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Page last updated at 13:29 GMT, Friday, 18 February 2011
Flux fires up Staffordshire University ceramic students
Flux tableware
Flux's aim is to consider more radical ceramic design

A new ceramics design firm set up by Staffordshire University and selling work by its students has said it aims to generate £100,000 in orders this year alone.

The Flux project was set up in the university's business village by Professor David Sanderson using Higher Education Innovation Fund money.

Students get a 4% royalty on any sales of their work.

The project recently launched at a showcase trade fair in Paris.

Professor David Sanderson, who is Course Director in Staffordshire University's Faculty of Arts, Media and Design (AMD), said: "We're adding substantial value to ceramic items that are manufactured in Stoke-on-Trent by adding our designs, and then selling them around the world. It's great for Stoke-on-Trent and for the University."

Flux tableware designs are the work of Masters degree students studying ceramic design at the University. The designs move away from traditional approaches to crockery decoration.

Professor Sanderson added: "My intuition suggests there is a massive gap in the market which is currently not being addressed by Staffordshire brands/factories."

Trade fair

Students and staff from the university took their designs to the prestigious Maison et Objet trade fair in Paris in January.

Attracting attention from décor magazines, including Elle Decoration and Veranda, the venture gathered £30,000 worth of orders.

"When we arrived at the fair and when we put our display up I had a good feeling; but to have generated the level of orders that we did for our products is unbelievable", continued Professor Sanderson.

The company is now searching for a manufacturer to make up the ware.

Asked how the company would grow, Professor Sanderson said: "The University currently holds all the ownership of the project but is committed to re-invest profits back into the project to enable growth and expansion.

"It is possible for this venture to become a University 'spin-out' company, at which time, for example, the University could hold up to 49% of the equity."

Student experience

One of the MA Ceramic Design students Sarah Callard, 23, worked on the Flux stall at the Paris trade fair.

She said: "Due to the interest in my Flux designs, I now have a couple of well-known French companies that want me to design for them."

Flux also aims to retain the best students after their graduation "and in so doing, encourage the retention of creative, intelligent professionals within the Staffordshire region".

Flux tableware
Students working with Flux design for cups, saucers, plates and mugs

A similar project, The New English, also started at Staffordshire University, has since been taken on by private investment.

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