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The Six Cities Design Festival, Scotland's first nationwide celebration of design, begins on May 17, with major exhibitions opening across the country in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow, Dundee and Stirling.

The festival, which runs for three weeks, aims to highlight the importance that design plays in every aspect of our lives - from the buildings that we live, learn and work in, to the clothes that we wear, the furniture we use, and the equipment we need for household, business and leisure purposes.

Exhibitions featuring everything from igloos to iPods will focus on international design, the input that Scottish design has had at home and abroad, and the continuing need to support design learning in every sector of education.

Glasgow-based textile company Timorous Beasties, which recently achieved international recognition with its reworking of a traditional French fabric design, has co-ordinated the festival's exhibition at Dundee Contemporary Arts. Peacocks Among the Ruins shows how designers from the 18th century to the present day have used the natural world as inspiration for home furnishings.

At the City Art Centre in Edinburgh, Living in Motion features dozens of historical and contemporary examples of portable shelters and multi-purpose furniture and equipment, including a prefabricated house that was designed for refugees in 1939, a miniature igloo and a plastic jacket that turns into a tent.

At the Lighthouse in Glasgow - where the Six Cities Design Festival is being co-ordinated - The Scottish Show 07 focuses on the work of more than 30 contemporary Scottish designers who specialise in sectors such as jewellery, illustration, fashion, ceramics and furniture.

For information on all the exhibitions in the festival, as well as details of schools' workshops and other events, visit the website: l

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