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Bard in Edinburgh: Two UK Design Stars Showcase Scottish Contemporary Craft in a House-Style Gallery

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Bard in Edinburgh: Two UK Design Stars Showcase Scottish Contemporary Craft in a House-Style Gallery

January 2, 2023

Do images of tartan and tam-o-shanters come to mind when you think of Scottish craft? Hugo Macdonald and James Stevens are on a mission to broaden the world’s impression of Scotland and its capabilities. The two have just opened Bard, an Edinburgh gallery in the guise of a collector’s grand quarters and it’s devoted to showcasing the country’s best contemporary craft and design.

Macdonald and Stevens, a husband and husband team, came to this project with impeccable credentials. A writer and curator, Macdonald was on the mastheads at Wallpaper and Monocle before serving as brand director for Studioilse; he grew up on  the Isle of Skye and notes that the Macdonalds are Scotland’s oldest clan. Stevens is an architect who spent the first decade of his career renovating historic structures at London salvage specialists Retrouvius. He has designed houses for Helena Bonham Carter and Eddie Redmayne and a store for Bella Freud.

To curate Bard, they spent a whirlwind two months visiting workshops, studios, and factories. They sized up willow vegetable baskets, woven leather pots, and 3D-printed totems as they chatted with makers about what it means to be Scottish today. “Bard is a cultural project, not just a commercial one,” notes Stevens. “We wanted to find out what’s being created in Scotland, where, by whom, and how. We also wanted to find out why.”

The two came away with the work of 35 artists, designers, and manufacturers of household goods, a high/low range of wares and styles, from doormats of recycled rope to abstract glass and wire sculptures. The driving idea behind Bard, Macdonald says, is to “honor Scottishness with all its natural glamour and rough edges.” Come see.

Photography by Edvinas Bruzas, unless noted, all courtesy of Bard.

The Shop

the shop is located in the \18\1\1 customs houses overlooking the water of leit 9
Above: The shop is located in the 1811 Customs Houses overlooking the Water of Leith in Edinburgh’s historic port, where it’s part of a creative community of studios, galleries, and event spaces.
james stevens, l, and hugo macdonald, r, previously lived in london and hasting 10
Above: James Stevens, L, and Hugo Macdonald, R, previously lived in London and Hastings; relocating to Scotland was a long-term plan that got jumpstarted by the unexpected availability of their quarters. Photograph by Norman Wilcox-Geissen. 
once the space was secured, stevens and macdonald spent two months overhauling  11
Above: Once the space was secured, Stevens and Macdonald spent two months overhauling it. The rooms formerly housed a menswear shop and had been stripped of just about all historic features: they had dropped ceilings and white plasterboard walls. Stevens reinvented the interior as the home of a collector, someone with a passion for contemporary Scottish wares.

The sofa is a Victorian five-seater reupholstered in wool from The Isle Mill of Perth, Scotland. “Approaching the spaces with a domestic mindset was a handy way of establishing the feeling we wished to achieve, neither shop, nor gallery, a familiar, comfortable, intriguing environment within which to spend time engaging with craft on a human level,” says Macdonald.

the previously painted wooden floor was sanded and the walls and ceilings plast 12
Above: The previously painted wooden floor was sanded and the walls and ceilings plastered using natural earth pigments—”they quite literally have a crafted finish.” Shown here: Sastrugi hanging sculptures by Naomi Mcintosh and a Fan Back Orkney Rocker by Kevin Gauld, The Orkney Furniture Maker.

Take a look at the freestanding shelving system: Stevens designed it using Ramsey Ladders in Douglas fir with rungs and adjustable shelves of Scottish Ash

the stairwell is decorated with a hanging by orkney artist mark cook, who appli 13
Above: The stairwell is decorated with a hanging by Orkney artist Mark Cook, who applies traditional knotting techniques to discarded and donated fishing rope.
burnt sienna tinted plaster walls in the dining room echo scottish baronial dar 14
Above: Burnt sienna-tinted plaster walls in the dining room echo Scottish baronial dark wood paneling. Furnished with vintage pieces, the space displays a changing array of ceramics, glassware, and sculptures by Scottish makers and studios.

Macdonald and Stevens write: “Our mission at Bard is to demystify craftsmanship, so people can understand its value beyond the polarization it tends to receive, either as nostalgic souvenir or untouchable art. Showcasing craft in a domestic context allows people to imagine living with and using craft in daily life, which is where it adds value to the individual, simultaneously elevating and grounding small daily moments.”

The Maker’s Work

burnt umber, £\2,300, a linen piece by textile artist hayley mccrirrick ha 15
Above: Burnt Umber, £2,300, a linen piece by textile artist Hayley McCrirrick hangs over Sheahan Made’s Vernacular chair and Alistair Byars’s Totem candlestick, £1,200. The six-legged stool is an antique.
lindean mill glass gem carafes, £\165, and a gem tumbler, £70. run by 16
Above: Lindean Mill Glass Gem Carafes, £165, and a Gem Tumbler, £70. Run by Annica Sandström and David Kaplan, who met while training in Sweden, Lindean is one of Scotland’s last remaining studio glassblowers.
a trio of lambswool bed blankets, £\150, by drove weavers of langholm & 17
Above: A trio of Lambswool Bed Blankets, £150, by Drove Weavers of Langholm “in the textile heartland of the Scottish Borders.”
the mcrostie leather workshop has been around for more than a century. its plac 18
Above: The McRostie Leather workshop has been around for more than a century. Its Placemats, £75 (shown) and companion Coasters, £20, are made of unadorned, long-lasting bridle leather.
the employee owned shetland woollen company of hoswick, a village in shetland&a 19
Above: The employee-owned Shetland Woollen Company of Hoswick, a village in Shetland’s South Mainland, makes classic crew necks of Shetland wood, including this Fair Isle Pullover in “iron rust,” £140.

“How can craft be a radical act, helping us to address social and environmental issues in contemporary life?” Before founding Bard with his husband, Hugo Macdonald curated a show in a historic house in Yorkshire that attempted to answer this question. See Radical Acts: Modern Craft for Social Good in a Georgian Estate.

Go to the Remodelista archive to explore more standout Scottish design, including:

Featured image: Photograph of James, Hugo, and Dougal, their lurcher. Photograph by Hal Haines.

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Product summary  Item 7 146Item 8 147

Bard in Edinburgh Two UK Design Stars Showcase Scottish Contemporary Craft in a HouseStyle Gallery portrait 5
Prints, Posters, & Paintings

Burnt Umber

£2,300.00 GBP from Bard Scotland

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