How Orla Kiely Became A Household Name

An Orla Kiely tablecloth
An Orla Kiely tablecloth | © Nick Nguyen/Flickr
Kate Phelan

With stores in London, New York and Tokyo, Dublin-born designer Orla Kiely is one of Ireland’s most conspicuous creative expats. Now 21 years old, her eponymous clothing, accessories and homewares brand continues to go from strength to strength, covering everything from postage stamps to buses. Here, we take a look at how the woman regularly described as ‘the queen of prints’ got her throne.


Graduating in textile design from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Orla spent time as a fabric and wallpaper designer in New York before moving to London in the early 1990s to work for the Espirit fashion brand while studying for an MA in Knitwear at the Royal College of Art.

The Orla Kiely store in Covent Garden

Family Ties

An Orla Kiely tablecloth

The Orla Kiely Partnership

Orla continued to work for well-known brands like Habitat and Marks & Spencer before establishing her own brand in 1995, aged 32. For some years she kept consulting and worked on her own designs on weekends, but when she pioneered the concept of using laminated fabrics for handbags, her label took off. In 2000, she created her iconic ‘rowan tree stem and leaves’ pattern. The design has since become one of the most widely recognised prints in the world, and Orla Kiely is one of the most successful and prolific designers to ever come out of Ireland. As well as clothes and handbags, her famous motifs now feature on stationery, homewares, wallpaper, garden items, watches and even a range of Citroën cars.

Orla Kiely bus art

Stamp Of Approval

As well as working with car manufacturers, Orla has designed an eco-friendly water bottle with Brita and collaborated with other companies like Uniqlo, Target, Clarks, Method, Boots, and countless more. In 2010, her work featured on a limited-edition fashion postage stamp in Ireland, alongside contemporaries including John Rocha, Paul Costelloe and Louise Kennedy. In November, she will launch her second Resort collection of ready-to-wear clothing under the L’Orla tag, a collaboration with stylist Leith Clarke.

Method x Orla Kiley soap
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article