Opportunity: Scottish Design Relay

Friday Aug 25, 2017

V&A Dundee's dynamic new programme for young people is coming to Shetland.

Aged 16-26? Interested in design? Get involved!

  • Knowledge of knitting is not required.
  • Deadline for entries: Sunday 10th September.

Scottish Design Relay from V&A Dundee - poster for participants

Download the poster (.pdf) >>

How to take part

What is the Scottish Design Relay?

The Design Relay is a new programme for young people aged 16-26, taking place in 6 areas of Scotland. From Fair Isle knitwear to nuclear reactors, inspiration will come from your local design heritage. Your team will define the challenge. You will be encouraged to be creative, prototype and pitch your ideas. Your work will then be showcased in V&A Dundee when it opens in 2018.

What happens on the Shetland leg of the Design Relay?

In partnership with V&A Dundee and Shetland Arts, Niela Kalra of Nielanell and artist Amy Gear will be leading workshops at Mareel, Lerwick in November (introductory evening session 4th October). During the sessions, participants will explore local design history - using a Fair Isle jumper from the V&A's collection as a starting point.

This will lead to design of a new prototype. The jumper will serve as inspiration, but the result need not be knitwear (participants don't need to know anything about knitting!) - it could be a building or an app.

This is an excellent opportunity to work with design professionals, on a high profile project, and see your work in the V&A!

How to apply

  • To apply, give your name, age (you must be aged 16-26) and tell us something about your favourite object or design (design can be anything from a toothbrush or a font to a simple problem solving idea!).
  • Send your entry by email, video or other digital means to: designrelay@shetlandarts.org
  • Or, if you prefer, you can doodle it on the back of an envelope, make a mood-board or sketch and hand it in to Mareel Reception marked ‘Design Relay’.
  • The deadline for entries is Sunday 10th September

Need further information?

If you have any queries, get in touch: designrelay@shetlandarts.org

Architects render of V&A Dundee. Copyright Kengo Kuma Associates

V&A Dundee, Scotland's first design museum, opens in 2018. Work produced during the Scottish Design Relay will be displayed at the museum. Image © Kengo Kuma & Associates


Niela Kalra of knitwear studio Nielanell is delighted to announce her involvement in the Scottish Design Relay: a dynamic new project for young people, initiated by V&A Dundee.

This autumn Niela will be involved with a series of workshops for young adults in Shetland, with the aim of designing a prototype inspired by the knitting traditions of Fair Isle. Knitting will provide inspiration, but the design outcome of the workshops need not be a garment, or a textile—the final idea could be for a building, or even a digital product.

Exploring local design heritage

As a starting point, the workshops will focus on a 1920s Fair Isle jumper from the collection of the V&A (the jumper originally belonged to General Sir Walter Kirke, Commander-in-Chief of the British Home Forces during WWII). In partnership with Mairi Maxwell of V&A Dundee, Shetland artist Amy Gear, and Shetland Arts, Niela and the participants will explore the circumstances that led to the creation of such distinctive patterns and textile construction. Shetland and Fair Isle are now world-famous for their knitting; global connections are of particular interest to Niela, in combination with how local communities can be enriched by design.

Picking up the baton

The idea of working with a group of young people is enormously inspiring to Niela, who believes them to be a great source of untapped design potential. She is excited to see how the members of the Shetland relay team will ‘pick up the baton’ from the crofters, spinners, dyers and knitters who shaped the traditions of Fair Isle knitting and, in doing so, created a design classic. Today’s young Shetlanders are undoubtedly capable of re-interpreting the craft and skill of previous generations, to create something new.

Between summer 2017 and spring 2018, teams in five other areas of Scotland will also respond to objects relating to their own local contexts: in Orkney the team will use a hundred year-old example of the Orkney chair as their inspiration. The Scottish Design Relay fits the theme of Visit Scotland’s 2018 ‘Year of Young People’, which sees a special year-long programme of cultural events.

The results of the relay will be on display (along with General Kirke’s jumper) at V&A Dundee, when it opens in 2018.

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