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Starter for 6: meet the style gurus of the future

These fashion and product designers, architects and furniture makers want to change the way you live – and have all won up to £10,000 from the Starter For 6 enterprise training programme to help them on their way


Jaggy Nettle

Jason Lee and Emily Quinn, anti-fashion designers, Hawick

You make anti-season fashion. isn’t that a paradox?

Emily: We make things that people will want to wear for a long time.

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You could say it’s paradoxical running a label when you don’t like being told by the fashion industry what you should wear and when. But that’s just how it is with us. We’re just doing our thing. We don’t want to be pushed to do stuff to a timeline. That and the cloned stuff the industry is coming out with doesn’t interest us.

What’s the worst piece of fashion you’ve ever owned?

Jason: In the early 1990s I bought a pair of wide-leg, bright green Chipie cords. I bought them from a designer boutique in Kirkcaldy for £140 -- no small sum when you’re on free school dinners and making £6 a week selling Betterware. I bought them on Friday, and on Saturday they were reduced to £20 a pair. Everyone was wearing them after that. My mum ended up making a pair of curtains out of them.

Why the name Jaggy Nettle?

Jason: The word appeared to me in a dream. That sounds like whimsy nonsense, but it’s true. We want to do something innovative with this brand. We don’t want it to be just a Scottish label. We want it to be a globally recognised brand.

What are the benefits of being romantic and creative partners?

Jason: We can bounce ideas off each other at any time. We’re also in a position to be completely honest with each other, and there is no dominant character on the decision making front.

Have you always worked in fashion?

Jason: My background is in fine art, but I also did a spell as a trapeze artist for a circus, and developed my love of clothes then. We were encouraged to make our own outfits, and I revelled in making colourful and flamboyant pieces.

Emily: I’ve been a university lecturer in textiles for the last 11 years. In the 90s, I presented ITV’s F-Word fashion show. I’ve also worked as a stylist for newspapers and magazines. In 2000, I won Caledonia magazine’s Top Scot Award for my contribution to design and textiles.

What’s next for Jaggy Nettle?

Jason: We recently pioneered a method of weaving seaweed into clothes for our range, Jaggy Nettle @ the Seaside, an industry first. We’re revealing the range early next year at an underwater exhibition. Both spectators and models will be in the water.




Studio Gnu

Chloe Harrison, 32, product designer, Glasgow

Your signature piece is the Harris Tweed Trophy Stag, pictured, right. Where did the idea come from?

I went to a few auctions where I saw trophy animals that looked lifeless and, well, a bit patchy. I knew there was something much better that could be done with the concept. And that’s when I came up with my tagline, “All the fun without the flesh!”

Do you have your stag in your home?

Not yet. The stag is the one and only animal in the collection right now. I’m working on a hare. It’s almost done, but I’m having problems with the whiskers. I’d like to do more exotic animals like lions and zebras, maybe even endangered or extinct animals.

What do you think about taxidermy?

Taxidermists use so many materials and techniques that aren’t relevant to what I do, but it’s a fascinating art. I don’t really agree with hunting or the hunting trophy thing. But some taxidermists don’t work with hunted animals.

Are you an animal lover?

I’ve always loved animals. When I was younger, I was torn between doing zoology, veterinary studies or design. Studio gnu finally brings together my animal and design obsessions.

Would you model a client’s pet cat or dog?

Hmm. It’s not something I’ve considered. But you never know what kind of commission might come along that you find interesting. I won’t say no, but I’m not convinced I’d say yes.

Do you come from a creative family?

My dad was head of design for The Hunterian Museum And Art Gallery in Glasgow for 25 years then set up his own furniture design company. I basically grew up in his workshop surrounded by lots of design ideas. That’s obviously had a great influence on where I am now.

Where did the name Studio Gnu come from?

I’ve loved the Gnu Song by Flanders And Swann since I was wee: “I’m a Gnu, I’m a Gnu, The g-nicest work of g-nature in the zoo.” But I also liked the idea of being called after a wildebeest.



Liz Eeuwes Design

Liz Eeuwes, 27, rug designer, Glasgow

You use New Zealand wool in your rugs. Why not Scottish wool?

The rugs are hand-knotted in Nepal from the highest quality New Zealand wool. NZ wool is the industry standard for rugs that use a lot of bright colours like mine. I’m looking into the possibility of using Scottish wool in new projects but for the current range it’s easier to source and use NZ wool.

Have you been to Nepal?

Not yet because my business is only a year old. But it’s something I really look forward to doing in the next few years. I’d love to meet all the people who have been working on my rugs. I’m licensed under the GoodWeave certification program, which means that no child labour is used in the making of my rugs and fair wages are paid to the workers.

What inspired you to do landscape designs?

Flying over the Scottish countryside on my trips back to my homeland Ontario, Canada. Landscapes mean different things to different people, but the common thread is that people can feel a connection to them.

Why did you move to Scotland?

I came here six years ago to do the design course at the Glasgow School Of Art. It really stood out from the rest. I don’t have family here, but I thought it was a good place to be. I’ve really enjoyed my time and would definitely like to stay.

What one person would you most love to buy your work?

I would absolutely love an iconic product designer to enjoy one of my rugs. That would be really special, a real stamp of approval.

Are you precious about people walking on your rugs?

Not really. They’re easy to clean. They’re just wool. I would probably avoid spilling red wine on them. You could take it to a rug cleaner but would that get it out? I have no idea, actually.

What’s the newest addition to your collection?

I’ve done one covering Ontario. Some potential clients and the Canadian press were asking why I hadn’t done a Canadian rug. So now I have.



Ice Cream Architecture

Sarah Frood, 26, Desmond Bernie, 24, Bebhinn Burke, 24, architectural designers, Aberdeen and Glasgow. Sarah speaks for the team

What inspired you to start Ice Cream Architecture?

We wanted to break down the barriers of architecture and bring something new to the profession. We want to stay inspired, work on really cool projects. We didn’t want to graduate and go work for some stuffy architecture firm.

The profession is stuffy?

It’s definitely a closed-door profession. Many people feel intimidated when they hire an architect, or don’t even know what architects do. We’re trying to dissolve that image. Our market research told us that people are worried about architects running away with their own design ideas, not listening to their client. Our thing is to show clients what they can do with their own ideas rather than force ideas on them.

Why are more architecture students not following in your footsteps?

In other creative industries you’re taught the importance of selling your product. In architecture you’re taught to expect work to come to you just because you’re good at it. We’re turning that around and taking ourselves to the work in our ice cream van.

Favourite flavour of ice cream?

Has to be vanilla.

When you were wee, did the ice cream van come round your bit?

Of course. We actually looked at buying an ice cream van and the accompanying run, but it’s ridiculously expensive. Our van is actually a camper masquerading as an ice cream van. I owned the van anyway so we didn’t have to spend money on that. The cost comes from fitting it out. We want to create a showcase space where people can come to have a consultation or learn about architecture.

Who’s the bossiest of your colleagues?

Me. They call me admin lady. They say I’m always sending them emails: have a look at this, do this, go here. Then there’s Des, the maverick who turns up at the last minute and has great ideas. And then there’s Bebhinn, the arty one. We were at university together for six years so we know each other well. Somehow the mix works.



Andy Murray Design

Andy Murray, 23, product and furniture designer, Edinburgh

Were you into building stuff when you were a kid?

I’m kind of embarrassed to say this. When I was three, the nursery teachers asked us what we wanted from Santa. The other kids wanted toys but I wanted cardboard boxes and a roll of sellotape. My mum always says, “When you asked for that role of sellotape, I knew there was something a bit special about you ...”

Do you kit your place out in your own furniture?

Not yet. But I’ve only been making it for the last few months. I graduated from Napier University last November, and in January I launched a book, inspired by the recession, on how to make things from a tea towel -- including bags, wallets and watches. I’m a product and furniture maker. I wear stuff from this collection. What’s the point of making something I can’t use myself.

How fast can a furniture designer piece together an Ikea drawer?

Quite quickly -- though I wouldn’t necessarily buy it. I used to build Ikea furniture for my summer job when I was at university. I worked for a property company that filled its flats with the stuff.

What’s been the best recognition of your work to date?

Last July I won a D&AD Yellow Pencil for my sea defence collection. Winning a D&AD is like winning an Oscar in the design world. I won first prize in the student category, so I was pretty pleased.

What will you use the Starter For 6 money for?

I will buy vacuum bags for bending wood. In my designs, I push the material to the limit just before it breaks. I’m the only person doing this in Scotland, I think.

Are you ever mistaken for Andy “Tennis” Murray?

You’re the only person who’s asked me that today. Today is a good day. On my first day at the New Designers Exhibition in London in 2009, about 90 people asked me that.




Val Thornber, 42, language development story writer, Edinburgh

Where did the idea for GrowStoryGrow come from?

I have been teaching French and Spanish to children through stories for more than 20 years. But I wanted to find a new way to teach that was more interesting and relevant to children. So I put them online.

Who writes the stories for your site?

I do. I’ve been writing stories all my life. My mum, who is French, is also a story writer.

How long does a story take to write?

Sometimes years, sometimes 10 minutes. Sometimes the idea comes to me straight away; sometimes I have to work on it; sometimes I have to research it if it’s historically based or factual. It just depends on the idea.

What’s your favourite story on your site?

I have the French title in my head and I cannot for the life of me remember it in English. Oh yes, it’s Ugly But Nice, that’s it. It’s a simple story, a bit silly, about a monster with three eyes and two noses. He’s a monster but he’s actually very nice and he falls in love with a pretty girlfriend.

What other languages do you speak?

English, French and Spanish. I also speak conversational Senegalese. I was working out there for two years with a development charity. Grow Story Grow is currently just in French and English. But I’m going to use the money from Starter For 6 to translate the stories into Mandarin and Portuguese.

Why do you only write stories for children?

I teach children so they were the most familiar starting ground. But I’d love to write stories for adults. The stories on the site use simple, repetitive language so they’re particularly good for children.

How quickly can a child learn a new language using your site?

The stories are spattered with the 12 high frequency words such as “so”, “is” and “but” -- which make up 24% of all reading and writing. By focusing on these words they can be reading very simple language in practically no time at all.



Starter For 6 is a government-funded enterprise training programme that supports up-and-coming creative entrepreneurs across Scotland. Visit www.culturalenterpriseoffice.co.uk

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