Tartan & whisky! A design case study – #ad


– Today I have a story to tell you. It’s a story that involves
snow, whiskey, tartan, and some learnings about
the design process. Are you ready? (relaxing music) The Scottish Tourism
Board, Visit Scotland, sent me on a trip to
the Highlands recently. It was a lot of fun,
it was very beautiful. They wanted to show me an authentic piece of Scottish life and design, and now I wanna show you
some snippets of my trip and what I learned there
through a design case study. My lovely host for the
trip was Claire Campbell, and well, you know what, I’ll let her introduce herself through this clip that we filmed in her studio. Claire, tell us what you do. Like, how do you introduce
yourself to people, yourself, and your business? – Okay, so, I introduce myself as being a disruptive designer
within the world of tartan. – There we go. – So, it’s really, for me,
it’s about focusing on an idea that I’m really, really passionate about, but also thinking about the future, and how we can take something
that’s so famous for Scotland, but how we can actually take a 200 year stereotype and redesign it. – Claire runs Prickly Thistle,
which is a design studio that creates bespoke
tartan designs for clients, and I don’t know about you, but tartan is just one of those things that I had never given a second thought to the design process of before. It always kind of just existed. But that’s exactly why
it was so fascinating to spend a weekend with Claire and learn about her process
for designing tartan, and her approach for giving
a modern take on tradition. – [Claire] I mean, for me, I
see tartan as one of the most, kind of, ancient forms of identity, and I think that’s become sort of– everyone’s aware of that, whether they think of it
consciously or subconsciously. So, when I see some do–
at this point of time, we’re most famous for kilts. So, somebody will see somebody in a kilt, they’re at a wedding,
they’re at a rugby match, they’re anywhere around the world, and they go, “Oh, which
clan do you belong to?” But then you take it right
into the modern context, and for me, it’s actually–
we don’t have to stop at the clan system, and
then it’s all belong– it’s not all about actually looking back, it’s thinking about every day, or every person, and every business, anything that has a
personality has a story, and the most amazing thing
I find about a tartan is actually you can take
any story, you know, of any length or any,
you know, random aspect, and turn it into cloth just by picking out those key elements of
inspiration that give you colors, and then the other key
elements of inspiration are the things that give you numbers, and you start to kind
of blend them together, you order them in such a way
that it can read like a book. And you just take somebody’s story and you turn it into design. – Claire took me for a
tour of Johnstons of Elgan, which is a wool mill that creates beautiful fabrics and garments, and they actually make a lot of the scarves and things for Burberry and (inaudible), which is pretty exciting. I got to see the process
from start to finish of how fabric is woven and how
tartan cloth comes to life. And then, we went to visit
one of Claire’s clients, Tomatin, which is a
Scotch whiskey distillery. I love whiskey, so it
was fun to get a tour and see how it was made, and of course, do a little tasting afterwards. But it was also fun to
see the tartan decor hanging in their showroom,
and to know that Claire, who was with me, had designed it. Now, something that I say
a lot, because it’s true, is that design is not just
about making things look pretty. Design has purpose and it has meaning, and that’s why I love the
way Claire talked about her approach to tartan design. Like she said, when she chooses colors, she’s taking inspiration
from the client’s story, and, like, the number of rows, and the vertical and horizontal lines come from numbers that
are a part of the story. It means that every design
decision has meaning behind it, and it’s a really interesting way of giving yourself design constraints. So, I got Claire to tell
me a little bit more about the tartan design
for Tomatin Distillery. So tell us about this Tomatin tartan. – Tomatin tartan, yes! – What was the, like,
the color inspiration and the number inspiration behind this? – So, their story, so
they’re a corporate story, so they have a brand identity
that they want to engage and share with all of their customers. That’s everybody that loves their whiskey, that’s everyone that loves
coming to their distillery, that likes to read their story. So, they came to me at a point of when they were rebranding
the whole Tomatin product. So, it had a very distinct colorways that had been the same
for a number of years, and they had really wanted to, sort of, engage with a whole new audience and really sort of come
out in a slightly more kind of modern, softer
sight to the Highlands, which is one of their key straplings. So, they presented to me one
of their marketing briefs, which was them going
through that thought process of all the new colors, and
they also gave me a brief about the history of the distillery,
and all the key features, and what people loved about Tomatin. They loved that it was one of the highest distilleries in Scotland, they loved that so many
people lived on-site. You know, anyone that
visits the distillery will drive through that little village, which is the Tomatin village.
– Which we did yesterday. – Which we did yesterday, yeah. You know, and because it’s
1000 feet above sea level, we had lots of snow yesterday. – We did have a lot of snow. We’re going on a whiskey
tour and it’s snowing. – So, it’s a really high distillery, and you know, the fact
that it was formed in 1897. At one point, it was the
biggest producer in Scotland. So, it’s got a really,
really interesting history. And they wanted to embrace,
with their modern thinking, about what their brand
was, they still felt that tartan was really important. So they, like me, had
embraced that, you know, we can turn this around,
and we respect clans, we respect that space, but
we can do more with it. You know, there’s so much unwritten in terms of the future of
what the tartan cloth is. So, with all of that sort
of brief information, the colors, I was looking at the kind of the different strengths–
sorry, the different maturity, the maturation processes,
from the 12-year-old to the 14-year-old, you
know, their distinct colors that they use for their different brands. – And is that the colors
that we see in here? – So, this is the colors
that we have in here with the claret, and the green,
and the sort of dark brown. This was all in their
brief, which was covering the different ranges from
the 14-year-old Legacy range, the 18-year-old, et cetera. I’ve picked up four colors
in between because of, the guide was saying
about Monolith Mountains, but there’s the sort of space side rim that surrounds Tomatin, and
within the space side rim, which is a high range of
mountains, there’s four minerals, so we had four minerals built into there. We used the 1000 feet above sea level to give us this big band of colorways. 1897 is reflected here, these
two brown colors which are these colors which you’ll find in any of the marketing or packaging for Tomatin, they use these two base
colors in everything, so we use that as the founding year. So, in here, this cross
is reflective of the 1897, 18 yarns and 16 yarns
being nine and seven, pulling in there together. These 30 here, these 30 yarns are actually each of the houses for the staff, and all of these houses have been charged with that kind of angel-sheer impact, this kind of alcohol vapors are eventually consumed by a fungus that presents itself in a gray charcoal coloring, so this is their little block here. – So, that’s how you
get the different, like, the sizes of each check, in a way. – Has a specific meaning. And it’s definitely a
process of working through what looks nice and
what doesn’t look nice. So, you know, I did a number
of iterations of designs, and it was all about coming together with something that
presented, to them, that the– to have a sense of
pride of be-wielding it, they would be showing
it to their customers in their visitor center in their corporate and their packaging, so
it had to look right. And, obviously, that
extra story comes from– if you ever find it, this is
everybody that lives here, we’re, you know, we’re so
proud of our Tomatin team, we’re so proud that we’re
so high above sea level, this is our signature colors coming in turning you brown, just things like that. So, yes, it’s really
sort of playing around with all of that detail, and– – Putting them together
in way that looks nice. – And it’s always, for
me, it’s really important to work within that boundaries
because you want to keep it, kind of, true, from a design
sense, that, you know, if you’re saying you’re building a design based on all of these facts, then, you know, it’s working within that. So, it presents challenges,
but I think that’s good for designers that you actually
have boundaries sometimes, because I think it causes
you to be more creative. – Definitely, I find it’s the
hardest thing in the world to design when there’s no constraints, and you can do whatever you want. And then it’s like, “Where do I start?” And you start finding
constraints for yourself, and putting them in place, so
yeah, it makes total sense. (relaxing, jazzy music) – This beautiful building
that we typically use for, well, adventurers to the farm. – [Charli] And it’s where
you want to build a mill. – And it’s where we want to turn it into a mill, yeah, absolutely. If some of you, right on the
other side, want to walk? – Yeah, let’s do it. So, Claire’s currently running
a Kickstarter campaign to– woo! Hello, birds! She’s got one of those Kickstarter campaign to
build a mill right here. – You just can’t leave any
textiles in there at all, so for me, it’s (inaudible) to
bring back to the community, and this is the building I’m hoping to turn into that main thing.
– So, watch this space. I want to say a huge thank you
to Claire for talking to me about her process and for
inviting me into her family home. It was absolutely lovely, and
I found it really inspiring to hear about how she works
and how she’s putting those modern twists on something
very traditional, and I hope that you found
that inspiring, too, and that there’s some
little pieces of her process that perhaps you can take
into your own designs, like getting color inspiration
from the client’s backstory, and you know, building
patterns out of that, too. I just think it’s a really cool approach, and it’s something that I’m looking forward to experimenting with. Scotland is an absolutely beautiful place, I loved the whiskey, I
loved the snow, the scenery, and the restaurants that I ate at, the hotels that I stayed in,
it was– it was a lovely trip. So, thank you very much to Visit Scotland for sending me on it and
giving me this opportunity to share this interesting piece
of design process with you. Give this video a thumbs
up if you enjoyed it, and I will see you in the next one. Bye!

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