COD100: Sonja Schwaighofer’s Weblog

Posted on: 26. November 2018

MTC Dundee, Photo: mtc media

#COD100 | #UNESCOCitiesOfDesign | #CitiesofDesign | #DesigningTheWorld

See here the final report of Sonja Schwaighofer’s stay in Dundee UNESCO City of Design.

January 2019 – last update | Christmas Time, Going back to Austria

What a great Christmas time! During my last days at MTC I finished some open projects and surprisingly MTC was asking me for doing another Video interview for the new blog they’re creating with Visit Dundee right now:

On December 24, Dylan Drummond, a filmer and photographer from Dundee, was picking me up from the MTC office to do a interview at City Quay. As you might know, the 25th of December is the big festive day in UK: I was invited at Henderson’s place, the owner of Urban Quarters and we enjoyed a very delicious dinner – the Scottish way, of course. I felt very welcomed there, thank you both, Guy and Lynne! 🙂

After Christmas my family visited me. For the last time during my incredible stay here, we were invited to visit the business owners of Highland Boundary at the Kirklandbank Farm in Alyth. We saw their farm and rebuilt barns where they are doing some special flavoured spirits, like this example here! We were invited for lunch and had a wee walk around their farm. What an awesome view to highlands and lowlands of Scotland! By the way, MTC has done their excellent website and branding.

At last, friends from Graz and a very spontanious friend from Vienna (Cheers, Andy ;)) came by. We were all heading to Edinburgh to celebrate the real Scottish NYE, also known as “Hogmanay“. It’s very worth visiting the street party there; at midnight there were incredible fireworks in front of the Edinburgh castle. One of the most beautiful fireworks I’ve ever seen!

After this hilarious turn of the year, we were all heading back to Austria! For me, the time of the professional COD100 program was running by so fast! I’ve done very interesting trips around Dundee and Scotland. With all the beautiful nature, history and open-minded people, Scotland is one of the loveliest countries I’ve ever been so far. I could definitely gain a lot of work experience in Dundee only because of the COD100 program; it opened up new opportunities for further cooperations and that’s great!



Dec. 20 | Time to Say Goodbye; Weekend in Dublin

Saying goodbye after more than three months is not easy. Last Wednesday I was invited to the Christmas party of the Leisure & Culture and Creative Dundee Network. We enjoyed a splendid time at The Wine Press in Dundee and surprisingly, they got me a present of various things about Dundee – have a look at the picture below!! 🙂

I’m so grateful to had Annie Marrs as my contact person for this incredible stay here. She arranged so many things for me in an absolutely perfect manner! Huge thank you, Annie!

The days before I’ll leave Scotland I took the chance to have a wee trip to Dublin on the weekend. It was just a one-hour flight from Edinburgh to Dublin. I met a very good friend and business partner there and we had a good time with plenty of the “black stuff”.


Dec. 10 | X-mas in Dundee & Finishing my projects at mtc

The days are getting shorter and shorter; when I leave my apartment in the morning it’s still dark outside and – what a surprise – when I go home from mtc after work it’s the same again. That’s destiny living in a country very north! 🙂

However, Dundee is a very lovely city, also in Winter; I enjoy seeing all the Christmas lights here each day. You can visit a tiny Christmas market around Caird hall.

There’re not so many days left anymore until the COD100 professional program closes. Right now I’m busy finishing my last projects at mtc, e.g. for MCK construction, a builders & joiners in Montrose; for iNFINITI tracking I did their re-branding and webdesign; this business is selling high-quality tracking systems and cameras for various vehicles.


Nov. 26 | Northhop, Apex Dundee; Moving to UrbanQuarters

There are just a few weeks left until my incredible stay here in Dundee, Scotland, ends. Scotland is renowned for its craft beer breweries and there’s also an ongoing love and passion for gin; so, last week I decided to take an inside look into this scottish culture and I went with nice guys, I recently met, to North Hop.

North Hop is a festival and popup market for tasting various of new beverages and food from the Highlands. We had some great tastings at the Apex and went further to Bird & Bear and to 3 session street for the after-party. I had such a great time!

After that I had to move out of my apartment at Blackness Road and to a new one at the city center. Luckily, I got a very exquisite spot at UrbanQuarters; I now have the very best of Dundee right in front of my doorstep! Not bad! 🙂


Nov. 19 | Biome Collective, Interview ‘Evening Telegraph’

Participating in PechKucha Night Dundee last week was very enrichung for me; I received plenty of positive feedback from Dundees citizens. So, yes, I’m under the impression that my network is growing and growing!

On Tuesday this week I visited Malath Abbas at the Biome Collective; I went there to have a short lunch break at their coworking space at the Vision Building – a very nice, creative spot; I tested a prototype of a VR game called Garden. For me, it was amazing!

Lunch meeting on Wednesday: I gave Jon Brady from the Evening Telegraph, a local newspaper in Dundee, an interview about my time here in Scotland and explained why Dundee is THE perfect spot for me. After 2 months in Dundee I can say that it has a lot of advantages to be here: to explore a different country and culture, to get to know the Dundee Design network and – last but not least – to be part of MTC media; working with MTC will enrich my future work for sure and thus the work with my clients back in Austria.

Nov. 12 | PechaKucha Night Dundee

Compared to all things I’ve done here in Scotland so far, PechaKucha Night Dundee was the most challenging and at the same the time the most brilliant event. On November 6th, Pecha Kucha Night Volume 22 started; the audience was packed of at least 450 people and over 2,000 who tuned in or just watched the live streamed talks on Facebook.

For those who haven’t heard about PechaKucha Nights (short PKN), or ‘chit chat’ as the call in Japanese, here’s a very brief explanation: Klein Dytham Architecture in Tokyo developed the format back in 2003. PKNs now run all over the world in more than 1,000 cities. See #PKN_DND. The main idea is very simple: 20×20! You are allowed to use 20 images for your presentation and those images change every 20 seconds automatically; so, you simply talk along those images.

14 speakers were present that eveing and well, rather sooner than later it was me who went on stage. Right away, I felt very welcomed and was confident to speak to the audience and tell them why I’m actually here in Dundee; I told them about quite astonishing things and people back home in Graz, Styria, Austria and, of course, the COD100 program. 

I’m so grateful that I was part of this amazing event; it was a night full of interesting insights, warm moments and many laughs. Thank you so much Creative Dundee and Gillian Easson for giving me the opportunity to participate in PKN Dundee!


Nov. 5, 2018 | Guy Fawkes Night & mtc

“Remember, remember November 5th” – Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night, is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November. You may ask, why they’re actually celebrating this in UK. Well, the story behind brings us back the year 1605 BC, when Guy Fawkes, a member of a group of provincial English Catholics, and his co-conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot tried to blow up the English parliament in Westminster/London. Fortunately, their plan was thwarted and since then the English celebrate this day in honor of peace with big bonfires and brilliant fireworks. Back in 2018 BC, it was (for me) a great spectacle to see thousands of people in the Lochee park watching the fireworks.

Apart from my trips throughout Scotland, I still busy working at mtc. At the moment, there’re many different projects at Dundee Office I’m working on. Frankly, I’m glad to be involved in marketing processes; so, I’m preparing ads for Facebook funnels such as Campbells Meat. Next to this, I’m designing websites in many different ways; mtc developed their own cms system which allows us/me to build design from scratch. That’s fun! Once the design is ready, the web developers build up the website – and… voilà! For other projects wordpress is used. For me personally, it’s very interesting to be part of the process and help designing for mtc cms websites.



Oct. 28, 2018 | 71 brewery – the engineers of beers

As Dundee’s first brewery for 50 years, 71 brewery is reviving the lost art of brewing in Scotland’s fourth city. Crafting crisp lagers and seasonal beers inspired by traditional European classics and progressive new world flavours – those were the reason I and Annie Marrs from the Leisure & Culture Department in Dundee took a tour there last Saturday.

It was great fun to visit 71 brewery: It’s a former building of the Blackness iron foundry. 71 brewing replaced everything by gleaming steel vessels and clean steam power but the creative pulse the city is known for is still there. Spread over 3 floors and 27,000 sq feet, the brewery building formed a major part of the mighty Blackness iron foundry. Have you ever seen how beer gets filled into cans? Either or, watch this video! 😉


After the tour and some tastings directly from their beer tanks we had a funny evening and met some friendly folks.

Oct. 22, 2018 | UNESCO Cities of Design subnetwork meeting, Newport Restaurant by Jamie Scott

What a pleasure! As the UNESCO City Of Design subnetwork meeting took place in Dundee last week; because of this, the city welcomed guests from almost all UNESCO Cities of Design – including guests from my home city Graz. I was very happy to be invited to their evening events. And, of course, it was nice to see familiar faces from Graz again: Barbara Nußmüller from the Creative Industries StyriaAngelika Meister from City of Graz – Coordination Office and Andreas Morianz from the city of Graz, Department of Economics and Tourism.

One evening we took the bus to the Newport Restaurant by Jamie Scott. He is an award-winning chef patron and surprised us with a delicious menu of 5 courses – 2 of them were sweet courses – that’s what I liked best! 🙂 By the way, the restaurant offers a splendid view over the Tay river and you can see the Tay Road Bridge and the Firth-of-Tay-Bridge. The view opens also onto the Dundee skyline.


Oct. 15, 2018 | Interview with a local, my after work activities

Creative people work long hours in front of screens what quite often causes back and neck pain and stinging eyes. For me, it’s important to get my head off after a long working day and do some sports.

Being fit & healthy shouldn’t be just a trend. Let it be your lifestyle!

Dundee offers so many nice spots outdoors for running or hiking. My favorite workout route, for examples, goes to Dundee law. Since it’s late October already and days are getting shorter, I know that I’ve to prepare for winter. I therefore decided to become a member of Pure Gym. In their classes I met a very charismatic personal trainer named Larissa; her story how she came there impressed me.

Larissa is just 25 years old and a very smart girl. She was born in Germany but studied anatomy & forensic at Dundee University. However, she doesn’t work as a physician but does what she loves the most: Working as a personal trainer to help people on their rehabilitation or to work with them on their toughest fitness goals. I already saw it in her classes: She’s doing a great job on that! Besides that she teaches anatomy to dental, medical and science students at the Universities of Dundee and St. Andrews. Larissa is definitely a women full of power who runs her own business in Dundee!

If you wanna know the city, ask a local!

After a challenging workout I had a nice chat with Larissa. I asked her why she decided to stay in Dundee and also what she loves the most about the city: She has been living here since 2008 and still loves the people who live here. They stole her heart, she said. So, she has no plans what-so-ever to leave any time soon. She remembered arriving at the train station in Dundee when the city was totally messed up with construction sites and piles of rubble; since then, the city changed so much and Dundee became a total new city! She still enjoys running over the Tay bridge where you’ve got a stunning view at the river; she loves the beaches and the beautiful nature – by the way, Dundee is so small so that everything is reachable by foot!

Whenever you try to do some sport classes in Dundee, I highly recommend to go and visit Larissa.


Oct. 9, 2018 | Austrian projects, Brewdog, Edinburgh

Now it’s getting busy! Designing websites and online content at mtc is very enriching to me; I learn a lot by getting professional feedback from my new colleagues. What is for sure, the processes and routines aren’t compareable with my one-“woman”-business back home in Graz. There’re much more complex.

Nevertheless, I like the fact that my projects are still going on; so I do remote work for important clients in Austria; for example, I’m charge of the re-launch of the webdesign for Global Competence; Global Competence is an international company that supports big purchasing departments in the automotive industry; they do so by providing their knowledge in procurement, supplier management and SQA technology. Almost every week I’m in contact with my other client Mach & Partner ZT-GmbH. We discuss their social media activities and ads at Facebook, Xing & LinkedIn. In my opinion, to stay in close contact with clients is even more important when working remote.

Afterwork: Stylish & tasty: Last Thursday evening I visited the Brewdog bar in Dundee. Brewdog is one of the most famous craft beer brand with various kinds of beers. MTC did their webdesign & web development. Mtc is very proud of that because the website is as good a the taste of Brewdogs: Brilliant and unique!

Thousands Scottish on the streets in Edinburgh: Friends from Vienna visited Edinburgh last weekend; so I took the chance to meet them in person, got on the train to Edinburg and spent one day with them. Right in Edinburgh I found myself in the middle of a demonstration. Many Scottish were dressed up in their kilts or carrying the scottish flag to demonstrate what they want for their country: Independence!

All in all, Edinburgh is – you know it already – worth visiting. I enjoyed another stunning day in Scotland with nice spots, good drinks and a funny night out. By the way, who said that it’s raining here all the time?! 😉



Oct. 1, 2018 | From Dundee to St. Andrews and back again

V&A – Ocean Liners: Two weeks ago the new Scottish design museum – the V&A – opened its doors. On weekends there are still people queuing in front of the museum to get in and visit both building and galleries. It’s amazing to see so many interested people in design!

As I entered the exhibition of the Ocean Liners, I catched the sight of the modell Queen Mary 2 at the first hall. The exhibition shows the best of the international design and engineering of the luxuriest Ocean Liners all over the world. The french “Normandie” impressed me the most because of the glamorous interior. It’s very worth seeing it!

St. Andrews: The home of Golf: Only 20 minutes by car from Dundee there’s St. Andrews: A breathtakingly beautiful Scottish town, located northeast of Edinburgh on the east coast of the country. St. Andrews is famous for the numerous golf courses, including the Old Course with the famous Swilcan Bridge at the 18th hole. I was there on a sunny day, not for playing Golf but to have good food and a short walk on the sandy beach and, of course, to get the popular image on the bridge! 🙂



Sep. 24, 2018 | Visit of Agency Of None – Design studio of Lyall & Ryan

Last week I visited Lyall Bruce and Ryan McLeod at the Agency Of None in Dundee. It’s an amazing creative space, which is shared with their partners as a co-working space; once you entered the space, you can ‘smell’ that there is a lot going on there… One of the designs they invented is 71 brewing in Dundee (As Dundee’s first brewery for 50 years, 71 is reviving the lost art of brewing in Scotland’s fourth city.). They did the graphic design, branding and packaging; and at least the custom tap design for the 71 brewing is to find in the new V&A Dundee Tatha restaurant and bar.

Besides their studio Ryan runs a weekly podcast; he interviews creatives around Dundee; his podcast is called ‘creative chit chat’. He’s picking the brains of brilliant creatives working in and around Dundee. New episodes are released every Wednesday – follow this link & listen!

Lyall and Ryan both agree that they love to live and work in Dundee; it’s a great common place and a lot of things are going on here, e.g. the city became home to a dynamic digital media industry and creative industry in the last years. As far as I can tell from the experiences I have made so far, yes, I agree. Dundee is definitely a great city to live and work!


Sep. 17, 2018 | Exploring Scotland

@MTC, EDI office: On Thursday Euan took me to the MTC office in Edinburgh and I met the design & marketing team there; the office is located in the north of Edinburgh – that’s very close to the harbor.

V&A opening: On Friday was the grand opening of the V&A Scotland. I went there to the festival area at Slessors Garden. “Primal scream” was the headliner on the stage. After they finished their gig a fireworks started next to the V&A. On the V&A building was a stunning light show. Cu next week!

Broughty Ferry: A pleasant place to be! It wasn’t the best weather for a walk on the beach but I did it anyway: On Sunday I went to Broughty Ferry, a small suburb of Dundee, to see all – >castle, beach and village. After a coffee in a nice-looking restaurant I headed back to my apartment. Euan from MTC was picking me up for a dinner at his place. It was an enjoyable evening with his family and kids.


Video: Back from Broughty Ferry to the center of Dundee



Sep. 10, 2018 | Initial tasks, new people and first trip into the highlands

As already said I’m working as a digital designer at mtc media that provides expertise to deliver web solutions to clients in a wide range of sectors; I’m in charge of design projects in the food and beverages industry for the first time. It’s quite interesting for me to start with my first web-project for a start-up brewery faraway in China. In addition to their wide range of clients, mtc has another very smart business running: the hungrrr app. This app provides restaurants and smaller food delivery services to get their own multi-professional web-solutions. Consumer can order their food very quickly – so you won’t stay hungry for long.

Besides work, I was with Annie Marrs, Project Coordinator UNESCO City Of Design & Place Partnership Programme at Leisure and Culture Dundee, at This Much We Know, Now and we listened to keynotes e.g from Mike Dailly, the founder of GTA & Lemmings or to Stewart Murdoch, Director for Leisure and Culture at the Dundee City Council. Also other people involved in shaping Dundee into the one city all know today spoke about their own experiences, the highs and lows, and how they came to love the city.


Trip into the Highlands

I’m so grateful! On my very first weekend, Blair from mtc picked me up on Sunday morning and we went on a road trip to the highlands. As it is typical for the Scotland, the weather was changing all the time! We enjoyed the sun and of course some rain but also amazing rainbows in a very beautiful landscape – I was really impressed! On the road to Glenfinnan we stopped at a wiskey distillery called The Dalwhinnie Distillery. We took a tour through the distillery and had a taste of Scottish single malt. Amazing for me because I really love well-served whiskey! 😉

After lunch we went further to Glenfinnan; it’s a small village in the Scottish highlands in the northern part of Lock Shiel. Here we could see the “Harry Potter Bridge” aka the Glennfinnan Viadukt. It’s a stunning spot to visit – not just for movie fans! We had a short hike around the viaduct before we headed back to Dundee.


Sep. 4, 2018 | Exploring Dundee, starting work at mtc media

How exciting!!! I’m given a scholarship by the City of Graz which allows me to work and live 100 days in Dundee UNESCO City of Design. This very day is my first work day at MTC Media – it s actually one of Scotland’s fastest growing web development companies and I am very proud to work for them as a digital designer; I will support the team at the headquarter here in Dundee which is located on “City Quay” – on the opposite site of the historic ship. Can’t wait the work to begin!



Besides my work for mtc, I’ll try to see and explore as much of Dundee as possible. As I arrived a couple of days before starting work – on Saturday, Sep. 1st  -, I got the chance to walk through the city a little; my first impression of the city was more than positiv: what a city! In the picture below which shows a penguin in warning vest you can see the V&A Museum of Design Dundee in the background; this museum will officially be opened on Sep, 15 – which is next week. Can’t wait to visit the museum! Speaking about Maggie’s penguin parade again, you can see them throughout the city; it’s an exhibition showing 80 penguins which are scattered across the city.

I’ll keep you informed about my work and life here in Dundee UNESCO City of Design. So, stay tuned and follow my progress!


About Sonja Schwaighofer

Sonja is head of GREATVIBES,at, a webdesign & online marketing agency located in Graz, Austria. By a creative collective GREATVIBES helps technicians and engineers to get more power on digital channels. Learn more about GREATVIBES.AT at facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.



About MTC

Formed in 1999, and based in Edinburgh and Dundee, mtc offers a completely rounded web design and development service. The company provides the expertise and know-how to deliver web solutions to clients across a wide range of sectors. From branding, website development, eCommerce, content management systems and intranets, to search engine optimisation and email marketing.