Whether it's Cinderella's glass slipper or Rapunzel's tower, the Holy Grail or the Chapel Perilous, products and buildings have always appeared in the stories we tell and listen to. And buildings are not just the sets, nor products merely the props in the stories of our lives. Sometimes they can be the heroes or the villains, the narrators or the audiences of those stories.

Buildings almost always outlive their makers; and they lead strange and wonderful afterlives, doing all sorts of things they were never designed to do. Products and objects migrate through cultures, places, and times, and their meaning changes as they are used again and again. In this sense buildings and products tell their own stories; but, more interestingly, they are also like stories, handed down from generation to generation, from place to place, altering subtly as they go. 

Neither is design itself a straightforward affair of mapping form onto function. As any designer will tell you, the process of conceiving, drawing, modelling, and making things and spaces is a tortuous journey that tells its own story.

And so design and stories might have more in common that may at first appear; Form Follows Fiction is a celebration of the sometimes strange and beautiful relationship between design and storytelling.

On three occasions in May 2007, storytellers Noel Cochrane and Marion Kenny wove stories around eight icons of Scottish design. In one tale, two icons of Scottish dress: the 'See You Jimmy' Hat and the Mary Erskine's kilt encountered the John Knox House and the modern Scottish Storytelling centre. In another, Noel Cochrane narrateed what happened when the Hillman Imp met the Scottish Parliament; while Marion Kenny explained the relationship between the Eighteenth Century Signet Library and Irn Bru.

These are stories related by professional storytellers; but the accompanying exhibition at the Scottish Storytelling Centre offered everyone the opportunity to join in. Designed by a group of Finnish, German, and Turkish students in exchange in Edinburgh, the exhibition recorded their responses to these icons of Scottish Design, and invited the public to record theirs, too. In guessing what the Irn Bru man might be doing, drawing what might be in the Signet Library, filing an expenses claim for the Scottish Parliament, retelling the story of the Storytelling Centre, drawing who was wearing the 'See You Jimmy' Hat and the Mary Erskine's kilt, or adding an entry to the drivers log in the Hillman Imp, the public contributed to a body of mythology about these objects of design and desire.

Form Follows Fiction was part of the 6 Cities festival of Design. It was a concept designed to get people -real people, that is, not designers- talking and thinking about design, old and new, sharing their memories, their expectations, and their hopes about the stuff that surrounds them.