Emer Dobson was selected as one of five students in her year group to create a design for V&A Dundee based on 1960s fashion designer Mary Quant and what she might do now if she were still working in fashion.
Textile design student Emer Dobson is about to join her boyfriend in being catapulted into the media spotlight, thanks to her design for the upcoming Mary Quant exhibition at V&A Dundee. Originally from Belfast, Emer is in her third year at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design at the University of Dundee.
Emer’s concept centres on supermarkets and sustainability. She said, “I tried to think about how the last 60 years would have changed Mary Quant’s design process, her aesthetic and her ethos. The main thing I got from my research was that she wanted to design for everyone, but that she was also forward-thinking and quite a revolutionary.
“There was an element of me wanting to change high end fashion into sustainable fashion, rather than the sort of circular fashion economy we are in currently. So I looked at mass production and used the supermarket as my visual source, and the onslaught of advertising and bright colours. I used that as a starting place to critique mass production. I think Mary Quant probably would have had a similar take on things.
“Every time I had an idea I thought, ‘what would Mary do?’. It helped me stay focused on the brief and get back into what Mary’s headspace might have been like now. I think she’d be annoyed by all of this, I think she would want sustainability.”
Despite her apparent ease at finding her concept, Emer couldn’t believe it when she was told she’d been selected as one of five students to design for V&A Dundee.
“Honestly, I thought I was dreaming! The V&A is this new iconic building, not just in Dundee but in the entire country. Being chosen didn’t make any sense to me but it was really exciting, and when the V&A team came to talk to us it got very real.
“We did a different project last year in which we used the building as a drawing source, and because we spent so much time there we all said how lovely it would be if one day we had our designs in the museum. All of us had that ‘one day maybe we could be in here’ thought process. And then we were actually given the opportunity and it was very surreal. We’d all dreamt of it.”
Emer’s boyfriend Ryan Davren is also a designer. He graduated from DJCAD last year and has seen great success with his label Flat White, a sustainable and stylish range of glasses made from coffee grounds. Ryan and his work have been profiled by The Times and Radio Scotland, among others.
The stylish duo hope to move to Ryan’s hometown of Glasgow after Emer’s graduation next year, with hopes to one day open their own independent, sustainable fashion shop in Scotland.