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 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.
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
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
“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:
- Glenfeshie Estate and CottagesA Famous Filming Location Available for Let
- Lundies House: A Historic Manse Converted into a Hygge-Ready, Scandi-Scot Guesthouse
- Quiet Beauty: At Home and Work in Edinburgh with Nina Plummer of Ellei Home
- Edinburgh Bolthole: A Stylish One-Room Vacation Apartment Converted from a Garage
Featured image: Photograph of James, Hugo, and Dougal, their lurcher. Photograph by Hal Haines.