Archaeology Meets Design: Creating The Wander Collection

IMG_0403Archaeology meets design in an innovative new collaboration pushing the boundaries of the archaeological map.

Designer Kirsteen Stewart launched The Wander Collection earlier this year in collaboration with Archaeologist Dan Lee at the Archaeology Institute at the University of the Highlands & Islands.

Finding connections in their approaches, Dan and Kirsteen decided to develop a new creative process which combined aspects of archaeological landscape survey and walking, with their references to place, material and time. These were transformed into new forms of digital maps which formed the design basis for a new range of clothing and accessories. Dan has recently been exploring the potential for experimental mappings in archaeology and has developed new innovative ways of combining walks, performance and landscape using handheld GPS (Global Positioning System) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Together, they decided to push the archaeological map and design process in new directions.


Kirsteen carried a small GPS receiver in her handbag whilst going about her daily routine throughout Orkney’s coasts and islands; from going to work in the studio and doing the daily post office run to dropping the car at the garage or running an errand for the farm at the local Auction Mart.  In this way Kirsteen’s journey through her day was recorded with the GPS receiver – a small device that is used in archaeology to locate the locations of  sites and features in the landscape. At the same time, other places were referenced with additional GPS receiver creating multiple sets of data.

Experimental map made by combining GPS data from a walk

Dan took the all data from these walks and performances and transformed them into experimental digital maps, in the form of line drawings. Whilst the original walks and movements are recognisable in the resulting map, combining the data often resulted in unexpected outcomes and patterns; all embraced by the creative process.

Kirsteen took these maps and combined the simple linear shapes with elemental colours, both inspired by the island landscape the daily paths we take throughout Orkney. This process came together to form The Wander Collection.

Check out the finished designs on Wander Collection look book website.

Their collaboration is still developing, exploring innovative creative processes using design and archaeology. The UHI Archaeology Institute continues to develop strong links with the business sector in Orkney with collaborations with Ola Gorie and Ortak Jewellery.