1999 (refurbished in 2014)
Dundee Contemporary Arts is a thriving art and design center in the unassuming city of Dundee, at the heart of Scotland. The Dundee art scene is a quietly rumbling force to be reckoned with, and it's gaining momentum by the minute. It feels like one of those secrets that you're the last to find out about. At the hub of all the action is DCA — an incredible, sprawling, open space housing a cinema, restaurant, bar, print workshops, art exhibitions, creative spaces, a packed schedule of courses and events, and the recently-renovated DCA shop full of quirky, design-led pieces and fabulous original work by local creatives.
The space is beautiful. Beautiful in a strong, industrial kind of way. And the atmosphere within is buzzing, bustling with people and families of all ages and walks of life, coming together and creating a culture of their own — a place where freedom and creativity is raised up, individuality is cherished, and opportunity is home-grown. It's infectious.
At the core of DCA, and of its shop manager Eilidh McNair, is a passion to nourish creativity in the local community, provide a platform on which it can be celebrated, and provide an open door to all who wish to explore the arts. The DCA Shop is a natural expression of this.
Name/Title: Eilidh McNair, Retail Manager of Dundee Contemporary Arts Shop
Launch date: DCA Shop is part of Dundee Contemporary Arts, and has been trading since the opening of the centre in 1999. This February the shop underwent a refurbishment, complete with bespoke design from Glasgow based DO Architecture and specialist cabinet fabrication by Joachim King. After deciding to refurbish the shop, we quickly determined that a bespoke design was a fitting way to provide a quality selling platform for stockists and a unique experience for our customers. Creating an opportunity for an architect or designer interested us too, especially since we have recently started to work with designers to produce exclusive products, so the commissioning of an architect seemed a natural extension of this. DO Architecture worked closely with us to determine our needs and after many months of consultation, several weeks of off-site and then on-site fabrication, we are thrilled to be trading out of our newly transformed space.
Inspiration for opening: DCA Shop was conceived as the retail arm of DCA's activity, and our selection of goods reflects the centre's art programme, as well as the creative output of the wider community of designers and makers. We are lucky to have a proactive and thriving community of grass roots design in the immediate and surrounding areas, and the quality of work coming from graduates of the nearby Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design is of national standing. We offer early opportunities to new practitioners, by selling their work alongside national brands and established makers, always with the aim of forging on-going, sustainable partnerships.
Merchandise source: We stock established design brands Black and Blum, Normann Copenhagen, and Donna Wilson, alongside homewares and craft by independent designers such as Nikki McWilliams, Lotta Cole, and Hilary Grant. Our range spans housewares, jewelry, stationery, books, magazines, and artist's prints. We visit exhibitions and open studios events to find emerging talents and fledgling design companies, and cherry pick a selection of new design products. It's important to us that a common thread runs through the selection of such a diverse range, and affordability and practicality are key, our aim being that the products we sell can become a treasured part of everyday life. DCA also has its own renowned Print Studio, and we sell artists' prints made in this on-site facility.
Best selling item: To help celebrate the launch of our new shop, we asked illustrator Gabrielle Reith to produce an exclusive product, and her tote bag featuring her distinctive bird designs has had a great response from our customers. Her screen printed tea-towels and laser-cut, hand finished brooches are confirmed favourites too.
Your favorite item: Anything by Hilary Grant, but especially this Pom Cushion in soft lambswool, which shows off her pared-back yet luxurious style.
Favorite store (other than your own): Kiosk, in New York, is a real gem of a shop, and I love their fascinating collections of everyday, often overlooked, utilitarian products sourced from different destinations around the world.
(Image credits: DCA)