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A prototype of a cape design made from ventile cotton with a screen-printed lining
PROJECT: Cape Samples
PHOTOGRAPHY: Caro Weiss
MATERIALS: Ventile Cotton, Screen-printed cotton
COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: Scotland
March 28, 2021
Back before the V&A Dundee opened it’s doors to the public for the first time an open call was put out online for a surface pattern designer to work on a family of print designs for their staff uniforms.
As a designer, I've always loved visiting the V&A in London for inspiration so I didn't hesitate in applying for the commission and was over the moon when I found out my proposed idea had been chosen to take forward. To have been selected to be a small part of the V&A Dundee experience felt very surreal and exciting and something I never expected.
However, the pitch of the idea was just the first part of a creative journey. Shortly after finding out I’d been successful with my idea, there was a welcoming meeting to talk through things further with a small team from the V&A Dundee. Then it was back to the studio where I began to work away behind closed doors on developing my idea into sketches and print experiments. Like most designers, this can be a painful process (if that’s the right word?!) – working away on drawings over and over until something just starts to feel right? It is the most challenging part, but also the most rewarding. Trying to tweak that drawing to the point where you feel confident to stand up in front of a room of people and say ‘here’s where I’m heading’ is never easy, but I do love it as much as it terrifies me. So many designers say that we are our own harshest critics and this is so true. That’s why I love working to a brief for a client sometimes as you get real, honest feedback. Something that can be hard to achieve working away for days on end on your own in your studio on a design for your own collection where the only person who says it it’s good enough to make the cut is you!
Curators Charlotte Hale and Kirsty Hassard were great at facilitating this creative journey and made studio visits down to Glasgow to and I up to Dundee. The brief asked me to create a family of prints – three in total to be used across a bag, an apron and a silk scarf. The designs were to be independent of each other but sit together and read as a family.
The design is inspired by the building and it's relationship between land and water. Thinking and working with key structural elements of the building itself, but also the idea of the building being like a cliff face and the ripples of water surrounding it are all thoughts that fed into the creation of this design.
Colours were to be in my signature style – bold and bright and after a few different discussions we all felt that the turquoise and yellow would lend itself to the designs, products and staff successfully.
Fundamental to the project (and any item I create!) was making sure the products were the best that they could be for the staff that were to wear them. It was out of this discussion that two sizes of scarf evolved – a super sized silk scarf and smaller neckerchief silk scarf. I love the fact that staff have autonomy over whether they choose to wear the bag and scarf, just the bag, just a scarf etc. It is also up to them how they style their scarf and when we took photos earlier this year (in a pre-Covid life, remember those days?) one of the staff, Lauri, who modelled the products for us was wearing her large silk scarf like a tie on her blouse and it was just perfect for her!
If any of you follow this page you may have seen we launched a similar silk neckerchief with the V&A Dundee retail team last summer (scroll down for details). This was born out of the uniform commission too albeit in very different colours to keep the staff and public versions very visibly different.
One other really rewarding thing about this project was working in partnership with three brilliant Scottish manufacturers – Halley Stevensons in Dundee (who coated the fabric in a water-resistant coating), The Centre for Advanced Textiles at The Glasgow school of Art (who printed the fabric) and Kalopsia in Edinburgh (who manufactured the products).
CLIENT: V&A Dundee
MATERIALS: Silk Crepe de Chine & Cotton Drill
PHOTOGRAPHY: Julie Howden© & Laura Spring
MODELS: Daryl McCowan, V&A Dundee Retail Supervisor & Lauri Thorndyke, V&A Dundee Vistitor Assistant
PARTNERS: Halley Stevensons
March 28, 2021
In its second year, DES at Lyon & Turnbull Edinburgh exhibited the work of over 30 designers and artists. Exploring ways that design can enhance the way we live our lives, curator Susanna Beaumont aims to "champion design excellence and exploration."
Artist Clare Barclay and I collaborated on 3 works utilising the Finnish ryijy technique that I learned whilst on the British Council x HIAP Design Residency last summer.
Ryijy is the word for a knotted wall hanging and there is a rich history of them in Finland. Wool has been specially produced so that once the knots are cut it doesn’t fray. It’s a slow, almost meditative technique that is very different from screen printing but has raised lots of interesting conversations between Claire and myself that we hope to articulate in some writing soon...
EXHIBITION: Design Exhibition Scotland
COLLABORATOR: Claire Barclay
MATERIAL: 100% Finnish wool and beech
PHOTOGRAPHY: Ruth Clark
EXHIBITED: Lyon & Turnbull Edinburgh, June 2019
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