Designing a new tartan for Aberdeenshire- stage one

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Designing a tartan is something as a Scottish designer I'm very honored to have been asked to do, especially for my home county. so where do you start?....
(above two drawings of tartan by pupils at Old Meldrum Primary school)
A little bit of background:  I've have been commisioned by Aberdeenshire council as part of they're placemaking project which aims to change the way Aberdeenshire is seen by communities, visitors and businesses alike. Their programme, titled Be Part of the Picture, will showcase the region as a place of beauty, quality and innovation, using a range of creative engagement projects to explore all that Aberdeenshire, as a distinctive area in its own right, has to offer. 
(above: where I grew up)
 My job as a designer is to design a brand new tartan that is completely unique and best represents Aberdeenshire, and to do this I really wanted the local community to be part of it. So I have been visiting schools and setting them a brief so that they actually choose the colours which are specific to their own area, then I'll feed these into the design.  The school involved are from all around the county : Aboyne School (Marr),Dales Park School (Buchan),Kintore School (Meldrum),Lochpots School (Banff and Buchan),Meldrum Primary (Garioch) and Mill O’Forest Primary (Kincardine and Mearns) and were chosen as they had very little visiting people to them.

 The first part of the process is now underway, I did a little presentation to them about my own work and my journey from being at school myself to being a designer,then set them the brief. It was so refreshing working with kids, and everyone including the teachers were so enthusiastic.  it was great fun, and I love the random questions that they asked me.... like  have I ever made a panda hat? and what's the most original creature I had designed? It did make me think we are far too inhibited as adults and worry about what others think too much, children just say what the first thing that comes into their heads, it is great!.
I have no idea what they will come up with yet as I'm still awaiting some of the colours, but the idea is that 6 schools, will go out, the photos of their area, really focusing on what is unique to their area, and then create a mood board. From that they have to really look at the colours that appear in the photograph and recreate them with paints. I wanted to encourage them to look with fresh eyes at their own countryside and environments, and think about colour.  not their favorite colour, or colours they think things are, but what's really there.
I have always bee inspired by colour, and having grown up in Aberdeenshire, I think it had a very special light, I wanted the kids to realise that skies are not necessarily blue, they can be pink or lavender, and trees are not a green straight from the tube  they can be blues greys all mixed in together.

I will keep you posted on the next stage which will be gathering up all the colour, designing then having it made!
For more information about the placemaking project of Aberdeenshire go to

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great asignment! Love what you did with the kids, very practical way to help them observe the world around them.

    (ps did you already pick a winner for the october give away?)