TELL SID ABOUT DESIGN
Anne Skinner investigates a new organisation making waves in the world of Scottish design.
Recycled buildings are becoming so common in Edinburgh‘s Leith now it is almost no surprise to find a number ofdesign companies housed ’likc rats‘ in a vast old whisky cooperage in a hidden corner of Leith. One ofthem is a young and energetic ‘surface print design‘ partnership. called Ocean Designs— ‘becausc we were getting into the bathroom market when we first set up.‘
The business thrives on its pooling — if you will pardon the pun — of talents. (‘olin Mackechnic is a trained commercial printer and his sister. Fiona. is a textile designer. While producing their own designs they are also profitably providing an important service to other designers. 'We‘re able to keep afloat because we're willing to print where the commercial market won‘t‘. explains Colin. Certainly the business has expanded his own technical ability and he has found ways to print on virtually anything from ceramics to shower curtains. One order from the innovative designer Stephen French led to his developing a new way to print on the notoriously problematic fabric. silk. but despite not having the usual machinery they successfully filled the order for bow ties printed with the Paris Metro map. (‘urrently they are working with another Scottish designer. Stephen lloffman. on beach and poolside chairs. tables and hammocks or ‘yacht furniture' as they like to call it.
You cannot be serious? Robert Dawson Scott umpires the court jesters.
Well, of course, it’stennis, and out onto the manicured greensward come the contestants for the first ever match or, as we like to say, battle between the sexes. 0n the ladies’ side, in the Teddy Tinling dungarees, Morwenna Banks and Amanda Swift looking as pretty as a picture- probably ‘Evil Dead ll’. They have a secret weapon, ‘The Jokes On Us’, their new book on women in comedy. Forlhe men there’s our own, our very own Andy Cameron, touchstone of taste, captain of comedy. His secret weapon? No one knows except the programme controllers at BBC Scotland who keep employing him. But we have uncovered a weakness in his game, a suspect backhand. ‘I never pay any attention to
Ocean Designs— they can print on virtually anything.
It is precisely this sort of collaboration ofdesigners which a newly formed group. Scottish Independent Designers. wants to develop. S.l.l). is the initiative of Fiana Lambert. an independant designer who has returned to Scotland after living in London and has set herselfthe ambitious task of uniting the best in Scottish independent design. creating an environment that will help Scottish design graduates stay in Scotland. Lambert hopes to establish a design network and ideally. a public a showroom and resource centre where the public can walk in off the street and buy designers products and services.
‘Shops like Next have made it acceptable to have something which is abstract — if the main stores have
a comic’s material. I pay attention to his delivery.’ Will the ladies’ secret weapon, which proves once again that if comedy is a serious business, academic studies of it are like watching Lendl on a clay court, be able to exploit Cameron’s backhander? Miss Banks and Miss Swift to serve.
‘Because women have for centuries been considered second class citizens, the public development of their personal humour has been arrrested.’ (What was if Pat Cash said about women’stennis?). ‘Bollocks’ rifles a wicked service return down the line from Cameron. Fifteen—love.
‘Women are often held back from achieving theirfull potential by personal factors as well as by the inflexibility of existing structures of employment.‘ ‘That‘s nonsense’ another flashing return from Cameron. ‘That's like saying an agent doesn’t want to earn money.’ Thirty—love. This was looking ominous forthe ladies.
‘Victoria Wood?’ a better service, crisp to the backhand. ‘She‘s brilliant’.
An ace! Thirty—fifteen and who are you calling ‘love' anyway you patronisng bastard?
‘Pamela Stephenson?’ serves down the centre line but it’s not a good one. ‘You’d whack your children for doing
produced it. its ()K'. says Fiona Mackechnie. ller view is that the
level ofdesign awareness in the l ligh
Street can only be good for indepenedent designers like Ocean and. like Fiona Lambert. is convinced there is a market here. "I’oo often people are put off going to design practices because there‘s
this image that they’re going to cost a
fortune‘ says Fiona Lambert. So what is the cost of the specially commissioned one—off piece of design? It needn't be prohibitive according to Colin. Ocean is prepared to be flexible in its cost structure and because there is none ofthe usual retail mark-up they can keep their prices competitive. "l‘he shops aren't going to negotiate — there‘s no mercy there.‘
First class design might not be what
Scotland is most readily associated
things like that, putting eggs down people’s trousers.‘ Forty—fifteen. Important point this; ‘Women are just as funny as men’ deep to the forehand. ‘Fair enough’ return across court to the forehand. ‘So why aren’t there more women comedians’ approach shot coming to the net. ‘Because they’re not as forthcoming when it comes to showing off’ Cameron throws up a lob. Banks and Swift run round and drive down the line ‘But there’s a whole new breed of women comedians. What about French and Saunders?’ ‘They’re about as funny as a hurricane’ returns Cameron cross court. ‘What’s wrong with them’ a desperate lunge just over the net from B & S to Cameron’s backhand. It should be an easy kill. ‘They set out to be shocking rather than funny’ returns Cameron cross court ‘I think they lack talent and they’re trying to make up for it.’ Into the net!
And sensationally, with the court at his mercy, Cameron’s suspect backhand has let him down again. Because, Andy, if you never pay any attention to a comic’s material, how do you know whether it’s shocking or not? And even if there was some absolute norm for shocks which these women comics had transgressed, it wouldn’t matter so long as it was properly
with but Ocean Designs and companies like it will. through the S.l.D.. be setting out to prove that maybe design as an industry here is an untapped resource.
5. I. I). welcomes new ntembers and anyone interested in joining the group should contact: Fiona Lambert. Secretary. Scottish Independent Designers. 5 .llontpclir’r I ’ark. Edinburgh [ill/0411', ()3! 2.384107
AS WE GO TO PRESS...
The Scotsman dispute enters its second week. Since defeating journalists in Aberdeen. the management of'l'homson Regional Newspapers hopes to inflict a similar blow on National Union of Journalists members in Iidinburgh.
After reaching an agreement over ‘new technology". problems arose with attempts to introduce new working practices ~ notably a ll) day fortnight instead of the present 4 day week. 'l'here have also been threats of up to 15 redundancieson The Scotsman and livening News. Suggestions that these would not be necessary if nebulous proposals for a new Sunday newspaper became a reality. have been greeted with some scepticism.
'1’. RN. claims that The Scotsman is suffering from falling circulation and advertising revenue. 'l’wo weeks ago the paper carried a front page report which quoted Prime Minister Margaret 'l'hatcher as saying that The Scotsman and (ilasgoii' Hera/d headed the list ofcompanies whose profits had risen enormously since the 1983 election.
()ne of the fears of the staff was that The Scotsman was being treated as a regional newspaper by its owners. This may not be a deliberate policy. but it could easily happen by default.
delivered, would it? Might there not be something else going on here? Just a teensy weensy bit of prejudice? Interestingly, though, Cameron’s remark about women being less ready to show off is echoed by Marti Caine who is quoted extensively in the book, partly because she is one of the few women comedians to have survived the notorious club circuit in the north of England. (Perhaps because of her own sharp tongue. ‘We want tits‘ yelled a boozy prop forward at the boyish Miss Caine who was following on four well-upholstered strippers. ‘You’d look bright with tils’ was her swift riposte.) She argues that women are more sober and responsible, in a very positive sense, than men and that they therefore find it difficult to release their comic imagination; literally, ‘lo be silly’. Though as Banks and Swift point out, if women’s sense of responsibility is only a reponse to men’s irresponsibility, it’s a double-edged compliment. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, ‘No men grow up; that is their tragedy. All women do; that is theirs.’ ‘The Jokes On Us’ by Morwenna Banks and Amanda Swift is published by Pandora Press at £5.95. Andy Cameron is appearing in ‘Wedding Fever’ at the King’s Glasgow. See Theatre.
The List 26 June — ()July 3