Case Study

Tsarina Imperial Dacha


University of Strathclyde


Construction Support


Dumfries & Galloway

Tsarina Imperial Dacha, launched in 2007, is the only company in the UK that designs and manufactures real log cabins and homes from solid round logs.

Managing Director Michael Dutton uses sustainable grown Scottish timber and traditional techniques learned when he lived and worked in the Arctic Circle as a soldier and also in Russia where he lived for several years after leaving the Army.

Although the core business is the design and manufacture of log cabins and log homes, the company has expanded its range of products and uses different parts of the timber to create everything from garden furniture, children’s play equipment and hot tubs to decking boards, telegraph poles, bridges, fencing and even solid wood sailing masts.


To complement and protect their existing timber products Tsarina developed a range of natural preservatives from natural oils which they engineered to protect the wood, highlight the products’ natural aesthetics and also act as a fire retardant.

Before they could market and sell these new preservatives, however, they needed to demonstrate their efficiency and performance.

Unfortunately Tsarina lacked the necessary in-house expertise and needed access to industry standard equipment and techniques to test the new wood preservative.


Tsarina approached Mari Findlay Rural Project Executive at Interface to find out if academia could provide a solution.

Mari worked with Michael to understand the project objectives, translating the initial brief to make it relevant and appealing to an academic audience.

Mari Findlay explains, “With established connections in each of Scotland’s Universities and Research Institutions Interface are able to identify the most applicable expertise, the most relevant facilities and, in doing so, find the most suitable solutions for any number of business challenges.”

“Our service is free and impartial and can save businesses a huge amount of time and money when searching for academic support. We work with hundreds of businesses each year supporting them through their project and helping them to achieve their project aims and objectives.”

Tsarina received a number of responses from their initial search but decided that Dr John Liggat at the University of Strathclyde was able to provide the most suitable solution.

Dr Liggat is a leader in the field of polymer durability and fire response with a proven track of responding to industrial challenges in the chemical manufacturing arena and his experience and expertise proved an ideal fit for Tsarina.

Having met with Tsarina and exploring the project in more detail Dr Liggat performed a scientifically controlled study where Tsarina wood samples, alongside samples from two international market leaders, were subjected to an accelerated aging process which mimicked solar irradiation and water inundation within a controlled laboratory setting. Where Tsarina’s sample passed the tests, the comparative samples failed and although Dr Liggat is still in the process of compiling a full report of his findings it is already evident that Tsarina’s wood preservatives have far exceeded all expectations.


Dr Liggat and Tsarina are already planning the fire testing stage of the project and if successful it will mean that Tsarina will have developed the world’s first single wood preservative and fire retardant made completely from natural ingredients and oils.

Michael Dutton, Managing Director at Tsarina said “Interface opened the doors to academia giving us at Tsarina a unique opportunity to test our products with industry experts. This has not only allowed us to legitimise the unique properties of our preservatives but it has also proved to be extremely time and cost effective – ideal for a small business like ours.”

“Our company has already received huge benefits from this partnership and there are plenty of other opportunities; we’re already planning the fire testing stage with Dr Liggat but the University have also suggested that we start a student project with the Marketing School allowing students to assist in getting the product to market.”

Tsarina are now actively seeking manufacturers who would be interested in licensing these preservatives, and Michael believes that the revenues from this could be used to grow the company further, increasing staff levels and production capabilities.

For more information on Tsarina Imperial Dacha, to see their products or to contact Michael please visit

The company has a strong environmental and sustainability policy and ensures that every part of the tree is used, resulting in zero waste.  Even the grindings from the trees goes as cattle bedding which is then recycled back into the land as fertiliser.

It has been Michael’s aim to create local employment opportunities for others within his business as it grows, and to also train others in the art and skills of Log Building, a very unique and skilled profession which is known as a Log Smith.

Working through Interface and with the University of Strathclyde is helping this to happen much faster than would have otherwise been possible.