January 9, 2019

Talks at the Lane were delighted to welcome Custom Lane residents STUDIO NIRO to share an insight into their practice, process and recent works.

Listen to the talk here:


STUDIO NIRO is a multidisciplinary design practice established by Nicky Thomson and Rowan Mackinnon-Pryde in 2018. Coming from a background in architecture, Nicky and Rowan founded the practice with the ambition to expand the field of disciplines and mediums across which they work, be this a building in a landscape, an object in a room or an image on a page. Their talk was accompanied by an exhibition showcasing the practice’s design methodology, ‘among other things’.


‘among other things’ develops the conceptual thinking behind a series of completed works and works in progress in order to re-capture and re-present the essential intention of each project. These explorations transcend the original projects to become compositions in their own right. The work displayed was non-material and non-functional, however, through further development, the artefacts can become useful, each one related conceptually and programatically to the original project, whilst simultaneously existing as an autonomous thing.


The talk was divided into three parts, with sharing of shortbread and whiskey taking place during the breaks. This was reflective of STUDIO NIRO’s recent design and production of Handsel for the British Council Scotland, the gift given to international visitors.


Whilst sipping on a wee dram, Nicky and Rowan explained the concept behind the project. Handsel is defined as a gift given to mark an occasion, with idea of bringing good-luck to the recipient. The design is composed of three elements: the vessel, the foot and the measure, each of which refers to the Scottish custom of First Footing, the traditional offerings made at Hogmanay. The First Foot arrives as a mark of the New Year bringing a coin for prosperity, coal for warmth and a dram to be shared with friends.


From the Scottish quaich to the Japanese tea ceremony, the act of sharing a drink is relevant to many cultures. It is symbolic of equality: a democratic levelling; and recognises a shared occasion. The gesture of giving the Handsel is therefore more than a simple souvenir: it provides an opportunity for a shared moment and a meeting of two cultures.

The evening concluded with a lively discussion period, including questions around the topic of why and how we design. We want to extend our thanks to Nicky and Rowan and all of our guests for contributing to such a thought provoking evening.

This event signals the continuation of a full programme from Talks at the Lane; their guests for 2019 include Clancy Moore Architects, Assemble Studio, Karl-Heinz Schmitz, IF_DO Architects, Sebastian Cox & Graux Baeyens Architects.

You can read more about Talks at the Lane and see their full Season One programme here.