Representing the creative future

Designers’ Nest 2021: Full Line-Ups and backstage moments from the show

Have a look at this year's Designer's Nest finalists and find out the criteria of the contest

Designers’ Nest is a non-profit support incubator for fashion designers that have recently graduated from Nordic Universities. With a panel of established professionals including the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia & Head of Vogue Talents Sara Sozzani Maino, Y/Project’s Creative Director Glenn Martens, our founder Olya Kuryshchuk, and many more, the contest has 6 editions under its belt and it provided us with one of the few chances we had this year to see graduate work moving on the runway.

Every year, 10 finalists are selected to present their full collections in the Designers’ Nest group show that takes place at Copenhagen Fashion Week. The award winners receive mentorship and financial support to assist in the production of their collections on a commercial level. This year’s prizes aimed to supply the young designers with practical, hands-on help with a monetary 1st prize of 50.000 DKK, Browns Fashion choosing a collection to be sustainably produced and sold in their physical and online stores and Bottega Veneta offering a 6-month paid internship in Milan to a selected designer.

Here are this year’s finalists and all you need to know about the criteria and objectives of the contest!

Idaliina Friman, AALTO, 1st Prize Winner


Sara Sofie Tallaksen, Oslo National Academy of the Arts

Robin Söderholm, Beckmans College of Design

Monika Colja, The Swedish School of Textiles

Monika Colja

Kristian David, The Swedish School of Textiles

Kristian David

Emma Gudmundson, The Swedish School of Textiles

Belinda Rasmussen,Royal Danish Academy

Arttu Åfeldt, AALTO, Bottega Veneta internship receiver


Designers’ Nest director Dr. Ane Lynge-Jorlén shares the objectives and criteria of the contest;

Was it hard to organise the show during COVID-19? What were the biggest difficulties?

Yes, it was hard on several levels, and everybody has worked really hard to realise this edition. The finalists and jury were not allowed to enter the country, so the finalists recorded their presentations which were then watched and discussed by the jury digitally. Then there were all the production-related matters making sure health and safety were in order for the pre-recorded show. And the usual difficulties in dealing with shipments and delays, and as a very slimmed organisation we have run a marathon every day to make this possible.

Since this year students finished their collections from home, did you experience any differences from other years, such as unfinished collections?

As many of the collections were conceived from home, there seems to be an increased level of self-reflection and personal experience embedded in their work this year. This year’s work is really focused and coherent, and it may be a result of seclusion. We allowed designers with unfinished collections to apply, giving them a couple of months to complete their collection before the end of 2020.

“We look for originality, creativity, coherence, high level of design and craft skills. In addition to this, our designers must address wider societal topics such as sustainability, diversity, and inclusivity. ” – Dr. Ane Lynge-Jorlén 

This year we were not able to witness any of the graduate shows on the runway, do you think this added more resonance to this showcase?

We have already experienced a lot of interest in DN ‘21. This is because the designers’ work is so strong and relevant, but maybe there’s also a void that we’re filling. I’d prefer to believe that the interest is a result of their striking design and the important topics they are addressing.

What were the pros and the cons of broadcasting the show? 

It’s definitely a plus that we have something that lasts beyond the day, something that both finalists and everybody else on board can use and cherish. The flipside is not having the immediate response, the intimacy, and the multi-sensory experience of a physical show. The biggest con is that the designers didn’t get to experience it themselves.

What are the criteria for your selections of finalists? 

We look for originality, creativity, coherence, high level of design and craft skills. In addition to this, our designers must address wider societal topics such as sustainability, diversity, and inclusivity. Quite a few of our designers are highly aware of history, and their work expresses a new beginning or a shifting approach to historical and cultural practices.

How do you think the Designers’ Nest initiative is helping the finalists and what do you think that today’s graduates are in most need of?

We are a curated platform and incubator that offers support to graduates of high level. Through us, they get mentorship on various levels, sponsorship, internships, press and we work closely with both cultural institutions and the fashion industry. All this, I like to believe, can lead to recruitment. I believe today’s graduates need mentorships that will help them manoeuvre in this industry, make the right decisions and create a network that will lead to jobs.