Vanilla Ink Studio’s Kate Pickering asks why designers must go south?

By Kate Pickering

England is littered with design fairs showcasing what the best of British has to offer: beautiful craftsmanship, innovation and design, and creatives flying the flag for hand-crafted local products.


Customers flock to these coveted events and designers go to great lengths to ensure their attendance, applying for funding just to be part of shows like Treasure and Goldsmiths.

However, what about Scotland? Where does our wee country fit into this creative venture? Are our design fairs a must-do diary date? As a proud Scottish designer, it pains me to say that the answer to this is no.

Despite having a strong number of fairs Scotland is failing to attract the attention of designers and customers needed to support and sustain a creative industry. A friend recently stated that Scotland just doesn’t have the market for it, so she travels down to London to tap into its illusive customer base.

In fact, many of my Scottish friends who are designer-makers pack up their work and head down South. Fairs in themselves are expensive but when you add travel and accommodation on top it often becomes unattainable; it takes a lot of courage and money.

We hear people talking about the talent that exits in Scotland, so why do we have to leave the country to access buyers and achieve recognition? Is this not the year of Creative Scotland “to position Scotland as one of the world’s most creative nations to audiences at home and across the world”? Or so says the organiser.

However all isn’t lost. Scotland can tap into and build on the existing reputation held by English fairs, bringing an exclusive range of events linked to these prestige fairs. Craft councils need to prioritise opportunities to showcase Scottish makers, promoting and enhancing the craft industry in Scotland.

The market has for too long been saturated with mediocre fairs without any favourable reputation. Scotland needs an event that has the seal of approval – an event that will make designers from England hop on the train to Scotland; an event that will ensure buyers, retailers, and collectors mark the date in their diaries; an event not to be missed.


This column was taken from the May 2012 issue of Professional Jeweller magazine. To view a digital version of this issue online click here. If you work in the jewellery trade and would like to write a column for Professional Jeweller email the editor at outlining your idea.