Design Museum showcases staff and student work supporting the NHS in the pandemic

22 February 2022

A new exhibition at the Design Museum, London is showcasing work made during the coronavirus pandemic by Leeds Arts University BA (Hons) Fashion Design staff and students.

In March 2020 staff and students responded to a call out for people with sewing skills from The Emergency Designer Network. The Emergency Designer Network was set up by London-based designers Holly Fulton, Bethany Williams and Phoebe English. This volunteer-led enterprise galvanised local production to support hospital stocks of key garments such as scrubs in the fight against COVID-19.

The exhibition, Bethany Williams: Alternative Systems, features images of scrubs made by Andrew Bannister-Bailey, Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Fashion and 2020 graduate Gracie D'Silva.

Image: Gracie D'Silva, BA (Hons) Fashion graduate, making scrubs for NHS workers as part of the Emergency Designer Network scheme.

Andrew Bannister-Bailey made scrubs from home during the pandemic and co-ordinated the call out to Leeds Arts University students to help.
Andrew said:

“I was made aware of the Emergency Designer Network’s initiative through their call out on Instagram asking for help producing scrubs at the start of first lockdown in the Spring of 2020. I wanted to do my bit in helping out with the pandemic struggle and use my sewing skills to some effect whilst stuck in doors at home.

I contacted Cozette McCreery and Phoebe English, both close industry contacts, to offer my assistance and also put the call out to staff and students who may have also wanted to help out. I have a fully equipped sewing studio at home, so really a work place from work! I made approx. 60 scrubs in total, which were quite a challenge to construct and took time as they had very high specifications on construction/finish and made to wash at high temperature.”

Image: Scrubs made by Andrew Bannister-Bailey, Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Fashion as part of the Emergency Designer Network scheme.

Image: Scrubs made by Andrew Bannister-Bailey, Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Fashion as part of the Emergency Designer Network scheme.

Graduate Gracie D'Silva also responded to the call out, Gracie said:

"I heard about the scheme during the first lockdown, I think a lot of us saw the NHS, health care workers and other key workers documented on the news and felt a bit helpless. I wanted to help support health care workers and be able to contribute some way in this uncertain time. So when I heard about the Emergency Design Network initiative, I immediately knew I wanted to volunteer and use my sewing skills to support the NHS.

I enjoyed the technical learning experience of making the scrubs and knew how beneficial this would be for health care workers. The EDN would regularly post updates of other volunteers producing scrubs and health care workers wearing them on their Instagram page. I found it rewarding to see these photographs and see how much of an impact my efforts made. "

Image: Bethany Williams: Alternative Systems exhibition. Photo Design Museum. Photograph Felix Speller. 

Bethany Williams: Alternative Systems opens on 22 February 2022. The exhibition celebrates the work of designer Bethany Williams. Her work tackles social and environmental issues, and this display will also include her collaboration as part of the Emergency Designer Network to create PPE during the pandemic.