Buildings change perceptions. Sydney Opera House is said by leading architect Frank Gehry, to have “changed the image of an entire country”. Gehry’s own Bilbao Guggenheim museum has been, in the words of its Director Juan Ignacio Vidarte, “a tool of social transformation, and a good example of the transformational aspects of culture.”
But what of our own iconic building, V&A Dundee? It may have been calculated to bring a £75m economic boost to our city, but are we really seeing enduring business benefits at grass roots level?
As a Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art graduate and business owner leading a team of design, communications and marketing experts in the city, I can say that things have indeed changed. Working from our studio just a stone’s throw away from the V&A, it’s clear to me that there’s a new boldness, optimism and vibrancy in Dundee.
In The Malting House Design Studio we support many businesses in the tourism, hospitality and creative industries. And in the past year we have worked with more organisations in those sectors than ever before including National Trust for Scotland, Dundee Museum of Transport, Speedwell Inns, and new local businesses Little Things Cafe in Reform Street, Bowmans Coffee House in Monifieth and tour company Dundee Waterfront Walks.
Amongst our clients there is definitely a greater interest in design, in positioning businesses as stylish and contemporary. That in turn is fueling a demand for services like ours – that’s why we’ve expanded our business this year, bringing in a communications expert to help tell the stories of the blossoming Dundee business community.
I feel we’ve turned a corner in Dundee – the V&A and the wider waterfront development has generated a change in pace, a new and exciting chapter in our long commercial heritage. I can’t see that stopping any time soon. Dundee’s image has changed, its culture is transforming - and business is booming!