Panel – Designing the programme

June 8, 2018

Catriona Duffy and Lucy McEachan have established an independent curatorial practice that engages designers to create new work connected to histories, archives and collections.

Catriona and Lucy began working together at The Lighthouse in Glasgow, Scotland’s Centre for Architecture, Design and the City, delivering programmes that explored design and architecture with both local and international perspectives.

When the Lighthouse Trust went into administration in 2009, Catriona and Lucy set up Panel. “At that time we felt there was space in Scotland’s cultural ecology for an independent design programme developed outwith an institution and on its own terms,” says Catriona.

As a curatorial and producing practice, they study local archives and collections working with partners across Scotland’s museums and heritage sector. Through this work they explore contemporary connections to social histories, and alternative ways of looking at Scotland’s current situation through cultural production.

“One of our major projects was Carpets of Distinction with the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh,” says Lucy. “The starting point was the business and design archive of Stoddard and Templeton, two of Scotland’s most significant carpet designers and manufacturers, held at Glasgow University.”

The project opened up the archive material to a public audience for the first time, alongside new textile com­missions at the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh. Lucy adds, “We wanted to explore contemporary making, in particular hand-tufted rug manufacture, through collaboration between artist and weaver.”

Central to their work is the desire to explore the boundaries of curating design and craft. “We didn’t formally train as curators, but our experience at The Lighthouse gave us an apprenticeship-like training in how to collaborate, how to commission, how to draw upon narrative, how to create programmes and how to connect with audi­ences, which helped shape our subsequent practice,” says Lucy.

Photo: Keith Hunter 

As part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme marking the 20th Commonwealth Games, Panel devised the project Scotland Can Make it! honouring the quality and diversity of Scotland’s creative practitioners and manufacturing industries.

“We commissioned a collection of six limited edition souvenirs, created by leading Scottish designers and artists in close collaboration with producers, fabricators and developers across Scotland,” says Catriona. “Presented for sale, the souvenirs were the focus of a programme of public events that celebrated our cultural heritage, creative practice, skill and production.”

Photo: Gordon Burniston

One of its aims was to support the professional development of the designers through the creation of new partnerships, as seen in Tunnock’s Medals by product designer Claire Duffy.

Her initial proposal was carefully and collaboratively developed with Tunnock’s, the design teams at Chesapeake packaging (makers of Tunnock’s cartons) and Friths (makers of Tunnock’s confectionary foils). The result was a playful re-working of the iconic teacake packaging as a set of medal tea cakes in gold, silver and bronze foils in a special presentation box.

“In these varying ways, the commissioning process for us is an opportunity to work with designers and creative practi­tioners with no commercial pressure from the outset,” Catriona says. “Briefs are open-ended to support experimentation and risk – which is really exciting. To work in this way with designers allows projects to flourish.”

We are delighted to welcome Panel as a V&A Dundee Design Champion, recognising their commitment to supporting designers create new work, as well as uncovering the stories hidden in Scotland’s manufacturing archives.

To find out more, visit the Panel website.

(Main photo: Michael Wolchover)

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 50 Design Champions in the run-up to the museum opening on Saturday 15 September 2018.


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. 

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