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Scottish Design Icons: Draff

Scottish Design Icons is a series of small articles showcasing the big hitters of Scottish design. Jennie Patterson reflects on a piece of sustainable design that's as beautiful as it is innovative.

Whenever there’s an opportunity to visit a designer’s studio or workshop, I’m there! It’s inspiring to chat directly with the maker whilst being in their creative space filled with unrecognisable tools, messy surfaces and discarded prototypes. And that's exactly the kind of awe-inspiring space I found myself in when I went to visit designer Aymeric Renoud in his Dundee workshop.

Black and white photo of a man wearing an aproon standing in a workshop.
Designer Aymeric Renoud.

Serendipity led me to Aymeric. I initially came across his work for sale at Dundee Design Festival where I was fascinated by his Scandi design aesthetic paired with an unusual and eye-catching surface pattern. A few days later, I saw the design again; this time on display in V&A Dundee. I was compelled to find out more.

Aymeric moved to Dundee to study Interior and Environmental Design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design after working in furniture design in France for seven years.

The unlikely combination of frequenting Dundee’s craft brewery, 71 Brewing and gin distillery, Verdant Spirits whilst completing his dissertation in sustainability in furniture design resulted in Aymeric developing a process for turning waste from the drinks industry into a unique, composite and sustainable material called ‘draff’. Its lovely, distinctive smell evokes the distilleries it comes from.

“Everything starts from wet barley collected by me straight after the mashing process used in making beer and spirits," Aymeric told me. "Once dried and combined with a natural binding agent and put under high pressure, the waste is transformed into a 100% sustainable material that's strong enough to be used in furniture making.”

A circular piece of polished surface made from brewing waste. Half the circle is light-coloured and half is dark, due to the materials each side is made from. The circle sits on a bright red table top.
An example of Aymeric Reynoud's Draff, on our materials table in the Scottish Design Galleries. The light-coloured side on the left is made from beer waste products; the dark-coloured side on the right is made from gin waste products.

This pioneering process led to V&A Dundee including an example of draff as part of the materials table in the Scottish Design Galleries. You can have a look at it there and even get your hands on it.

One of the unexpected side effects of using the spent grain, juniper and berries in the process is the beautiful botanical imprint on the surface of the table which I absolutely love.

After buying a Draff side table, I now have my very own unique piece of design at home. I love how cleverly it’s made and knowing that something very similar sits in V&A Dundee's Scottish Design Galleries fills me with joy every time I use it; my very own museum-worthy piece of design.

Jennie Patterson is the Tourism Officer at V&A Dundee.