V&A Dundee

Polar explorer joins V&A Dundee’s Scottish Design Relay

Press release

21 August 2017

A polar explorer who followed in the footsteps of Captain Scott will join the first leg of the Scottish Design Relay.

Craig Mathieson, the first Explorer in Residence with the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, will help a team of young people in Dundee come up with a new design related to travel and exploration.

The Scottish Design Relay is a V&A Dundee project to inspire the next generation of designers by tapping into Scotland’s unique heritage.

Beginning in Dundee on 30 August, around 100 young adults from six areas across Scotland will take part over the coming months.

The design prototypes created by each team will be displayed in V&A Dundee when the museum opens next year.

Those involved in the first leg of the relay will study Dundee-built RRS Discovery, an exemplar of the city’s important design heritage.

Launched in 1901, Captain Robert Falcon Scott's expedition ship was specially designed for Antarctic exploration, and was the first to be constructed specifically for scientific research.

Its crew also had the latest equipment to help them withstand the freezing climate including fur-lined windproof clothing, reindeer skin boots and tinted wooden goggles to prevent snow blindness.

Craig, from Buchlyvie, Stirlingshire, was 12 years old when he decided he was going to reach the South Pole after reading The Worst Journey in the World, a memoir of the 1910–1913 British Antarctic Expedition led by Captain Scott.

He achieved his goal at the age of 35 and now runs The Polar Academy, a charity giving secondary school pupils the chance to go on an expedition across Greenland.

Craig, who believes good design can mean the difference between life and death, said: “Developing kit and equipment for expeditions is about coming up with something that is functional, no matter what happens to it.

“If it falls in water, if it is frozen or if it is accidently kicked around it still needs to work every single time because your life is dependent on it.”

He continued: “When you give young people a chance to do something and give them responsibility they always excel at it. For them, there are no limits or borders.

“I think the Scottish Design Relay is really refreshing and who knows what will come out of it.”

The young people taking part in the first leg of the Scottish Design Relay are all employees from Michelin’s Dundee factory.

They will take part in workshops held at Discovery Point, created in partnership with Dundee Heritage Trust, and work alongside Kevin Fox, founder of Dundee-based luxury travel bag brand LAT_56.

Mhairi Maxwell, V&A Dundee Assistant Curator, said: “We are delighted Craig will join us for the Dundee leg of the Scottish Design Relay. When it comes to creating a new product having a good understanding of who you are designing it for is vital.

“Not only will Craig give us a first-hand account of the challenges explorers overcome when navigating some of the harshest places on earth, he also knows how important good design is when facing extreme conditions.

“It is also very fitting that the first leg of the Scottish Design Relay captures the sense of spirit and adventure that will carry on throughout the journey.”

After Dundee, the Scottish Design Relay - which is being supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery and the Mathew Trust - will travel to Orkney before visiting Caithness, Shetland, Govan and Aberdeen.