Bard in Edinburgh: Two UK Design Stars Showcase Scottish Contemporary Craft in a House-Style Gallery

Do images of tartan and tam-o-shanters come to mind when you think of Scottish craft? Hugo Macdonald and James Stevens are on a mission to broaden the world’s impression of Scotland and its capabilities. The two have just opened Bard, an Edinburgh gallery in the guise of a collector’s grand quarters and it’s devoted to showcasing the country’s best contemporary craft and design.

Macdonald and Stevens, a husband and husband team, came to this project with impeccable credentials. A writer and curator, Macdonald was on the mastheads at Wallpaper and Monocle before serving as brand director for Studioilse; he grew up on  the Isle of Skye and notes that the Macdonalds are Scotland’s oldest clan. Stevens is an architect who spent the first decade of his career renovating historic structures at London salvage specialists Retrouvius; since founding his own firm, he’s designed houses for Helena Bonham Carter and Eddie Redmayne and a store for Bella Freud.

To curate Bard, they spent a whirlwind two months visiting workshops, studios, and factories. They sized up willow vegetable baskets, woven leather pots, and 3D-printed totems as they chatted with makers about what it means to be Scottish today. “Bard is a cultural project, not just a commercial one,” notes Stevens. “We wanted to find out what’s being created in Scotland, where, by whom, and how. We also wanted to find out why.”

The two came away with the work of 35 artists, designers, and manufacturers of household goods, a high/low range of wares and styles, from doormats of recycled rope to abstract glass and wire sculptures. The driving idea behind Bard, Macdonald says, is to “honor Scottishness with all its natural glamour and rough edges.” Come see.

Photography by Edvinas Bruzas, unless noted, all courtesy of Bard.

The Shop

the shop is located in the 1811 customs houses overlooking the water of leit 9
Above: The shop is located in the 1811 Customs Houses overlooking the Water of Leith in Edinburgh’s historic port, where it’s part of a creative community of studios, galleries, and event spaces.
hugo macdonald, l, and james stevens, r,  previously lived in london and h 10
Above: Hugo Macdonald, L, and James Stevens, R,  previously lived in London and Hastings; relocating to Scotland was a long-term plan that got jumpstarted by the unexpected availability of their quarters. Photograph by Norman Wilcox-Geissen.