Three exciting Scottish design collaborations

Collaboration, both local and international, is a real strength in Scottish design. We take a look at three current partnerships creating exciting new products for 2018

Feature by Stacey Hunter | 10 Feb 2018

Following on from his first ceramics collection with British furniture institution Heal’s, Edinburgh-based designer Myer Halliday has transferred his love of pattern to textiles for the London interiors and homeware brand’s SS18 collection. Halliday’s Wave motif has been transferred onto the delicately proportioned Elgin chair (designed by Heal’s Senior Upholstery Buyer, Kris Manalo) as well as a cushion, lampshade and bowl. Halliday’s dynamic monochrome designs are drawn by hand to produce a delicately textured finish.

With their roots in innovation and design since 1810, Heal's have a long history of collaborating with prominent designers and pushing the boundaries of contemporary design. Homewares buyer Emily Rubner says of Halliday’s work: “It was clear that Myer’s creations lend themselves perfectly to textiles, which led to the development of the cushions, chair and lampshade. Myer is fascinated in the way pattern can alter our perception of everyday objects, and the result is a range of striking yet sophisticated furnishings.”

Like many collaborations, Halliday’s with Heal's was largely unplanned. “A contact with a buyer at a fair, an Instagram hook-up and a year later there have been regular sales, demos, lots of press, and a new avenue of work,” says Halliday. The chance to experiment outwith his main discipline is something Halliday emphasises: “I’ve really embraced the enterprise – it's been a chance to make friends, expand my practice and get insight into the work of an iconic store – and perhaps most of all to have fun.

“It’s been wonderful to get the call saying ‘What would you think of…? And would you like to…?’ and to be honest it's taken me down roads I wouldn’t have dreamed of when I was at college. A ceramicist designing textiles? Heal's are a business but they are also about working together and trying new things and I’m delighted they are including me in this adventure. Hopefully the best is yet to come!”

Edinburgh fashion designer Emily Millichip’s collaboration with Australian textile and interior designer Francoise Lane to produce the MILLICHIP X LANE series of backpacks is an expression of a global interest in the slow fashion movement.

Together with her husband Andrew, Lane runs Indij Design, one of the few 100% indigenous owned and run design practices in Australia, based in Gordonvale, Queensland. Lane was in the UK taking part in Accelerate – a British Council Australia skills leadership programme for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders working in the creative industries. Lane first saw Millichip’s work on Instagram.

“She came to visit the studio and we basically told each other our life stories within about ten minutes,” says Millichip. “We have very different lives but a similar energy, both in our personalities and in our work. We decided pretty soon after that to collaborate on a minimalist round backpack together. Fran designed the prints and I drew up the pattern and we decided to focus on one bold graphic print in three different colourways.”

Key to both designers is their experimental use of colour, with Lane inspired by the tropical landscape of Queensland where she lives and Millichip by her love of punk.

Millichip elaborates, “The print was actually inspired by seeds and seed pods indigenous to the tropical North but I love the way it echoes tiger print and polka dots. The green colourway looks like camouflage which is also a personal favourite print of mine. To soften the look slightly we have used a natural linen union which I haven't worked with before but I love the way the colours have come out.”

Both designers credit the British Council Australia and the Australia Council for the Arts for making their collaboration possible, citing the many logistical challenges that would have been difficult to overcome without support.

The time difference is noticeable says Millichip; “Our Skype meetings are always entertaining though. I'm usually sitting shivering in a fur coat and Fran is fanning herself with geckos running up the wall behind her.” MILLICHIP X LANE backpacks will be available this spring. 

Port Glasgow-based David Watson is an award-winning furniture designer and cabinetmaker, creating bespoke designs as well as his own signature collections, while Inverclyde textile designer and weaver Heather Shields specialises in vibrant, contemporary fabrics, homeware and accessories. Both have been on the Local Heroes radar for some time now and their first collaboration, the Govan Vector Chair doesn’t disappoint. Launched at the London Design Fair in late 2017, the piece is a perfect vehicle for demonstrating their mutual appreciation for clean lines and geometric forms.

Inspired by the looming form of the Finnieston Crane, Watson’s Govan Collection echoes the utilitarian forms of the Clyde shipyards and their industrial might. Made from European Oak, the Govan chair is handcrafted using a combination of traditional and modern techniques to create a simple yet elegant design. Watson’s signature Govan Armchair is upholstered in Shields’ Vector fabric, hand woven using yarn composed of 90% wool and 10% nylon giving it durability and strength, while maintaining the warmth and the soft tactility of wool. Shields’ design has a three dimensional quality inspired by the shadows cast by traditional Italian window shutters on a recent trip.

Her bold geometry complements Watson’s pared back Govan armchair in a very satisfying way. Together, Watson and Shields have created a sophisticated – and refreshingly weighty – statement piece rooted in urban typologies.

We’ll be returning to the subject of collabs later in the year so get in touch @localheroesscot if you have one coming up that you think we should know about