How many times have I been asked this question?

After 16 years curating exhibitions of contemporary design and craft in museums, stately homes, Sotheby’s London and New York, Liberty, the Crafts Council and for the past four years in No 10, Downing Street, I caved in.


I am lucky, I do what I love: spotting, encouraging and nurturing exceptional talent. When people ask how I know what I am looking for, I wish I could say I knew but it’s not a science, it’s like a light bulb that switches on in my head when I see something special and exciting. That special IT.

I see an overwhelming number of graduation shows and gallery exhibitions. It often makes me giddy. I feel I am suffering from visual indigestion but occasionally (when I am lucky), the trusty light bulb ‘pings’. Maybe it’s only one gem often tucked away at the back of an overcrowded room. It is emphatically not the perfectly made table, chair, vase or necklace. It’s potential. The unexpected surprise. Creativity and innovation, not to be confused with gimmickry. Nor am I impressed by things resonating of others.

I look for a clear, confident, individual voice.

For some years I wrote on design subjects for The Weekend Financial Times and instigated a monthly column, ‘Work In Progress’ which followed the transition by fledgling designers from the nurturing, protective environment of art college through the first couple of years in the real world. A Shock of the New to many. I wrote about the mistakes, successes and most importantly, lessons learnt.

It’s always great looking back at students and more established designers and makers who I ‘backed’ at the beginning of their careers –Ron Arad, Tord BoontjeEd Barber and Jay Osgerby,Martino Gamper,Baranby Barford – a long list of furniture and lighting designers, ceramicists, jewellers, taxidermists and textile artists.

THE EYE will be going around exhibitions, fairs and, of course, the street, where unexpected treasures are often found. Look. See.


If you would like to keep up with THE EYE, you can always follow me on INSTAGRAM OR

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Powered by MailChimp


  1. Hi Janice, I’m trying to find an email for you as would love to send you an invitation to a show close to my heart. Please would you mind getting in touch with your details so I could forward to you. Would be lovely to see you again Andree Cooke

  2. Please please use a stronger ink I find it so difficult to read. I so enjoy your blog Solveig

  3. Hello Janice,
    We met a long time ago…please could you email me so we can reconnect.
    All the best,

  4. love it – fresh and amusing!

  5. Janice – I’m trying to connect with you. Please email me!! xoxo Julia

    • Julia
      where are you??? Was talking about you only this week.
      do you have my email address – same as before.
      are you still in D.C.?

  6. I have just discovered you.
    What a wonderful website.

  7. Great covering of the Milan Design Week, I wish you had the chance of seeing more of these hidden jewels

  8. wow how wonderful after our brief meeting this morning very early I thought I’d take a look so hello ! see you in the water


  9. I’ve enjoyed reading your wonderful blog this morning. Can’t wait to receive updates x

  10. You are wonderful; good move to do this! You are singular in your research, passion, support, and analysis.
    You need and deserve your own platform. Everyone will follow you. I know I will.
    Blanche Dubois (Tennessee William’s ‘Streetcar Named Desire’) may indeed need to “rely on the kindness of strangers” but you don’t need to rely on anyone anymore; do this yourself, with your own magnificent Voice, and you will be heard and you will continue to change the landscape of design.
    You are the best.
    LOVE LOVE LOVE, Murray

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.