Young V&A’s ‘Designer in The Shed’

January 26, 2024

Nestled within Young V&A’s permanent design gallery is The Shed, a self-contained design studio that echoes the structure of the listed building it sits within. Its architecture is reminiscent of the corrugated warehouse skylines of our creative East London neighbours. Punched through several of its walls are glass windows divided by shelves. As you circulate The Shed you will find shelves laden with products, samples and materials and beyond that a rare insight into the workings of a designer’s studio – almost like a ‘live exhibit’ you will find designers ideating, testing and making in this space.

The Shed programme is dedicated to nurturing young to mid-career designers to develop their practice. Each year we host a 6-month placement for a designer to work on an in-depth research project inspired by Young V&A collections. They are supported with a bursary, a design studio to embed themselves into ‘The Shed’ and opportunities to engage with Young V&A’s visitors through Show and Tell events, tours and workshops.

Young V&A’s first ‘Designer in the Shed’ is fashion accessories designer Clara Chu. Clara creates sustainable upcycled handbags made from waste! She repurposes low-cost donated and discarded household objects, carefully deconstructing them into materials that are made into imaginative one-of-a-kind designs with a sweet-like aesthetic of vivid colours and sensory textures.

During Clara’s 6-month placement she has researched Young V&A’s collections and handling objects to create a new collection. Each handbag has its own identity and function inspired by her research and the objects donated during her time in The Shed. Expect to find Meccano, 1950s dolls clothes and microscopic slides imaginatively upcycled into her playful bags.

Two brightly decorated bags
Some of Clara’s bags

Twice weekly, Clara rolls open the vast door to The Shed to welcome visitors to look around her studio, explore her project and collections, and to ask her questions. As soon as it opens families start wandering in, eyes wide in awe of this treasure trove, budding young designers quizzing Clara on her background and methods, validating their own desires to design and make things. Parents march their children in when they have been too nervous to ask, ‘How can I do this?’, ‘Is this really your job?’ and ‘I want to be a designer what advice can you give me?’

These early, often ‘first time’ experiences for children and young people, are significant. This moment of insight and spark of inspiration provides them with the tacit knowledge that they can also create change. Coupled with hands-on workshops in the adjacent Open Studio, the idea of shaping their world becomes a tangible reality.

A woman with pink hair working with a cutting board
Clara in her studio

Visit The Shed and see Clara Chu’s final project – on view from January to May 2024.

  • Drop-in: School Tours, every Thursday (term time), 11.00 – 13.00
  • Drop-in: Show and Tell, every Saturday, 14.00 – 16.00

See events at Young V&A.

Our next partnership for a 6-month placement, with a bursary, will be with Danish Arts Foundation please see DAF website for eligibility and how to apply.

1 comment so far, view or add yours


Logra producto integrando materiales, colores y formas de manera equilibrada y que transmiten alegría… Muy bellos.

Add a comment

Please read our privacy policy to understand what we do with your data.


Join today and enjoy unlimited free entry to all V&A exhibitions, Members-only previews and more

Find out more


Explore our range of exclusive jewellery, books, gifts and more. Every purchase supports the V&A.

Find out more