Prize Winner

Innovation Design Research Prize

Innovation & Technology Product Design

Valentina Alicia Uribe


Driven by a passion for the intersection of craft culture and ethical consumption, I am interested in design that reflects cultural diversity and promotes sustainable practices. I aim to enable cross-cultural communication through design, forging connections that go beyond borders and inspire positive change.

Throughout my dissertation I explored the benefits of craft in light of an increase in industrial production of objects that mimic artisan crafts. I analysed the extent to which capitalism has alienated us from the process of making, and how increasing appreciation of craft culture might counteract this. I dedicated a section of this writing and research into the places where capitalism has absorbed craft into its sphere of commerce. My prime example was the ‘souvenir’ – how and why the once hand crafted object has evolved into one that is mass produced, developing a new market which displaces craft produce.

Stemming from this research, my final project focused on raising awareness of indigenous crafts under threat, communicating the voice of the people and places associated with these crafts through the production of aspirational souvenirs. My aim throughout this project has been to celebrate and promote traditions surrounding craft practices by embracing their process of manufacture; from the use of local materials and the inherited making techniques, to their role in communicating these stories of provenance. This process demonstrates a way in which souvenirs can be developed to protect craft practitioners, preserve their heritage and reinforce the value of making by hand.

Dwelling Afloat | Future Experiences
Souvenirs In The Making | Final Project

Dwelling Afloat | Future Experiences

Throughout Scotland water is becoming increasingly prominent within our urban landscapes. Globally the rights of rivers are being incorporated into legal legislation, but Scotland has not followed suit. I have been interested in the ‘hard engineering’ approach to flood management in Scotland. These infrastructures to mitigate flooding are expensive, contaminate water, and are retrospective in their construction. In light of escalating weather conditions attributed to Global warming, there in a growing sense of fear surrounding flooding, stemming from the destructive effects it can have on the infrastructures we have built.
I designed and facilitated a workshop to create a space for people to reflect on the relationships they have with water within cities. Using a combination of flow sourced in Scotland that can be used in building, and scrap waste found floating in the river, I asked participants to assemble a small scale model of a ‘Doocot’. Essentially a community game of pigeon kidnap with the goal of capturing your neighbours birds, the Doocot community are an established collective who come together, building their own ‘habitats’ or ‘dwellings’ using found materials and actively benefit from the non-human world. This game gives these individuals a strong connection to the city as well as their competing neighbours. The aesthetic and ethos of the Doocot in this workshop thus plays with the semantics of a floating home, references Glasgow’s iconography, symbolises communities working together, aligns with the theme of habitat and exemplifies symbiosis between ‘Human’ and ‘Nature’.
As a group, participants released their creations to live on the water. Through playful interaction, this engagement session called participants to think about their relationships with water within our cities, celebrate the river, and recognise how Glasgow too may have to adapt its built infrastructures.

Souvenirs In The Making | Final Project

Using the capacity of souvenirs to carry narrative, I have designed a selection of ‘aspirational souvenirs’ that raise awareness of indigenous crafts under threat by communicating the heritage of the people and place associated with these making traditions. I have used the Fair Isle Chair to direct this line of objects. Each ‘souvenir’ carries a narrative specific to the craft history of the Fair Isle Chair; from the materials used and the processes applied to them, to the functions of each piece.

These souvenirs promote endangered crafts by allowing tourists to delight in and share the memory of witnessing artisanal making, through a medium that directly benefits the craftsman. From production to consumption, this design process shows a way that souvenirs can be used to protect craft practitioners and heritage, reinforcing the value of making by hand. Makers are influenced by community, identity and place, therefore every craft practice has a story to be told. Used as a model, this production process can be applied to protect craft practitioners and heritage, preserving making traditions for future generations.

Mutoscope showing Fair Isle Chair knotting. Craft listed by the Heritage Crafts Association as endangered.

Family of Fair Isle Chairs

The semantics of these models play with the language of the cheap souvenirs and their potential to communicate the narrative of place. The designs are modelled on sketches and photographs documented by Eve Eunson, one of the last remaining practitioners of the Fair Isle Chair making. The designs reference each chair within the Fair Isle Chair ‘family’. They sit on a piece of Shetland Wood.
Postcard communicating the narrative of the Fair Isle Chair. Highlighting makers marks and specific user needs.
Development image. Speculating the modernisation of traditional craft practices. Playing on the idea of the Scottish souvenir.
Development image. Sketchbook documentation of my research trip to Shetland.
'Souvenirs In The Making'

Fair Isle Chair Knotting