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LCF x Smythson: BA (Hons) Cordwainers students design range

Smythson logo on wall
  • Written byJ Tilley
  • Published date29 April 2022
Smythson logo on wall
LCF x Smythson 2022 - Photography by Eilwen Jones

On Thursday 28 April, we joined in celebration for the unveiling of the final project outcomes of BA (Hons) Cordwainers Fashion Bags and Accessories: Product Design and Innovation students project in collaboration with Smythson - a luxury leather goods and stationery brand, first established on London’s New Bond Street in 1887. The evening was filled with students and industry guests, all joining at Smythson's Sloane Street store.

For this exclusive brief, students were tasked with designing a range of accessories including 6-8 handbags and/or relevant accessories, a charm and correspondence card within the world of Smythson. The close the project, students re-imagined traditional stationery through their own lens, with the designs then carefully judged and the top design was then made by Smythson. The overall winner of the LCF x Smythson project was Man Fong Bertha Ko. The Best Sketchbook award went to Runjia Li and both Caleb Bell and Misra Artkiy were awarded Highly Commended for their impressive approach to the brief.

“Working with Smythson’s rich history, exquisite manufacture and contemporary expertise has been a wonderful opportunity for our second year BA (Hons) Cordwainers Fashion Bags and Accessories students, to apply their creativity to a live brief which replicates real world scenarios. It is a wonderful example of how integral industry collaborations are to the experience of studying at London College of Fashion, UAL and on our world leading craft based courses.” Rob Philips, Creative Director, London College of Fashion, UAL

Envelopes, bags and leather goods laid on a table
LCF x Smythson 2022 - Photography by Eilwen Jone
Man holding red leather bag
LCF x Smythson 2022 - Photography by Eilwen Jone

LCF x Smythson Overall Winner

Congratulations on being crowned overall winner of the LCF x Smythson project! 

Bertha: Thank you. I am very honoured that my work was selected as the overall winner. Given that my work is not overly ‘practical’, I am very glad that the judges appreciated the idea and concept. We all spent a lot of time on this project and I hope my classmates’ work will also be shared far and wide as they are very amazing. I would like to express my deep gratitude to our tutors and technicians on behalf of our class, as nothing would have worked without them. Our tutors have always been very encouraging and having high expectations of us really motivated us to work harder. I would say the Golden Lane accessories technician teams are probably be the best team ever, they are incredibly kind, helpful and cheerful, and I feel like I’m at home when working at the studio. Last but not least, I would also like to thank Smythson for providing us with the sketchbook and leather for our final project. Presenting to professional designers in the industry was a very exciting experience!

Tell us about your winning idea...

Bertha: I made a foldable clutch bag and it was inspired by the feature and the function of an ancient paper love token. The bag can be fully opened and transformed from the bag when folded to an artwork when flat. The silk lining is printed with illustrations of London architecture, giving a nostalgic notion whilst the owner travels from place to place. It is also presented with an animation that can explain the complete story of the bag and the notion of “waiting for something that you might never know the answer”.

I started creating an animation for my product in my first year and I thought I would continue doing this if I have the chance. I believe that my works are not only about the design and the function, but most importantly, the story behind it. I am very proud of the idea and story I came up with for this project. I will continue doing this in my future projects.

Sewing machine with fabric
LCF x Smythson 2022: Man Fong Bertha Ko
What particular aspects do you like about Smythson?

Bertha: The world of Smythson is well known for luxurious, functional, and high-quality craftsmanship. I was first drawn to a quote I saw on Smythson’s website “between the lines of every Smythson diary lies the story of a life”, and the blog teaching how to write a love letter. I found the quote very romantic and decided to create a love story for my new project. I like how Smythson is very classic and always comes with a story.

Why did you decide to choose the BA (Hons) Cordwainers Fashion Bags and Accessories course at LCF?

Bertha: I was a second year fine art student in Gold and Silversmithing at another university in Australia before I started studying at LCF. I was already very interested in Fashion jewellery and showpieces and decided to quit my last degree and continue my study in the UK as I wanted to give myself a chance to try other things. One of my close friends from home told me about this course as she is also a student at LCF doing a textile degree.

Although the course is focused on bag design and making, I am very grateful that it has allowed me enough freedom to go wild and learn more. Not to mention I am studying with the best classmates ever, they are amazing. I can’t be more thankful for having all of these in this course.

Man Fong Bertha Ko

LCF x Smythson overall winning project

LCF x Smythson Best Sketchbook Award

Congratulations on winning the award for Best Sketchbook! How does it feel?

Runjia: I was very happy and surprised to win the award for the best sketchbook - I think it was a combination of hard work and luck. Everyone was so good and worked so hard. It was a pleasure working with Smythson and I learnt a lot from their advice and guidance.

What did you find challenging about this project?

Runjia: This was the first time we had been involved in a collaborative project in this way and we needed to be realistic about the brand's style and consumer base - as a young design student, I wanted my designs to be fresh and original and not necessarily follow Smythson's original style. During the project, I had two designs that I liked as much as the final design and I was torn between them. In the future, I hope I can be more determined and not hesitate too much. All in all, the overall challenge was exciting and brought pressure and inspiration to everyone.

What particular aspects do you like about Smythson?

Runjia: I didn't know much about the Smythson brand at first but through the introduction of the Smythson team and research, I felt that it is a brand with a long history, an elegant and modern design style, and a very functional product. Their target consumers are very clear and from the various functions of the product design, I could feel that they have a deep understanding of the needs of consumers. We worked with the Smythson team, who helped us a lot in this project by telling the brand story at the beginning and bringing in a lot of classic products, which helped us to understand the brand better. They also provided a lot of advice during the process afterwards, which was very helpful for me.

sketchbooks
LCF x Smythson 2022 - Photography by Eilwen Jones