Creative forces behind a city on the up
Creative Dundee co-founding director Gillian Easson gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of the organisation and some of the projects that are involving whole communities in their creation.
Istill think of myself as a designer, even though I’ve not designed a table or chair since finishing art college nearly 20 years ago. We all have our views about what design is and for me, design is simply about finding and solving problems. Like most new businesses, Creative Dundee was born out of a frustration that artists, designers, digital developers, architects and everyone else making a living from their creativity, weren’t well connected or well known about, even in a small city like Dundee.
We saw a problem that we could create a solution for, and now a few years on, we are an organisation which amplifies and connects creative activities happening across the city.
We run events, get involved in citywide projects and have an active online presence. We use design every day behind the scenes to make sure that what we provide meets the needs of the people who use our services.
For us, good design is invisible. Design is usually only obvious to users and customers when it doesn’t work well. We all have painful experiences of bad design – I have too many to share.
Our small team at Creative Dundee has used design to help improve the city and its surrounds in order to make it a better place in which to live, work and study.
Over the last year we’ve run a small project in Stobswell which explored and challenged some of the negative perceptions of the area. My colleague Claire worked in partnership with local people and organisations to find out their stories, hopes for the future and mapped their hotspots on a digital map, which included places such as Baxter Park, “Swannie” Ponds, and the house of Frankenstein’s author, Mary Shelley.
These personal experiences tell us more than just which places we might like to visit – participants spoke about the importance of community spirit and support, the activities and opportunities that many people might not know exist on their own doorstep.
Using a design approach to uncover the problems in the area, we created a short film featuring voices of the community to highlight the great benefits and positives about the area, in the film, “A Postcard from Stobswell”.
The film has been shown at festivals like Blue Skies, and has been viewed hundreds of times on our website.
A larger project, We Dundee, was developed with Fleet Collective to find out what people loved about Dundee and hear their views on the city’s future.
More than 4,000 people submitted their ideas and although this project was originally to support our bid to be a UK City of Culture, everyone’s feedback was really important to gaining the UNESCO City of Design title.
It was a great project to be involved in and it’s a good example of design working well. We Dundee reminded residents how proud they were of their city and a number of people even developed projects and businesses from reading the many ideas online.
We’re always looking for ways to design, engage and improve the city and have some interesting projects lined up.
The design community is really strong in Dundee, so if you want to connect For more information on Creative Dundee and its projects, visit www.creativedundee.com
Screen in the Square: as part of Dundee’s Commonwealth Games programme in July 2014, Creative Dundee filled a giant screen in City Square with local films, animations, music and more.