This year, as part of the London Design Festival 2013, nine Central Saint Martins design graduates joined arms to showcase under the group-name, CSM Invasion. This year’s CSM Invaders took to The Do Shop, Covent Garden to takeover the store, and display their graduate collections. We caught up with the nine designers individually to find out more about them, and what inspires their work.

Ann Mercer’s fascination with industrial buildings is translated through her collection of hand-crafted vases which, collectively, give the sense of a beautiful modern cityscape. Her combination of minimal forms with colour and pattern are key in recreating an alternative take on the environment which, as a Londoner, Ann has been immersed in since her time at CSM.

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1) What attracted you to study ceramics?
I was attracted to study ceramics by a very charismatic teacher in my Foundation Year. I had previously intended to specialise in textiles! However I feel that both media have a lot in common- both are very fluid and both use texture, and pattern.

2) I know that cities and industrial buildings are an ongoing theme throughout your work. What is it about this that interests you so much?
I grew up in the industrial north of England. The area was dominated by factory chimneys, huge cotton mills, and coal mines and machinery. I love the austerity of form: the strong, functional shapes and the spare, elegant proportions. But I also love modern architecture, and the sophisticated simplicity of modernism. In this current collection, modern city buildings with unusual, geometric forms have been the inspiration, decorated with the patterns of the urban environment: grids, windows, heating louvres and roofs.

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3) Is there anywhere else you draw ideas and inspiration from in terms of art and design?
I really love the colours and patterns of the Memphis Movement, and Sottsass in particular has been a great influence. I love his forms and colour combinations. I also love Escher, and the geometry, symmetry and repetition that he employs.

4) Is there any significance in your choice of colour and pattern?
In my current collection, the colour palette is derived from Renzo Piano’s new buildings at St. Giles Circus, near Covent Garden. But I have previously used colour combinations from Designers Guild collections that I liked. Sometimes, just the colours in an advert appeal to me and I will use them. I like experimenting with complementary colours and unusual combinations.

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5) Could you tell us a little about your time at CSM?
It was such an exciting time; exhausting and fun, and I made so many friends, [even] though I am generally quite a solitary person. Sometimes I felt bombarded with new ideas, but that was exciting. And friends helped me so much with skills, especially technology skills. I think we supported each other and that was so wonderful.

6) How would you advise students currently studying your pathway?
I lacked confidence when I started, I was anxious that I would not be as good as everyone else. But I decided that I could only do my best, [and] that whatever I produced was where I was at, so there was no need to apologise. Just go for it!!!

Tweet Ann, and @CSM_Invasion here #LDF13

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