Back in July, we travelled to the breath-taking Isle of Raasay which lies just off the West Coast of Scotland in the Inner Hebrides, to work with the team behind the Isle of Raasay Distillery. Not only do the team dutifully produce the delicious Isle of Raasay Single Malt and Isle of Raasay Gin (tested and approved by Team Gloam), they also operate one of the most beautifully stylish visitor centres we have ever been to.
Our mission, to create a bespoke installation along a large area of wall that flanks a staircase to act as a vibrant starting point for their popular distillery tours in a newly refurbished part of the building.
The design needed to reflect the Island landscape and its people, really connecting the two. Under the stewardship of Norman Gillies, we set about taking a blank canvas and transforming it into something that brings the energy and vibrancy of the landscape inside the walls of the visitor centre.
The creative team were inspired by the Machair habitats of the Scottish Isles and as part of the design we envisioned an Isle of Raasay distillery Machair, taking direction from not only the island’s own flora and fauna but also the raw material the distillery uses in the crafting of their spirits.
Using dried and preserved materials in a palette to reflect the Island helped keep the display feeling natural and connected with the building and its enchanting surroundings. We incorporated moss and foliage greens mixed with golden barley tones and pop of local fauna colours including mauves, brighter greens and off whites.
Inspiration was also taken from the natural layers in the surrounding landscapes, the distillery’s buildings and branding. The installation can be seen to spread across the space in sections, flowing from one material to the next, taking visitor eye’s up the stairs to the inner workings of this compact and curious distillery. This helped create a graphic element to the display and allowed us to play with colour placement.
Gloam’s commercial leader, Ange Fiske, said: “We loved the opportunity with this project to tell the story of the distillery and its place on the Island. Not only did we take our inspiration from nature and the rather wonderous surrounding, but during our initial research we discovered the works of ceramics artist Frances Priest, and her approach to layering and the way elements can connect and overlap, something we tried to apply to the composition of the display on the wall.”
“The last thing we wanted was for this to be a flat one-dimensional piece. The design undulates with different depths and heights, with the raw materials being used differently depending on their shape and scale. Barley heads were used to ‘reach out’ from the wall whereas broom and smaller flower foliage were used at a shallower depth creating interest.”
We were lucky enough to visit during the glory days of summer, and got to bask in the sunshine and enjoy the light reflecting on the water. A team of four worked for two and half long days. We enjoyed our time in amongst the building team but the sound of the nail gun still haunts us. Nothing like keeping the creatives on their toes!
If you’re planning a trip to Skye then make the final little extra push to get the ferry to Raasay. You won’t be disappointed. And if you happen to see the installation, do send us a photo and raise a dram to Island life.