Lucie Davis, 2016

For the last ten years, the MullenLowe NOVA Awards have given the graduating artists, designers and innovators from Central Saint Martins a platform for recognition. Now a special exhibition, as part of the London Design Festival, will focus on how some of the winning designers have progressed since.

NOVA X will be held at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, from Saturday 18 September to Saturday 23 October, and online here. The exhibition will revolve around past winners of the MullenLowe NOVA Awards and reveal how they’ve propelled their careers beyond university.

And the work on show is not just finished pieces. The inclusion of early concepts, research, sketchbooks, tools, and process means that visitors will be able to see how each project and practice came to fruition and discover stories of transformation, exploration, interrogation, production, and tenacity along the way.

Opening times for the exhibition are as follows:

Sat 18, Sun 19, Mon 20 Sep 11:00-18:00
Tue 21 Sept 11:00-17:30
Wed 22 Sept 11:00-21:00
Thurs 23 to Sun 26 Sept 11:00-18:00
Tue 28 Sept to Sun 23 Oct 11:00-18:00 (Tue to Fri); 12:00-17:00 (Sat)

Maria Gasparian, 2016

Maria Gasparian, 2016

“At the heart of the MullenLowe NOVA Awards is our desire to give students a platform for recognition as they extend their thinking beyond the educational environment,” says Jose Miguel Sokoloff, global president of the MullenLowe Group Creative Council.

“We’re delighted to partner with Central Saint Martins to present ‘NOVA X’, to celebrate exactly that, and once again focus the attention of the creative community onto some of the most outstanding emerging talents,” he continues. “I’m excited to see what past winners have been up to since graduating and view these newly commissioned pieces of work, to once again shine a light on the artistry, ingenuity and excellence of these brilliant minds.”

Professor Jeremy Till, head of Central Saint Martins, UAL, adds: “Over the last ten years, the MullenLowe NOVA Awards have been a marker of the prevailing preoccupations, priorities and values of our community. The exhibition is a great opportunity to see how the practices, ideas, and careers of these artists, designers and performers have evolved as they make their way in the Central Saint Martins global creative network.”

Lucie Davis, 2016

Tina Gorjanc, 2016

Out of the 1,300 graduating students who entered this year’s MullenLowe NOVA Awards, 49 were nominated, and just six awards were presented. The winners were announced in an online ceremony on Wednesday 18 August. This year saw the debut of the Creative Boom Conscious Award, sponsored by this very site, and you can read our interview with the 2021 winner here.

Meanwhile, read on to hear from some of the past winners of the MullenLowe NOVA Awards and how entering the competition has helped boost their careers.

“The MullenLowe NOVA Awards were a fantastic accolade and platform for my work,” says Hannah Scott, 2017 MullenLowe NOVA Award Runner Up. “It was amazing to have the work recognised and to receive financial support at a critical time transitioning from the academic environment.

“Winning gave me extra confidence and enabled me to take a leap of faith in my creative practice by participating in The Arctic Circle artist residency. This, in turn, helped to transform my practice from studio/object-based to become more nomadic, ephemeral, and performative.”

Hannah Scott, 2017

Cybi Williams, 2018

“Winning a MullenLowe NOVA Award reaffirmed the importance of my work and encouraged me to continue to my pursuit of telling stories celebrating the existence of Black people in Britain,” says Jahnavi Inniss, 2020 Unilever #Unstereotype Award Winner. “As a result of winning, I took some personal time to reflect on my practice and really identify what is it that I want to achieve in the work that I do to make it not only meaningful but relevant also.”

“Winning the 2017 MullenLowe NOVA award is my greatest achievement to this day,” says Hana Fujimoto, 2017 MullenLowe NOVA Award Winner. “Being mixed race and living dual lives, I have struggled with my identity and confidence throughout my upbringing. The Award gave me the financial freedom to continue my practice as an independent artist.

“Working commercially never resonated with me, and had it not been for the prize money, I may not have had the opportunity to rent studio spaces and continue my work. Having the time to develop and explore my practice led to subsequent opportunities, collaborations, and commissions which I am incredibly grateful for.”

“Winning the Unilever Sustainability Award gave me confidence about the value of my work,” says Maria Gasparian, 2016 Unilever Sustainability Award Winner. “It also promoted my practice through publicity, helping me reach a wider community beyond the university degree show.”

Xiaoying Liang, 2019

Jahnavi Inniss, 2020

Sandra Poulson, 2020

Creative Boom