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Stacey Hunter – Curating design culture

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Through her creative enterprise Local Heroes, Stacey Hunter champions Scottish design including showcasing new designs at Edinburgh Airport during the festival month of August 2016.

“Positioning a design exhibition at an airport was something I’d always wanted to do since seeing fantastic Finnish design at Helsinki Airport,” she says, with support from Edinburgh Airport allowing new design commissions to be shown in a month where over 1.2 million passengers pass through the airport.

The Local Heroes exhibition “explored the notion of the souvenir and the theme of travel”, with new designs including a lambswool travel blanket by Hilary Grant, an umbrella by Karen Mabon and a one-shoulder swimsuit by Rebecca Torres.

“The reaction Local Heroes received, nationally and internationally, was phenomenal,” Stacey adds. “Residents and visitors to Scotland alike were delighted to see bold, confident Scottish design – and for me as a design curator it was wonderful to be able to evidence the huge appetite that that exists for design and design culture.”

Her own interest in creativity and design started at home, with her father’s engineering career and an early fascination in “the making of things and the problem-solving aspect of design”. 

From there studies in jewellery design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee were followed by an MSc then a PhD in architecture from the University of Edinburgh.

Local Heroes has since developed, with an aim “to seek out and provide opportunities for designers to expand their own practice, build their portfolio and collaborate in new territories”.

The latest project, Galvanize!, is a collaboration with arts hub SWG3 in Glasgow’s West End to create new outdoor objects, without being limited by strictly commercial considerations. Stacey gave the design team, Giulia Fiorista and Ed White of SLAPS, the freedom to be radical in their approach.

The final designs - inspired by Scotland’s own climate - are the Calm Tree, a huge blue, soft punching bag with cicular seating for 15, and the Glasgow-Rella, which has four steps for sitting, with drinks offered shelter in the form of a yellow, wobbly slice of 'cheese' and a wavy, crispy piece of 'bacon'.

In terms of the call for radical design, Stacey says, “I enjoy it when designers challenge the orthodoxy of ‘good taste’”, with Galvanize! “giving designers a chance to think freely”.

“Great design creates desire in us, sometimes as strong as love. Design has the potential to be sublime whilst also being one of the most accessible forms of 21st century culture,” she adds.

Stacey's work to date has involved partnerships “with an airport, a five-star hotel and an arts hub” and she’s actively looking for opportunities to create new projects.

She sees V&A Dundee as “the most welcome addition to Scotland I can think of!” “It’s really wonderful to see the impact V&A Dundee is already having on design, in terms of shining a light on this fantastic asset we have in Scotland.”

We’re proud to welcome Stacey to V&A Dundee’s Design Champions, in recognition of her passion for championing Scottish design around the world – and how she’s creating opportunities for designers to work on new commissions, in meaningful and more radical ways.

To find out more, please visit the Local Heroes website

(Main image by Ross Fraser McLean. Galvanize! image by Stuart McClay.)

The V&A Dundee Design Champions are inspirational designers creating high-quality work and helping to enhance people’s lives, or champions of the power of design to improve the world.

We will announce one Design Champion a week until the museum opens in 2018.

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V&A Dundee's Design Champions project is working with Dezeen as its media partner.

Dezeen is the world’s most popular and influential architecture and design magazine, with an audience of 2.5 million unique visitors each month.