V&A Dundee

School pupils become ‘bonnet’ designers

Press release

24 February 2017

Dundee school pupils are taking inspiration from their local design heritage in a new project run by V&A Museum of Design Dundee.

The Bonnetmakers project is working with two primary schools in the city to design 21st century ‘bonnets’ with the support of leading Scottish milliners Sally-Ann Provan and Pea Cooper.

Rosebank Primary School and Our Lady’s RC Primary School are both based in the Hilltown area of Dundee, which was historically known as Bonnet Hill because local people designed and sold the traditional style of hat from outside their houses.

The 47 school pupils have researched local design history around the city, and worked with the milliners in their schools, ahead of a design jam today where their ideas will start being turned into three-dimensional prototypes.

Susan Whyte, School Development Officer at V&A Dundee, said: “Local design history is a fantastic resource for inspiring young people, and Dundee’s history making bonnets is a great example of a design style that was located in a very small geographical area.

“As we build up to opening V&A Dundee in 2018, it’s particularly important we continue to work in schools and show how design creativity is a skill that any young person can learn.”

Working with Dundee City Council, the museum is jointly developing its learning programme with teaching professionals seconded over a ten-year period.

Dundee City Council children and families service convener Councillor Stewart Hunter said: "This is a great project which links Dundee's traditions with the future of the city.

"I am sure these pupils be inspired by this in many ways and their involvement will give them a fascinating insight into the importance of design to Dundee through the years."

No examples of the traditional Dundee bonnet survives today, but it is known that they were made of circular knitted wool, and that black bonnets were usually worn by the middle classes and blue bonnets by the working classes.

Milliner Pea Cooper said: “The creative industries are very important to Scotland, supporting tens of thousands of jobs. Teaching children about design from a young age gives them the chance to learn new skills and hopefully inspire them to become involved as adults.

“Bonnetmakers has been a wonderful project to work on. The pupils’ enthusiasm is wonderful and the level of design they have produced is absolutely fantastic! I am so excited to see the finished hats.”

V&A Dundee has been working in communities across Scotland since 2014, when its Living Room for the City project launched in Dundee.

The Bonnetmakers project will culminate in a fashion show in Dundee’s Wellgate shopping centre on Friday 24 March, where the pupils’ finished designs will be revealed.

The project has been made possible by the support of the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee.

For more information, please visit http://ninetradesofdundee.co.uk/