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DCA Shop Designer Q&A: Charcot

#DCAshop

23 May 2017

Kirsty Stevens is the designer behind Charcot, a surface pattern design brand inspired by the neurological condition Multiple Sclerosis. After being diagnosed with the condition in 2007, Kirsty has used this as her inspiration to create a range of products that help to raise awareness and understanding of MS. Having recently been named as V&A Dundee's first Design Champion and representing Dundee at Shenzhen Design Week in China, Charcot is going from strength to strength. We're excited to be taking a selection of her jewellery, scarves and stationery to Dundee Design Festival as part of our pop-up shop, before adding her designs to our shelves in DCA Shop. We caught up with her to talk about her inspiration, design process and Dundee.


Hi Kirsty, can you tell us a little bit about how you got started in design?

I have always enjoyed art and design since I was young, and when it came to making university choices at high school I couldn’t see any other option but Art School to design and make something! I never made it straight to uni after school, which in retrospect I am glad about as I attended a portfolio course and textile design course at Dundee College which gave me a better understanding of design and confirmed I wanted to focus on a design led course once attending Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee. 

What was the inspiration behind starting Charcot?

The inspiration behind starting Charcot is to turn the ugly negative Multiple Sclerosis into a beautiful positive in an innovative and creative way to raise awareness of MS, as when I was diagnosed with it I had no idea what it was, who it affected and what it could do, even though 100,000 people in Scotland have it. Due to not knowing anything about it, many of my presumptions of the disease were completely wrong. So with using the damaging lesion shapes on my brain that are visible on my MRI scan to design prints and patterns and incorporate them with high end design and take the topic to new audiences that wouldn’t necessarily have a connection to MS.   

"When I was diagnosed with it [Multiple Sclerosis] I had no idea what it was, who it affected and what it could do..."

What does a typical day at Charcot look like?

I start my day nice and early with a coffee and maybe post a couple of social media items, that always takes longer that I think so that’s why I try and get them done at the start of the day! I then plan my day as well as I can, what needs done and what I want to get done. I would love to just design all day but there are always other important jobs to get done like admin, replying to emails and even sourcing new companies that could help produce future work! I am sure there is more to my day but these are the main points have been busy with recently! Plus there are plenty of coffee and cake or biscuits involved at intervals throughout the day along with some cuddles with Kuro the Charcot Studio cat!

We’ve spotted you working away in DCA Print Studio. How does this space help your creative process?

I love the DCA Print Studio, it’s a great space to develop my work and play about with new ideas. It has a brilliant atmosphere as well. Even though it is a hive of creativity with so many people working on different projects, using so many different design disciplines, it is extremely serene as the only sounds you can hear while working are the clunks, clicks, swooshes or buzzing from all of the different machinery in use, which I find really relaxing in an odd way and this allows me to get on with my work. I also design through making, so with being able to try out new ideas either screen printing or on the laser cutter in the print studio myself, it allows me to see what works and what doesn’t, and keeps me connected with the final Charcot products.

"I love the DCA Print Studio, it’s a great space to develop my work and play about with new ideas."

We’ll be taking a selection of your work to Dundee Design Festival as part of our pop-up shop. What are you looking forward to most about the festival?

I am so excited about being part of the DCA pop-up at Dundee Design Festival, thank you for choosing my work. I cant wait to see Charcot’s latest collection shown in such a fabulous exhibition space. 

I am really looking forward to Print City. I have heard some little bits about it and the sneak peeks that have been posted of its construction look so exciting. I also think Creative Chit Chat’s Punch In/Punch Out installation is an interesting concept, I will definitely be visiting that.


Thanks Kirsty! Come along and shop our range of Charcot designs at West Ward Works Thu 25 - Mon 29 May as part of our Dundee Design Festival pop-up shop and watch our for more of her colourful products coming to the DCA Shop shelves soon!

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