Donna Wilson for V&A Dundee
This year has been a busy one for collaborations, but one particular project close to Donna’s heart was with the newly opened V&A Dundee, the first ever dedicated design museum in Scotland.
Alison Acampora, Founder and Director of Water Whiskers Presents, got in touch last year to see if Donna would be interested to design some new products that could be sold in the V&A Dundee shop. The results, which are now available to purchase exclusively from V&A Dundee, were Selkie the Seal and a matching Seal Baby Blanket. Both Selkie and the baby blanket are made from 100% lambswool knitted in Scotland and hand finished in our London studio workshop.
Thank you to Alison, who kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the project and the V&A Dundee for our blog!
What was the retail concept for the shop and how did it fit into the wider mission of the V&A Dundee?
Extending V&A Dundee’s mission to enrich lives through design, the V&A Dundee Shop offers accessible, every-day products which celebrate quality and innovative design both nationally and internationally.
The concept for the retail proposition was to reflect the core mission of the museum in a number of key qualities and resonances. These include excellence of design, quality craftsmanship, use of natural materials, sustainability, approachability and Scottish heritage past and present.
Why did you approach Donna to collaborate?
A significant portion of the V&A Dundee Shop range focuses on contemporary Scottish design and I thought of Donna right away. Her Scottish heritage, dedication to craft and manufacturing in the UK, as well as her fresh and imaginative approach towards textile design meant she was a perfect potential collaborator.
When we first discussed the project, an obvious product to develop was one of Donna’s signature creatures. We talked about the landscape and waters which surround V&A Dundee and found a great source of inspiration in the story of the seals who live in the Tay. Their welfare was carefully considered while the building was undergoing construction. Seals can be seen locally in Dundee and all along the coast of Scotland, so they are a nationally significant animal. It also felt important to highlight the delicate relationship between man-made designed environments and the natural environment. And so Selkie the Seal and the Seal Baby Blanket were created!
Which other designers have collaborated on products and what did they design?
I am very proud to have worked with a selection of wonderful Scottish makers and manufacturers on a number of new and exclusive collaborations for the V&A Dundee Shop.
It was very important to showcase the breadth of contemporary Scottish design in terms of process, materials and techniques through the collaborations. The V&A Dundee Shop collaborations proudly feature textile design, graphic design, jewellery design, 3D-printing, hand-pulled and -foiled printing, hand-folded paper lighting, printed leather goods, hand-carved and -painted wooden models, Scottish tea plantations and traditional marmalade manufacture. In addition to Donna, collaborators include Lesley Barnes, DC Thomson, Lynne MacLachlan, Alice Jacobs, Beth Lamont, Kate Colin, Tom Pigeon, Ark Colour Design, Edward Smith, The Wee Tea Company and Mackay’s.
How have Donna’s designs been received by visitors?
As anticipated, her pieces have stolen the hearts of visitors to V&A Dundee! With a sweet, smiling face and upstanding character (liking responsibly flipper-caught fish and disliking single-use plastic), Selkie is a favourite and a true animal of our times. Donna’s new creature, as well as the seal baby blanket, are unique and very special within the V&A Dundee Shop.
The V&A Dundee is open to the public daily and is free of charge to visit (although some exhibitions may carry a separate charge).