Design Caledonia | Design Scottish

People: Q&A with Paul McGinness from McGinness Handmade

Caitlin Osborne

We caught up with Paul McGinness from McGinness handmade to find out more about his lovely wallets, designed and hand sewn in Glasgow. Find out Paul's design inspirations and is favourite place in Scotland. 

Paul McGinness is a leather goods designer based in Glasgow. Each of his products are handmade by Paul with the best quality leather

Paul McGinness is a leather goods designer based in Glasgow. Each of his products are handmade by Paul with the best quality leather

Can you tell us a bit about McGinness Handmade and where you like to work?

McGinness Handmade is a project I started around a year ago when I had time off from my day job working in television production. My job is quite hands-on when I’m on a shoot, but I spend most of my time working at a computer. I wanted to start a project working purely with my hands, where I would be responsible for the product from conception to creation. 

I work from the front room of my flat in the west end of Glasgow. I’m right on Dumbarton Road in Partick, it’s a fantastic view.

How did you get into making leather goods?

I needed a new wallet, but couldn’t find a design I liked in shops so I decided to buy some leather, learn the basics and make one myself. It’s been trial and error ever since.

What has been the most important lesson you have learned through work? 

Measure twice, cut once. Leather isn’t cheap.

Who are your design inspirations? 

I read a book called ‘Wabi-sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers’ by Leonard Koren and it really resonated with me. It’s a Japanese aesthetic philosophy about finding beauty in imperfection. 

In terms of brands, I love Albam. I’d say 85% of my wardrobe is Albam. Their clothes are timeless, beautifully minimal and very well made.

Paul uses the finest vegetable-tanned leather for each wallet

Paul uses the finest vegetable-tanned leather for each wallet

What is your most treasured possession?

My signed ‘The Thick of It’ script book. I’m a massive Armando Iannucci fan, so when I heard that him and Peter Capaldi were coming into my work I brought my script book in to get signed. They were very nice. Peter Capaldi wrote a thing called ‘Tucker’s Law’ on the inside, it’s very sweary.   

What is your favourite album to listen to whilst working? 

While I was making the last batch of wallets I listened to two Tom Waits bootlegs from the gigs he did in Edinburgh in 2008. I was at both nights and they were by far the greatest shows I’ve ever been to. 

I also listened to a 10 hour podcast about the life of Alfred Hitchcock.

Where is your favourite place in Scotland?

There’s a little coffee shop on Great Western Road called Papercup, I go there every week. 

Finally Irn Bru or Coke? 

Coke, with rum.