventful years.