Scotland Can Make It!

Glasgow studio Graphical House has designed visual identities for two cultural initiatives launched to commemmorate the Commonwealth Games – one celebrating Scottish manufacturing and design, and another reflecting on Glasgow’s relationship with the slave trade…

Glasgow studio Graphical House has designed visual identities for two cultural initiatives launched to commemmorate the Commonwealth Games – one celebrating Scottish manufacturing and design, and another reflecting on Glasgow’s relationship with the slave trade…

The projects are part of Glasgow’s 2014 Cultural Programme, organised by Creative Scotland, Glasgow Life and the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee. The first, Scotland Can Make It!, is a collection of six souvenirs designed and manufactured in Scotland and curated by local organisation Panel.

The collection includes a pair of geometric scarves by weave designer Angharad McLaren, graphic designer Emlyn Firth and knitwear company Johnstons of Elgin; an Art Deco inspired jelly mould by Katy West and Highland Stoneware, tea towels by West and Glasgow School of Art and a trio of Tunnocks Teacakes repackaged in bronze, silver and gold foil designed by Claire Duffy:

Items are on sale at the Scotland Can Make It! shop on Glasgow’s Osborne Street and craft centres around the country, as well as on Scotland Can Make It!’s website. Objects were selected following a national competition, and Panel says they reflect Scotland’s “rich, dynamic and imaginative cultural landscape.”

Graphical House was asked to create a visual identity for Scotland Can Make It! around two years ago. It has since designed a website, stationery and merchandise, as well as a catalogue documenting how each product was made and graphics for both the shop and a Scotland Can Make It! exhibition.

The logo features the project’s name inside a hexagon, a nod to the six items in the collection, and the symbol is accompanied by a hexagonal wreath which has been used to create graphic patterns for print materials:

“The wreath…references the graphic language of sporting events,” explains Graphical House director Gabriel Durnan. “We wanted to create an identity that would represent craft and manufacture, functioning like a makers mark. The modular parts of the identity sitting together or apart offered a flexibility across the different materials and objects. We also felt that a roundel was the best way of dealing with the length of title,” he adds.

Graphical House also worked with product designers to create a logo for each souvenir in the collection. The studio commissioned filmmaker Mark Huskissan to create a 30 minute film about the project and has teamed up with whisky brand Dewars to create a limited edition Scotland Can Make It! Scotch.


It’s an elegant identity, and the wreath and use of gold throughout offer a contemporary take on traditional sporting iconography. While products are inspired by Scotland’s architecture, design and manufacturing heritage, the identity avoids the use of flags, tartan or any cliched imagery associated with the country. “We wanted to avoid cliché, nationalism and usual kitsch associated with souvenirs and sporting events – for us, this was the whole point of the project,” adds Durnan.



The Empire Café

Graphical House also designed the branding for The Empire Café, a project exploring Glasgow’s relationship with the North Atlantic Slave Trade. Housed in The Briggait building in Glasgow’s Merchant City, the café is open until this weekend and serves food combining Scottish produce with fair trade ingredients. It has also hosted screenings, talks and workshops reflecting on colonialism.

Graphical House’s ship-inspired logo for the venue has been used on chairs, tables, plates and signage, accompanied by sans typeface Trade Gothic Next. The studio has also created a limited edition poster which alludes to the human cost of slavery, with a pink background inspired by old maps of the Empire.

“Historically, much of Glasgow’s wealth came from the tobacco and sugar trade built on the backs of slaves, with a large numbers of Scots families having owned or managed plantations,” explains Durnan. “The Empire Café reflects on this darker side of the links that have brought people to Glasgow to celebrate the Commonwealth Games,” he adds.

The print is displayed in the cafe and is also available to buy at Graphical House’s website, with proceeds going to Anti Slavery International. For details of the project and related events, see

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