Issue 219
Winter 2021/2022


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Nov 27, 2021

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ArtWork Newspaper Issue 219
Winter 2021/2022 (6.02MB)

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Fair exchange for makers

THE SCOTTISH Design Exchange (SDX), Edinburgh's leading social enterprise gallery and retail outlet for artists and makers, is on the move. Located originally in Edinburgh's Ocean Terminal in Leith before moving to the city centre, the enterprise has now found its new home in the former Church of Scotland bookshop on George Street.

Founded in 2015, the Scottish Design Exchange came about after Borderer Lynzi Leroy (pictured) noted all the empty shops on the High Street. following the 2008 recession.

"Seeing all the empty shops I thought there were better ways to share space. Also from going to France a lot to visit family, I could see that there was always local art available in every region, but nowhere in Scotland where you could find local art that was affordable".

So with her own money and a lot of determination, SDX was launched with 30 artists at Edinburgh's Ocean Terminal retail centre.

"I wanted to help artists and designers based in Scotland sell their work from a high footfall store. The concept was to provide the artists with an affordable space, which they would pay a monthly rental fee for, then keep a hundred per cent of what they sell. We started with 30 artists and now support over 300 artists and designers from our two stores in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

"I wanted the Scottish Design Exchange to be a social enterprise project, and it was set up to help and support artists, not to profit from them. I am really proud of what we have achieved, having sold over £ 3.5m worth of products since we launched, all of which has gone direct to the makers".

SDX moved to George Street in Edinburgh city centre after the first Covid lockdown. Lynzi says:

"We took on the old Laura Ashley unit on a short term lease and business has been really good, but not what it would have been pre-Covid. Last year, restrictions on people travelling into Edinburgh before Christmas certainly impacted sales and we are hoping our sales increase this year with Christmas events planned for the city centre".

The exchange's business development manager, Graeme Murdoch, states:

"Moving to George Street gave us the opportunity to finally be in the heart of Edinburgh's City and give our wonderful community of artists and designers the chance to compete against the regular, same old brands we see in every city.

"Selling unique and authentic Scottish products by some of Scotland's most beautifully creative artists and designers is an experience that is lacking from many high streets and we are all too glad to provide it. Moving again, our new premises on George Street gives the chance to build on the success we've experienced!

"SDX has grown in leaps and bounds since moving to George Street and much of that has to do with our determination to survive the pandemic to ensure that the 300 hundred artists and designers who sell through SDX continue to have a steady source of income".

With restrictions easing and travel slowly resuming, Lynzi is positive about the future.

"It's been great to see the slow return of tourists and locals to the city centre and the feedback we've had from customers has been incredible. There is nothing like SDX in the city centre and it's great to be able to promote the work of over 150 artists and designers from Scotland, who make truly unique products.

"I do think Covid has had an impact on people buying locally-made products and also thinking of the sustainability of the products they buy. Our customers love that they can buy just about everything they want for their home, from our store, made by local makers. We really are much more than a gallery and very far from the tartan tat shops you see all over town.

"Edinburgh city centre needs more independent stores. Locals want to feel the city is for them and not just for tourists. I would like to see the independent stores that are currently in the city centre work together and shout out loud about what they do. I have just recently joined the board of Essential Edinburgh and I hope to use my time to help bring local independent stores together".

And the future for SDX?"SDX has a really strong future ahead", says Lynzi."Our new premises are at 117-119 George Street, and we're really excited as it has five huge glass windows at street level, allowing us to create a beautiful frontage to promote all the fantastic products we have in store. The new store also allows wheelchair access.

"We need to get through to next summer to see a real recovery from the impact Covid has had on all business, but I am really proud of my team for working so hard to keep SDX going through such hard times. We are in a great place and we are looking at opening new stores throughout Scotland in the new year".

FRANCES ANDERSON
Scottish Design Exchange,
117-119 George Street,
Edinburgh EH2 4JN
www.scottishdesignexchange.com


THE NEW BOOK OFFER

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THE NEW SCOTLAND STATIONS

New Scotland Stations
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