Scottish Design Relay announces Orkney visit

A major new project aimed at inspiring Scotland’s next generation is set to visit Orkney.

As part of the V&A Scottish Design Relay, later this year, local craftsman Kevin Gauld will be working alongside local youngsters to create fresh new take on the Orkney chair.

Later this year, a team from V&A Dundee — the first design museum in the UK outside London — will travel to the county as part of the Scottish Design Relay.

Tapping into Scotland’s unique heritage along the way, over the next eight months, the team hope to include around 100 young adults from six areas across Scotland in this project.

Each location will focus on a design object that has a connection to their community. For Orkney, this will be our famous Orkney chair.

Taking inspiration from this object, local young designers will be given the opportunity  work the V&A team to develop new ideas before creating a prototype design.

Their finished work will then be displayed in Dundee, when the museum when opens, next year.

Mhairi Maxwell, V&A Dundee project coordinator, feels this will a brilliant opportunity for young folk in Orkney to connect with their design heritage.

“In each area, the participants will work with an inspirational designer and together they will define a problem and will come up with a solution,” she explained.

“The project will see them learn new skills and build their aspirations and confidence.”

For the Orkney leg of the relay, youngsters will be studying a hooded Orkney chair, designed by David Kirkness around 100 years ago. The will be working alongside Orkney furniture maker, Kevin Gauld, who has been making Orkney chairs since he left school at the age of 16.

“The Orkney chair has come a long way from its humble beginnings,” said Kevin, who is excited to be working on this project.

“Before David Kirkness they were mainly made by crofters for their own homes. He was the man who really saw the potential and realised there was a huge market for them because of their uniqueness.”

Kevin feels that it’s vital to pass these skills on to the next generation. He’s looking forward to seeing their ideas and getting a fresh take on the techniques involved in making Orkney chairs.