Designs Gallery and Cafe: Port Douglas, Scotland
In the second of our independent shop profiles, we meet Lucy Carlow of Designs Gallery and Cafe, a shop, gallery and cafe situated between the heather covered hills and sweeping coast of Port Douglas, Scotland.
A true lifestyle destination, Designs Gallery and Cafe is a place you could easily spend half a day absorbing, meandering, perusing and sipping tea. Selling Nomads in the last few years felt like a natural progression for the shop, says Lucy. The bohemian style and the ethos being the main selling point for her. “It’s so important to support workers. It’s about appreciation, seeing the value in the product.”
Like Nomads, it was travel that resulted in her starting her own business. After growing up in Melbourne, Australia, Lucy’s desire to explore the world led her first to Ireland, then to Scotland. There she fell in love with the landscape and community, while also discovering a desire to start her own business. Jewellery and craft appealed to her, the skills, aesthetic and stories entwined in the process. In 1995, Lucy founded a shop, Designs Gallery.
Situated in a period building over several levels, Designs Gallery soon became a haven for those looking for those unique pieces, individually crafted. Housing an exhibition space and shop, selling jewellery and prints with an emphasis on makers, it seemed natural that a coffee shop for guests to spend a leisurely break, soon followed. Three years ago, clothing was also added to the collection.
Although still very much with the country life at its heart with its markets, farming, hills and lochs, Lucy says that Castle Douglas has truly become a destination for visitors in the last 10 to 15 years. “There’s also a real artistic community, with the Spring Fling and other events celebrating arts and crafts”
Does she ever miss Australia? “I go back a few times a year, I have three grandchildren there, including a set of twins!
“One thing I’d like to do is visit India. I’m always en route to Australia, but I’d love to stop there and explore the textiles, the culture and landscape. I find India fascinating.”
Now Lucy is looking to add specialist food from artisan makers to Designs Gallery and Cafe's shelves. “The direction must always be flexible and open to change,” she says. “It’s important to be open-minded, we’re always looking for something that will catch our eye.”
She talks of producers of fine foods from Portugal and the mind skips to the winding, cobbled streets – delicious scents and mosaic tiles. After thinking about the blazing heat of Australia, the swathes of colourful fabric in India and the rugged landscape of Port Douglas, talking to Lucy, is a little like travelling the world. "The urge to travel never leaves you," she says.
Designs Gallery & Café,
179 King Street, Castle Douglas,
Dumfries & Galloway, DG7 1DZ