Gray’s students take part in national project with V&A

The final leg of the Scottish Design Relay, a national V&A Dundee project, has been completed in Aberdeen.

Design Relay teamA team of 16 students from RGU’s Gray’s School of Art and North East Scotland College (NESCol) were challenged with creating a new prototype inspired by their design heritage.

They teamed up with Naomi Mcintosh, an Aberdeenshire-based jeweller, and V&A Dundee’s Leanne Fischler for the project which spanned five days.

The team were asked to create a new design inspired by the city’s traditional paper industry and spent time exploring Stoneywood Mill, which was established more than 300 years ago.

They designed a sculptural paper installation comprising of 20 unique cylinders, paying homage to the huge ‘dandy rolls’ which are found in paper factories and are used to impress watermarks during the manufacturing process.

Each cylinder in the installation is designed to display different decoration and patterns, reflecting the shapes and colours seen in the mill.

The students also took inspiration from studying an intricate enamel plaque designed by Aberdonian architect and jeweller James Cromar Watt. Made around 1900, and originally intended for setting in the back of a hand mirror, the plaque will go on permanent display at V&A Dundee.

Designer Naomi Mcintosh said: “The project provided the young people with the opportunity to work collaboratively and learn about the heritage of Aberdeen, bringing together 3D design students from Gray's School of Art and textiles students from NESCol.

“The visit to Stoneywood was a unique starting point. It was fascinating to see how paper is made and the young people took inspiration from the patterns, textures and colours they saw, as well as from James Cromar Watt’s mirror design.

“They worked in teams and used hand skills alongside modern technology to make sculptural three-dimensional objects, transforming paper into a series of sculptural objects to form an installation.”

To help them create their prototype design, the team took part in several workshops developed in partnership with NESCol and Gray’s School of Art.

The workshops included a tour of the Stoneywood Mill to understand how paper is manufactured, tutorials on creating different textures and patterns with wax and inks, using laser cutters to cut and etch paper, and making a prototype of the installation.

The team also pitched their design concept to friends and family as well as staff from the college and art school.

The team’s work will be displayed in V&A Dundee when the new museum opens on 15 September, alongside prototype designs from the five other Scottish Design Relay teams across the country.

Leanne Fischler, Scottish Design Relay Project Facilitator, said: “Aberdeen has a rich design heritage that deserves to be celebrated. We are delighted that the final leg of the relay was held in the city and involved wonderfully creative and talented students from NESCol and Gray’s School of Art.

“Stoneywood Mill is a great place to be inspired and the design team’s installation makes use of the beautiful paper it produces. As well as learning about the traditional industry of papermaking, the team also utilised modern technology like laser cutters to help create their design.”

The Scottish Design Relay is being supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery and the Mathew Trust. The relay started in Dundee in August last year and has also visited Orkney, Caithness, Shetland and Govan.