Architecture student, Ruth Hamilton, is among a select group of six young designers in the running to design Scotland’s first ever Baby Box. In this short article, she tells us why she entered the national competition, and of how her concept for a modern interpretation of tartan could enable families to weave their own stories and patterns on their baby’s keepsake.

From next summer onwards, every new born child in Scotland will receive a Baby Box full of clothes, bedding, books and care items from the Scottish Government.

The competition to design the Box was organised by V&A Museum of Design Dundee and received over 70 applications from university and college students across Scotland.

Ruth Hamilton, who is currently in her fourth year of the Architecture - MA (Hons) programme at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), heard about the competition from her mum, who had spotted an advert in a local newspaper in Ullapool.

Having read about the Baby Box initiative, Ruth says “the notion of being involved in a scheme aiming to promote equality from the very beginning of every child’s life” was important to her, “as well as the potential of having something I designed in tens of thousands of homes across the country”.

Bold and inspirational designs for an enduring part of families’ lives

The competition brief asked for a beautiful, inspiring design for the box which would enable families to interact with the pattern in some way, for example by customising it to record key stages in a baby’s first year.

Announcing the shortlist in early December, Mark McDonald MSP, Minister for Childcare and Early Years, explained “We want Scotland’s Baby Boxes to become a key and enduring part of the lives of parents and children, so the design needs to be bold and inspirational. The designs we have seen so far definitely achieve this.”

Talking about her shortlisted entry, Ruth says “Traditionally, each clan or family in Scotland is represented by a tartan.  The origin of my design was for a modern interpretation of tartan that could be customised to represent the variety of individual families in Scotland and record memories of a baby’s early years; effectively weaving their own story and resultant pattern. 

The brief asked that the design draw inspiration from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, so every band of colour and the associated imagery references one of these, such as the right to a family, or to play”.

The shortlisted students will receive feedback from the expert judging panel to develop a final submission for mid-January 2017. The winning student will receive a prize of £1,000 and exclusive mentoring from leading Scottish designers Holly Fulton (ECA Fashion alumnus) and Scott Jarvie. Their design will be put into production, and rolled out on every Baby Box made between summer 2017 and April 2019. We wish Ruth all the best with the next phase.