AF 2020 Social Innovation in Materials Design Fellow Bethany Williams shares her year

This past twelve months of my Arts Foundation Fellowship year has been an extraordinary one – between expanding my brand, building on my portfolio and responding to the current crisis, I have been extremely busy!

One of my most satisfying projects this year has been working with the Emergency Designer Network, an initiative I established with Holly Fulton, Cozette McCreery and Phoebe English united to galvanise local production to support hospital stocks of key garments such as scrubs. This is vital armour in the fight against COVID-19. Chris Evans recently donated funds to support our collective, comprised of an initial group of 10 small-scale UK manufacturers and designers. This December we were delighted to win the Community Honoree award at the Fashion Awards. EDN is still looking for experienced seamstresses who can support our endeavour!

Another major project for me this summer, was my commissioned programme at Somerset House, All Our Children, in which I invited audiences to reflect on our future generations and consider what wisdom and legacy we’d collectively like to pass on to those who come long after us. Through this I launched a collaborative capsule collection, and raised a flag over Somerset House made in collaboration with the Magpie Project.

My work has become more widely exhibited this year. The V&A Museum of Childhood have taken on a collection of my work for display in the museum, and I am preparing for a cabinet display at Design Museum London, due to go on display this coming July. My furniture sculpture for the new sustainable Adidas store on Carnaby Street was launched in October, and will be remain in place for the coming three years.

Another achievement being a finalist for the Woolmark Prize, who are supporting me in the development of a wool collection to be launched in 2021. I have had the pleasure of hiring a full time colleague working with me, and I have now moved into Poplar Works  offices. We have also increased our stockists and have launched a capsule collection with Selfridges. Finally, as enquiries about internships have become a daily occurrence, I have started mentoring younger designers. Every last Friday of the month, instead of unpaid internships I offer tutorials and advice to the students and young professionals who approach me.