A pair of Scotsmen reinterprets the traditional shrine for modern-day living


The Shrines Collection

Scottish-born designers Dean Brown and Callum Brown have created the Shrines Collection, a modern interpretation of the traditional commemorative shrine. Inspired by the iconography and character of these traditional objects, the pair joined forces with Glasgow-based creative agency Goodd Ltd. and UK-based art director Namyoung An to create a "micro-furniture" series that invites users to incorporate and venerate objects of personal significance—a book, a flower, a bottle of scotch—in everyday rituals. We sat down with Dean Brown to learn more about the thoughtful and eye-catching series.

Shrine Cabinet Shrine Cabinet

Shrine Vase Shrine Vase

AC: What was the rationale behind the Shrines Collection?

DB: The Shrines Collection adheres to the notion of caring about a few special items, to present as much as to store. The eclectic mix of materials and colors reflects the cultural vibrancy of the many kinds of traditional shrines—using painted motifs, light, and hidden space to achieve a sense of hierarchy and reverence. Keeping to tradition, the situational space and the contents of the Shrines play equally important roles.

AC: Please explain the notion of rituals as it relates to Shrines.

DB: We were interested in the changing role of domestic storage in response to digital content. As more of our books, music, and photographs disappear from our living rooms and into our computers, the role of home storage seems to be more about curating and presenting than of space-efficient archiving and organizing. We challenged ourselves to design specific pieces that pushed this idea a little further and made room for a bit of showing off.

Shrine Shelf Shrine Shelf

Shrine Mirror Shrine Mirror

AC: Tell us about your material and color selection.

DB: In tribute to the traditional Shrines of the world, we wanted to use an eclectic and vibrant mix of textures and colors. In search of this diversity, the oak wood joinery and hand painting were done in Scotland, whilst the free blown glass and lacquered steel components were made in Veneto, Italy. The painted motifs, designed by Namyoung An, are a bold, flattened interpretation of traditional shrine decorations ­where the recurring circle attempts to frame or draw attention to the contents.

AC: What sort of impact do you hope the Shrines make on end-­users and their spaces?

DB: In a way, the Shrines are designed to be only half finished. They are platforms, alcoves, and surfaces to be occupied with someone's beloved possessions. We would like to think that through use, they will take on new meanings for each person—beyond the scope of what we supposed they were designed for.

*All images courtesy of Dean Brown. 

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