10 Irish Product Designers You Should Know
One of Ireland’s most well-known exports, Orla Kiely’s iconic prints are inspired by natural landscapes and the seasons, and can be found on Kiely crockery, glassware, prints and more. Although she began her career as a milliner, Kiely moved onto designing homeware later in her career and, most recently, cars. Never afraid to bring her pattern-heavy aesthetic to bear on apparently functional products, she also designed a refillable water bottle called the ‘Wottle’, which is a collaboration with the water filter company Brita. The bottle features her green-stem design and is made from high-density polyethylene, a recyclable plastic material. Although originally from Ireland, she now operates from a studio in Clapham, South London.
Locker 13 is a furniture design collaboration between designers Karl Medcalf and Shane Wilson. Close friends from childhood, they have a shared passion for original design and innovative use of materials. The Locker 13 studio and workshop is based in Dublin, in The Malthouse Design Centre on the North Circular Road, which has grown to become a real design hub within Ireland. The Locker 13 philosophy looks to bridge the gap between high-end furniture and warehouse-style furniture ‘supermarkets’, creating clever, desirable and affordable furniture that has a applicable function as well as fantastic design.
Irish Handmade Glass company
Coming from a long line of glass blowers, the founders of the Irish Handmade Glass Company have their roots in the glass industry as their fathers were master craftsmen at the famous Waterford Crystal factory. After the factory closed in 2009, the founders were determined that the ancient art of glassblowing would not die out and formed their new company in the heart of Waterford City. Producing 100% mouth-blown and hand-cut crystal, and specializing in colored hand-cut crystal the Irish Handmade Glass Company has quickly become one of Ireland’s leading crystal manufacturers, garnering praise from the likes of The Times and Financial Times.
Working from his studio in Glenealy, James Carroll, the designer behind Stickman, has taken inspiration from the rugged landscape around his studio and creates unique wood furniture to last a lifetime. Carroll has been working with the medium for over twenty years, time he has spent creating furniture that he hopes will be appreciated as an organic entity in people’s homes. Often, Carroll uses previously used or mass-produced items in his design, in the hope that they can find a rejuvenated function in the home. He also uses a practice known as ‘green woodworking’ in his craft, which aims to harness the strength of wood to create products that share characteristics of the living tree.
Heading up the team at Stonechat Jewellers, Ann Chapman never actually intended to go into metalwork or jewellery design, but while studying for her degree in European Studies in France, she fell for the craftsmanship behind the boutique jewelry stores of Paris. Fueled by her desire to be able to create such intricate items herself she returned to Dublin to undertake a course at the National College of Art and Design, after which she won a place on the prestigious Crafts Council of Ireland goldsmithing course at Kilkenny. The fine jewellery that Chapman and the team at Stonechat produce is both personal (each piece comes with information about how the jewellery was made and who handcrafted it), and doesn’t compromise on quality, with the metal used not being hollowed out and stones sourced carefully.
Artomatix fuses artistic creativity with technology by building an artificial intelligence system designed to speed up and undercut pricing for the artistic processes of video game and film production, which are currently extremely costly. With 20 years of research backing the technology behind the product, at its core Artomatix works by example: you give the program a piece of art you like, it learns it and then produces more by using the original example as a template. The founders behind Artomatix, Neil O’Gorman and Eric Risser, hope to release a standalone application that will sit alongside the likes of Adobe Photoshop and are currently raising money via crowdfunding to take their product to the next level.
Born in New York and educated in both the USA and Ireland, Kathleen Moroney is a ceramic artist and sculptor based in County Clare, Ireland, since 2006. With public art installations all over the world, she focuses on creating site-specific installations that reflect the existing architecture and history of a location. Recently Moroney created a light installation for Augsburg College featuring light porcelain globes descending at various levels from floor to ceiling, the layout of which is inspired by the flow of water. Hourglass globes hang from the ceiling, intended to lead the viewer into contemplative thought on the passage of time.
Although Andrew Clancy and Colm Moore, who set up Clancy Moore Architects in 2007, set out to design large public and domestic spaces, they gained a cult following on their ‘Strand Lamp’ design. Inspired by figures in William Orpen’s painting ‘The Holy Well’, the lamp features an inclined cowl made of a single sheet of hand-spun copper, held together by a single strand of brass. Made in Portadown, like many of Clancy Moore’s products, the Strand Lamp harks back to a shared Irish culture while simultaneously looking to the future of functional yet beautiful design.
Cóilin Ó Dubhghaill
Although now predominantly based in Sheffield, previously with a workshop in Kilkenny in Ireland, Cóilin Ó Dubhghaill has traveled across the world, working in Tokyo, India, the Philippines and the UK to hone his craft as a silversmith. Ó Dubhghaill’s work is particularly focused on the intersection between the color and pattern, and the form and construction of his creations is largely driven by research he has carried out as part of doctoral studies on special alloys and patination. His work is marked by the fragility Ó Dubhghaill manages to bring to metal; his gossamer light bowls are actually made of copper and gold alloy, hammered to be whisper thin. Each form is custom cast, uniting two or more metals into a unique alloy, and forged by hand using traditional silver-smithing hammer techniques.