Introducing the Isobel Wylie Hutchison Collection

A bespoke collection of innovative pieces, crafted collaboratively and with the environment in mind.

‘I made two attempts to send living specimens of Nome’s primulas to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh, the Regius Keeper there being particularly interested in this species. But though pilot Robbins took charge of these himself and hurried them off to Fairbanks by plane on the very morning they were unearthed, the journey to Scotland took over three weeks and the plants arrived dead.’

– Isobel Wylie Hutchison

On October 24th 2018 Carlowrie Castle, in partnership with the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and Craft Design House, launched an exclusive collection inspired by Isobel Wylie Hutchison’s life and legacy, realised by leading and emerging designers and makers.

Isobel was born at Carlowrie Castle, the family home built by her grandfather, in 1882 and lived at the castle (expeditions aside) for just shy of one hundred years. The Isobel Wylie Hutchison collection honours her memory, her significant contributions to geography and botany, and to the history and development of Carlowrie, through a collection of homeware and accessories, weaving her story into the fabric of the castle.

It was on the 24th October 1934 that Isobel was awarded the most prestigious accolade of her career, the RSGS’s Mungo Park Medal for an outstanding contribution to geographical knowledge. It was only fitting that her collection should be launched on this day. In recognition of the conservation and education work of the RSGS, 10% of all purchases will be donated to the RSGS. The collection is a collaboration that brings contemporary designers makers, heritage and explorer conservationists together.

Collaboration, a spirit of support and helping one another out, is at the heart of the collection as it was at the heart of Isobel’s expeditions. We are grateful to have worked with representatives of the National Museum of Scotland, the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and the Archives National Library of Scotland in our quest for objects, accounts, specimens and anecdotes that will bring Isobel’s story to life for our designers and makers, through whom Isobel’s incredible story will reach new audiences.

The Isobel Wylie Hutchison Collection pays tribute to Isobel’s life and legacy, her determination, her humour and her love and respect of the people, flora and fauna she encountered. Carlowrie Castle, once Isobel’s home, is now the home to her collection, a unique tactile and interactive trail of discovery about this most intriguing of Scottish women, and the castle’s longest inhabitant.

Isobel’s story is a timeless one of daring, of independence, of conviction and humanity and it continues to inspire those who come to know of her. She boarded ghost-ships, stared down bears and suffered for lack of sweets and treats from the ‘land o’ cakes’ (Scotland). Isobel is at once immediately relatable and totally unfathomable. It is this juxtaposition, her humanity and her surreality that make her such an engaging individual. She never fussed overly about her situation and never staked her claim with flags and fanfare. She lived quietly and considered herself only an amateur at her many pursuits, despite her manifold achievements.

Each one of the designers and makers involved in the project has found the particular aspects of Isobel’s life and experience that inspired them, whether it was her extensive botanic-specimen collecting, her compassion and desire to support communities she encountered, or the duality of her existence: daring arctic explorer and genteel Scottish lady, not even eligible to vote when she made her first few expeditions…

The collection is brought to life through handcrafted and unique works, much like those time-old crafts Isobel witnessed and treasured along her travels. Everyone involved in this ambitious project has responded with the same incredible enthusiasm.

We are at the start of our journey together and look forward to launching further talks and demonstrations as well as our Essential range early in 2019, creating accessible pieces to complement our luxury range.

Discover the Collection