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Top Drawer 2022: Design trade show

The UAL stand at Top Drawer
The UAL stand at Top Drawer

Written by
Careers and Employability
Published date
10 March 2022

Top Drawer is the UK’s leading design-led trade show which united brands and buyers over 3 days of exhibitions, seminars, talks and product demonstrations.

Careers and Employability organise a stand each year at Top Drawer to showcase emerging creative graduate businesses from University of the Arts London. This year we featured a diverse range of businesses, selected based on their creativity, ethics, and commercial viability, many of whom had never exhibited at a trade show before. Products range from interior and homeware products to fashion accessories, cosmetics, prints and stationery.

Several UAL graduates also had their products featured on the new Top Drawer Launchpad area. The edit was created to introduce the newest market-ready designs from the freshest new talent.

We went to visit the UAL stand at Top Drawer to meet the graduates who were featured this year. Here’s what they had to say:

Paige Eden

Paige Eden is a freelance designer specialising in print design.

After graduating from Chelsea College of Arts, Paige began to create thought-provoking work that questions our relationship with vision. As a visually impaired designer, Paige has incorporated her lived experience of sensory barriers into her designs. Bold and colourful works play with the spectrum of the obscured, distorted, and surreal.

With the intention to expand her work into tactile creations, Paige wants to continue to question and disrupt the sight-orientated way in which audiences interact with art and design.

“I graduated in 2020, so it was a funny time, and I just kind of went into full time work, so a lot of my time went on that. I wasn’t particularly looking for anything to do with my own work, but the opportunity for Top Drawer came to me, and I thought ‘I can’t miss out on this, I’ve got to take it.”

Nice and Graphic

Nice & Graphic is an upcoming business that presents bold and beautiful letterpress prints, stationery and greeting cards with positive and uplifting messaging.  Handmade in South London by a small team and founded by New York born graphic designer Michelle Dwyer, Nice & Graphic uses traditional letterpress printing methods in an exciting new way and is passionate about keeping the beautiful craft alive.  Nice & Graphic has been featured on Business Insider and has appeared in exhibitions around London.

“Top drawer has been super helpful launching my small business, I’ve had the opportunity to meet lots of new retailers over the course of three days all in one place, and it’s a good networking opportunity and it’s been good to show off my range of products and get initial feedback”

Studio Mito stands in front of her stand at Top Drawer

Studio Mito

Weaver Millie Thomas’ design studio ‘Studio Mito’ is a one-stop shop for all things woven, specialising in silk jacquard fabrics - blending unique colour palettes with bold patterns. The Central St Martins Graduate believes that weaving is an important way to keep craft alive, consciously making and sustainably producing.

Studio Mito was established in 2020 and is currently based in Cockpit Art Studios in Deptford, London. All of the fabrics are designed in London and woven in the UK - in addition to the brand’s soft furnishing products, the full collection is available to order by the metre.

“You never know where a conversation is going to lead to, so it’s been really good, it’s also the first time I’ve shown a lot of my products in real life, so it’s been really nice to see people’s reactions, especially with fabrics seeing how people react to different colours and that sort of thing.”

Unum studio hold a large bag displaying their collection at Top Drawer

UNUM Studio

UNUM Studio is a sustainable fashion accessories brand focusing on quality craftsmanship and contemporary design.

UNUM aspires to contribute to the sustainable fashion and textiles industry and circular economy through; upcycling, use of sustainable materials, minimising waste, recycling and raising awareness.

Product lines include tote bags, shoulder bags and limited edition collections created by repurposed material with original prints that give them a unique value.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to be exhibited here, because we haven’t tried it before – this is our first time facing a lot of clients and the market.”

Blackmarket refill stand at Top Drawer


Blackmarket is an innovative and award-winning home refillable liquid handwash, without single-use plastic packaging. The waterless soap concentrate is packaged in a safe material that dissolves in contact with warm water, becoming part of the product, acting as a thickener. Because our refills are waterless, they weigh 95% less than other brands, reducing carbon emissions from transport. Why ship water when you have it at home? Exactly! Blackmarket’s first product is a hand wash, which is available in 2 fragrances and 2 different pack sizes. Many more exciting products are already in development.

“The level of support UAL gives to the graduate is phenomenal”

Studio Ess stands in front of her stand at Top Drawer

Studio Ess

Studio Ess is a one-woman design studio based in the heart of Kent, creating fun and cute paper goods. Using themes such as food, animals, quirky and everyday objects, the illustrations aim to visually communicate the humour of everyday life.

Using ethically sourced materials, Studio Ess has adopted the use of card clasps and paper sleeves, minimising the use of plastic, and therefore ensuring a sustainable approach to production and business.

Currently, Studio Ess is stationery focused however future collections plan to venture into the homeware sector.

“The careers service has been good, better than my BA, there’s a lot more support. It’s helpful to attend Top Drawer as a steppingstone and to test trade shows to see whether it’s worth me coming back.”

To find out more about Top Drawer and when the next opportunity to feature on a stand will be, check out the Top Drawer page and follow our Instagram.