Scotland has a long and proud history of design, with names such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh making an impact on the world architectural scene. Scottish woolens, tartan and tweed have markets across the world, and there are small businesses across the country producing innovative and attractively designed items.
One of the best known names in the world of jewellery design is Ola Gorie, who designs her range of distinctively Scottish jewellery from her home in the Orkney Islands. Her designs feature traditional Celtic and norse symbols, and everything is made by hand on the islands. The classic nature of the designs for bracelets, pendants and other items mean that Ola’s work is popular not only in Scotland but across Europe and beyond. Other companies producing similar items are Sheila Fleet and Ortak.
One of the newest names on the Scottish design scene is Gillian Kyle, who only graduated from Art School in 2008. Gillian’s designs feature well-known Scottish brands such as Glenfiddich whisky, Tunnock’s teacakes and Irn Bru incorporated onto bags, coasters, mugs and tea towels. The product range is popular with both tourists and locals alike, and the innovative designs are quite different from most of the other Scottish textiles on the market and her unique look has attracted attention from press both home and overseas.
Suzanne started her design career as a children’s book illustrator and saw a gap in the market for a range of character accessories aimed at the tween-age market, girls aged around 7 to 12. The brand she came up with is Santoro Gorjuss, featuring a range of appealing characters on bags, notepads and wallets. The designs are not overly cutesy or babyish, and this should guarantee that the Santoro Gorjuss range appeals to a wide age group.
Ness has singlehandedly dragged tartan and tweed into the 21st century with its range of funky bags, clothing and accessories. The company’s designs are inspired by traditional designs but use fashionable shades of lime green, hot pink and turquoise. The styles are fashionable but not too trendy or high-fashion, and will form the basics of many womens’ wardrobes. Ness has recently launched a range of Harris Tweed items, which will further support this uniquely Scottish fabric and raise the profile of Scottish crafts across the globe.
Pringle has some high profile customers including Madonna, David Beckham and Sophie Dahl, but most of us still associate it with lurid golfing jumpers. Pringle has a history dating back to 1815, and started off weaving woollen cloth produced from the local sheep farming industry. The 1980s was the period when Pringle was at the peak of its popularity, and was worn by celebrities, sports people and sports fans alike. In more recent years the company has been struggling financially due to the challenging economic climate, but the owners are restructuring and refocusing the efforts of the design team in an attempt to move away from the golfing jumper stereotype.
Guest blogger M. Peers wrote this article after being inspired by a purchase from Gifts For Tweens for some Santoro Gorjuss goodies by Scottish artist Suzanne Woolcott.