A love of Harris Tweed combined with a strong business head has helped Uig’s Campbell Scanlan come up with a durable idea for a future product.
Campbell, 23, grew up in Lewis, attending Uig primary school and The Nicolson Institute before heading off to Dundee – where a number of Lewis students are making names for themselves in the design world.
Campbell was no exception, completing a BSc in product design. Although he had an aptitude for making things, it wasn’t just the physical aspects of design that interested him – he was especially attracted to the crossover between interactive design and physical design.
He told EVENTS: “Two years ago I worked with a team who won a UNESCO design award in China on a project designed to discourage people using their mobile phones in social spaces, rather than talking to each other.
“Called the 'Sociometer', it looks like a seismograph and records the bandwidth data being used by phones, visually capturing how many customers in a bar or restaurant are on their phones rather than talking to the people they are with."
After graduating, Campbell set up a bespoke furniture and interior design business in Cowdenbeath, where he’s still drawn to the potential for synergy between old ways of doing things and new. His latest design idea looks at giving Harris Tweed new properties so that it can be turned into structural forms. His lifelong interest in tweed naturally went alongside his love of traditional music – he’s a fiddler who has played with a bluegrass band and now does some sessions and solo gigs at his new home in Glasgow.
He told EVENTS: “I wrote my dissertation on traditional music development over the past 20 years and I wanted to design an instrument case that used traditional materials in a contemporary way, to reflect the way that I think many young people are taking traditional music and using it in new and unexpected ways. I began by making myself a case for my fiddle out of a dark herringbone tweed. I’ve been using it for six months and it’s doing really well.
“Existing instrument cases are not well designed for what musicians need today. It needs to include a variety of places for storing accessories like mics and pedals. The outside needs to be sticker-friendly so we can collect mementos of gigs and festivals and I’ve designed a detachable pouch for carrying sheet music.”
From that idea, Campbell has now moved on to ‘Waulking Cases’ – a business idea to create cabin luggage items for travellers using tweed. He was entered as a recent graduate in Venture 2019, the annual venture competition run at the centre for entrepreneurship in Dundee.
“My project won the category, with a £3000 prize and a space on the Dundee's accelorator programme this summer, to help take the project to the next step. I have been offered some assistance from Harris Tweed Hebrides and plan to develop this over the next year to look at releasing these products.”
It certainly seems that Campbell has the imagination and the work ethic to make ideas work, but he’s also got an unusual perspective on ways in which the old and the new can cross-fertilise to bring great, workable ideas to fruition. And he’s attracted excellent support for his work, including from HTH creative director, Mark Hogarth, who said: "This is an innovative project with real potential for finding a niche in the market and for subsequent growth. Campbell has the creativity and commitment to make a success of it, and we will give him every assistance."