When a woodworker met a jeweller – Man Pins

  • Published: 20 Apr 2018

Entrepreneurialism, collaboration and enterprise. Our graduates are not ones to shy away from innovative and creative projects. We caught up with graduates Louise Forbes and Islay Spalding about how their seemingly different skills and professions came together in their new venture Man Pins.

My Man Pin Was A...Collection

My Man Pin Was A...Collection

Woodworker Louise Forbes graduated in Interior & Environmental Design in 2009. During her studies, she became good friends with fellow DJCAD graduate, and ultimately business partner, jeweller Sarah Spalding. Shortly after graduation, they set up Tayberry Gallery, a shop, gallery and studio which champions artists and designers who are Scottish, and locally based.

Through Sarah, Louise and Islay struck up a friendship. Once Louise’s own workshop became unviable, she moved in to Islay’s workshop in 2012 which led to the creation of a joint business venture.

Man pins are beautifully crafted wooden pins for men which can be worn as tie clips, kilt pins or on lapels. They also create cufflinks and even offer an opportunity for stag parties to create their own unique pins for the big day in a relaxed and safe workshop environment.

Louise said, “I started noticing how beautiful my spoon offcuts were and inspired by Islay's kilt pin designs. I started making wooden pins of my own to sell in Tayberry Gallery. These pins were designed to be worn as a lapel pin or kilt pin but men just weren't getting that they were designed for them, so a more obvious approach was decided and the name Man Pin was born.”

Their first collection was launched in 2014 and called the African Collection which were all made from African hardwoods. Injecting humour into their designs, they pressed “wood stats” into the back of the designs so the wearer can play top trumps with their Man Pin wearing pals.

Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength with the launch of subsequent collections Scottish, Fruit Wood and most recently, My Man Pin Was A...where each unique pin is made from various recycled objects.

For Islay, teaming up with Louise has inspired her to work more with wood and make a more affordable alternative to a silver Kilt Pin - a quirkier product with a sense of humour and an opportunity to bring pins to a more diverse group of men.

Speaking about their time at DJCAD, Louise said, “I have great memories of studying at DJCAD. I was part of a design duo, TWIG and we had a really successful degree show and even after graduating, I was designing and making furniture inspired by anthropomorphism with a comedy twist.

“I spent lots and lots of hours in the design workshop and was totally inspired by Malcolm Cheyne and Lyle McCance, they taught me so much about the making side of things. I felt like it opened my mind and taught me how to think in a more creative way.”

“We were always challenged and made to defend our designs and I feel like a lot of my integrity as a designer has come from studying at DJCAD.”

Islay added, “I came straight from school onto the General Course which I really enjoyed, getting to work in different mediums and on different projects and making friends I’ll have my whole life.”

“It was the introduction to the jewellery workshop at the end of that year that really set my mind to what I wanted to do. I was greatly inspired by the head of department at the time, Roger Morris, and part time tutor David Swift for their artistic approach to jewellery and unique styles.”

“It has lead me into specialising in bespoke jewellery where I work with customers to create kilt pins and jewellery from a wide range of inspirations and am always juggling a variety of projects at one time.”

“Studying at DJCAD helped me to think creatively about how to design in a field steeped in traditional styles.”

So what’s next for the duo? They have two new collections in the pipeline, Mini Man Pin collection and Solar System collection. Their stag party workshop remains a key focus and they will be hosting workshops throughout the Dundee Design Month in May.

For more information on Man Pins and to book a space on their upcoming workshops, please visit: www.manpins.com

“We were always challenged and made to defend our designs and I feel like a lot of my integrity as a designer has come from studying at DJCAD.”

Louise Forbes, graduate, woodworker and gallery owner.