hot drink in a pod. a deck chair with suction feet. an electronic trumpet. an ergonomic bicycle; these are all ideas that have sprung from the fertile imaginations of this year‘s design graduates at Glasgow School of Art.

the best in the country for product design and runs a joint course in engineering with Glasgow University. Yet although it is the winner of a major prize (it‘s hush. hush at the moment but expect an announcement in December) only one in seven students can expect to find ajoh in Britain.

The word design means many different things. depending who you ask. Some reckon it is anything with a Habitat price tag. others will start going transcendental and whisper: ‘It‘s all around you.‘ Politicians like Michael Heseltine. who recently quipped. ‘yes we do need designers after all. it has to look good.’ aren‘t quite sure what it is.

The truth is that in Britain few people regard design as high priority. Look at any train or bus station and bad design in the form of uncomfortable seats on the verge of falling apart and cheap fittings will scream out at you. And while our art schools chum out hundreds oftalented graduates each year. most go straight where

Six of the best


Although this Glasgow-based company deals mainly with graphic work, one of its biggest projects was the total re-design of all the national filling stations in Austria. Other recent projects have included the design and packaging for the recent Gary Clark LP, the Tramway theatre logo and the graphic design for Scottish Ballet’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. ‘We see our work as cerebral-type design,’ says Andy Bowman, a director and designer of Blue Peach. ‘And we enjoy the diversity of working on lots of different types of projects.’


A partnership of Paul Simmons and Ally MacAulay, this textile design company has been involved in putting together the fabrics and interiors of several Glasgow restaurants including The Living Room, The Puppet Theatre and Maxaluna. As well as creating one-off commissions for clients, Simmons and MacAulay have also sold lengths of tabric designs to major European designers including Christian Lacroix and Sachohesslein. The cornpany’s most recent brief was to design the wallpaper for a fish restaurant In New York. To help promote its lntemational profile, Timorous Beasties has just opened two franchise showrooms in New York and London selling

The art school is widely regarded as one of


If our designers are so good, how come most of us live in such an aesthetically—challenged environment? Beatrice Colin finds out and (below) profiles some successful Scottish design companies.

the jobs are to the States. Japan and Europe. A recent

survey found that 56 per cent of world inventions are I, .,

British. 22 per cent American and 6 per cent Japanese. And who profits? With a small manufacturing base and a design-illiterate society. it certainly isn‘t Britain.

But while the role of design in our lives seems on the verge of stagnation. the role ofa designer in the face of new technology is changing. ‘lt's not good enough to just be creative and imaginative anymore.‘ points out Lynne O‘Neil. senior lecturer in product design at Glasgow School of Art. ‘You have to look at the user. the form and function. and the raw materials. and then be able to be many people; a psychologist. an analyst and a marketeer. for example.‘

Gone too are the days when designers can specialise in one area today‘s graduates have to be multi- disciplined. ‘()ne student has been employed by Clark shoes.‘ says Lynne O‘Neil. ‘They didn‘t want a shoe designer. they wanted someone with a much broader knowledge.‘

Likewise. design company Graven lrnages has succeeded by working in lots of lields such as interiors. graphics and product design. ‘Design is a process before it is anything else,‘ says director Janice Kirkpatrick. ‘If you design a helicopter or a

textiles and wallpaper. ‘We’re an oxymoron of contemporary textiles,’ says MacAulay. ‘Both modern and traditionalist.’


After eight and a half years in business, this company has carried out a considerable amount of design work in and around Glasgow. As well as being chosen to produce Glasgow’s submission to become the City of Architecture and Design, its most recent commission has been the complete re-design of The Herald newspaper. Other work has included the interiors of The Lounge and The living Boom bars. The company describes itself as “fairly rigorous, innovative and not parochial.’


An old hand in design terms, this Edinburgh company was formed in 1979, and has been involved with producing a number of corporate identities for major clients including Scottish Homes and Scottish Enterprise. More recently it created the Edinburgh Festival Theatre’s ‘winged woman” logo and designed the programme for the opening season. As well as putting together the annual reports for businesses such as Country Casuals and the Bank of Scotland, it has also designed packaging for Scottish and Newcastle, Simmers biscuits, Scottish Pride and Gordon’s Sloe Gin. ‘Vle look at the needs of the client,’ says

EHB’s packaging for Tennent’s Dry.

handkerchief the creative process is the same.‘

But can a designer stay in Britain Scotland even and still succeed? Although Glasgow seems to be a backwater when compared to the design-conscious continental cities like Milan and Barcelona. Kirkpatrick sees the city's history as a crucial strength. ‘Glasgow has a rich legacy as a city of designers. producers and exporters.‘ she says. ‘Two thirds of all ships were once made here. Mackintosh and Greek Thomson were at the forefront of the modem movement and this has had a strong impact on Scotland's ideology.‘

And with so many talented graduates, British design may soon be a word which may not be understood here, but will mean something abroad. ‘Britain is an amalgamation of lots of different cultures.‘ points out Kirkpatrick. ‘And that‘s a great richness fora country to have. We should now be looking forward and creating a distinct British identity in a federaliscd European marketplace.‘

Lorna Bateman, the marketing manager, ‘see who the market is, and create a design that is appropriate, from bold and dynamic to quiet and subdued}


This Edinburgh company has won various prizes including one at the Scottish Design Awards tor its packaging designs for the Adelphi Distillery. Corporate identity work has been varied and they have designed for the Clydesdale Bank and Edinburgh international Festival as well as brochures for Scottish Power. interiors includes the National Gallery Bookshop in the new Sainsbury Wing in london, and the identity and signage for the Gyle Shopping Centre in Edinburgh. ‘We have a reputation for being very creative and for our high quality of design work,’ says James llardie, the business development officer.

A winner of the Gold Clio award for its packaging tor Tennents Dry lager, EH6 is a young Edinburgh company with a shouting reputation for its bold, creative work. Recent projects have Included corporate identities for Historic Scotland, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drana plus identity and promotional literature for the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh.

16 The List l—l4 July 1994