Designers head to Iceland to further connections

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Highlands & Islands designers head north to further their Icelandic connections in 2018

SHIFT – A Change of Direction or Focus
DesignMarch, Reykjavik, March 2018 & XpoNorth, Inverness, June 2018

Bringing together a group of five Highlands & Islands designer makers with four collaborators from Iceland, SHIFT is a two year long project which supports these designers to share ideas, techniques and skills, opportunities and explore environments and challenges.

The project began with an initial research visit in March 2017, when the groups of designers were brought together to meet in Iceland to get to know one another and start to foster links.

The activity in 2017 was centered around an exhibition of all participants existing work at DesignMarch in Reykjavik and this work travelled to XpoNorth, (Scotland’s leading Creative Industries Festival) in Inverness in June 2017 where, as well as the showcase, XpoNorth hosted two discussion panels on the project and allowed the makers and organisers’ time to discuss and plan for the next stage of the project.

Emergents is now pleased to announce that a second year of the project has been supported by funding from Creative Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). This new funding will allow the designers to create new work both collaboratively and individually and to explore new products, processes, markets and techniques.

Icelandic makers have very similar issues as our Highlands and Islands makers; of distance and remoteness as well as challenging and expensive travel when participating at international shows and events. We hope that by sharing these challenges our participants will come up with innovative ways to address the issues, will provide support and encouragement to each other and ultimately will both benefit from increased audiences and sales.

Working with our partners in Iceland, DesignMarch and Handverk og Hönnun, the designers showcase their new work at DesignMarch 2018 in Reykjavik and then at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery as part of XpoNorth 2018. The designers will also look at national and international trade and exhibition opportunities for this new collaborative work.

Pamela Conacher, Director of Emergents, commented: ‘I am delighted that we have been successful in our application for Open Project Funding from Creative Scotland for this exciting project. This is a fantastic opportunity for Highlands and Islands makers to work with their Icelandic collaborators to develop new ways of working, create new work and share challenges and processes.’

The SHIFT designer makers are:

Highlands and Islands


Craft Showcase at XPO North 2017. Scotland’s Leading Creative Industries Festival. 7-8 June 2017, Inverness. Picture: Paul Campbell/XpoNorth

Designers Biogs

Netty Sopata, Designer/Owner, Diggory Brown
Diggory Brown was established on the Isle of Lewis as a bespoke kilt making business by Netty Sopata in 2008. Netty specialises in using locally woven cloth: Harris Tweed, Breanish Tweed and her own range of Zero Waste Tweeds (developed by Uist Wool) in her designs.

Hilary Grant, Designer/Co-Owner, Hilary Grant
Hilary Grant is a knitwear studio and design partnership by Hilary Grant and Robert Harvey founded in 2011. Based on the remote archipelago of Orkney, they design knitwear and home accessories, which are sold in department stores and independent design stores in the UK, Japan, Hong Kong, US and Europe.

Julia Smith, Designer/Owner, Julia Smith Ceramics
Julia Smith creates contemporary pottery using traditional making methods combined with experimental glazed and printed surfaces. Her rustic illustrative style is applied across simple thrown and hand built forms. Her work is strongly influenced by her coastal location in the Scottish Highlands and often features windswept trees and manmade structures.

Lucy Woodley, Jeweller & Silversmith
Jeweller Lucy Woodley spent her childhood in a small highland fishing village. The sea and its creatures were a constant source of inspiration in her early work. Lucy’s work evolved from the sea to the land to incorporate the strong shapes of oak leaves and honesty seeds realised in silver with 18ct gold detail. These pieces were housed on mixed medium wall pieces which echoed the design of the jewellery. This created a whole new decorative object, extending the function of the work, giving the jewellery a home when it’s not worn and leaving a beautiful artwork when it is. Her work is now moving back towards the sea in the form of small sculptural works in silver and other materials looking at migration past and present.

Yellow Broom – Designers/Owners – Clare Waddle and David Robson
Each separate Yellow Broom product is co designed and crafted by hand within the Cairngorms national park; valuing good craftsmanship and the design process they have created a collection of sustainable wooden lighting with a zero waste approach to making that is both utilitarian and aesthetically pleasing.

Designers/Owners – Agusta Magnusdóttir & Gustav Johannsson
AGUSTAV is a furniture design and production company focusing on creating high-end furniture and aims at making pieces that can last lifetimes. At AGUSTAV the creation process centres on weighing out aesthetics and functionality. Product quality is assured by using carefully chosen, high quality materials that are skillfully crafted by furniture makers.

Arndís Jóhannsdóttir, Designer & Saddlesmith
Arndís Jóhannsdóttir lives & works in Reykjavik. She has worked with fish skin since 1984, making mostly bags, bowls and smaller products. Arndis has taken part in various exhibitions in Iceland and abroad including Nordic Cool 2004, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Transform Via Paris, Expo, Hannover 2000, and in Japan, Paris, Germany and Scandinavia.

Designers/Owners, Guðrún
 Larusdóttir and Ragna Fróða
Doppelganger collection is a co-lab of designers Guðrún Lárusdóttir and Ragna Fróða.  Their design is built on national heritage and traditional Icelandic textile patterns from the 17th and 18th centuries, using natural silk and merino yarn manufactured under environmental standards of oeko-tex® and bluesign®.  Focus is on classic design, endurance and aesthetics.

Guðný Hafsteinsdóttir, Ceramic Artist
Guðný Hafsteinsdóttir is a ceramic artist and her background is first and foremost Icelandic. Iceland has a great story-telling tradition and it shows in her works which are often characterised by story-telling features. In addition to her studies at the Icelandic School of Arts and Craft, Guðný has also studied and experienced ceramics in Denmark, Finland and Hungary.

Useful web links

Craft Showcase at XPO North 2017. Scotland’s Leading Creative Industries Festival. 7-8 June 2017, Inverness

Emergents is a community interest company that aims to support the development of creative careers, enterprise and the economy in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. They enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life.  They distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit  Follow on @creativescots and

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is an ambitious organisation with a unique remit from the Scottish Government that integrates economic and community development. They work in a diverse region which extends from Shetland to Argyll, and from the Outer Hebrides to Moray, covering more than half of Scotland’s land mass. They want the Highlands and Islands to be a highly successful and competitive region in which increasing numbers of people choose to live, work, study and invest.

Shift has been made possible through a collaboration between two organisations; Emergents in the Highlands and Islands Handverk og Hönnun in Iceland, and the support of DesignMarch

Top Image – SHIFT Showcase at XpoNorth 2017, Photographer: Paul Campbell, courtesy of XpoNorth