RTE Television

Designing Ireland

A landmark four-part series that takes viewers to the heart of Irish design: from beautifully crafted furniture to award-winning buildings to cutting-edge product design.

In this new, landmark, four-part series, commissioned to mark the Year of Irish Design, award-winning architect Angela Brady OBE and respected design writer Dr Sandra O'Connell celebrate the very best of Irish design and meet the Irish designers, makers and architects whose work is creating waves locally, nationally and internationally. As the bespoke, the unique, the local make a welcome return worldwide, the series looks at the story of Irish design: the traditions, landscape, materials and culture from which Ireland's designers and makers get their inspiration - and how a new generation of makers and designers is garnering a reputation for Ireland as a hub of international design excellence.

As well as celebrating the modern-day keepers of traditional craft techniques, the series uncovers and celebrates some great Irish design successes: from award-winning architecture to in-demand Irish craft; from best-selling "smart" products to highly-collectible contemporary Irish furniture. From the traditional boat- and basket-maker to the award-winning architect, Designing Ireland is a visual feast that showcases the very best of traditional and contemporary Irish design - and which we hope will inspire the next generation of makers and designers.

Episodes

Episode 1: Angela and Sandra look back at Irish design, past and present, as they trace the beginnings of the modern Irish design. Long before words like 'design' or 'brand' were ever uttered in Ireland, we had our own unique way of doing and making things; traditional crafts and distinctive buildings told a uniquely Irish story. The first episode in the series features some of Ireland's most accomplished traditional craft makers - from Joe Hogan's basket designs to Seamus Gill's silverwork - as well as Irish designers whose work has found a global audience, like Orla Kiely, and award-winning architects who talk about their Irish influences as they write the next chapter in Ireland's design story.

Episode 2: As a former colony and island at the edge of Europe, outside influences have always shaped our history, our culture, and our design. Angela and Sandra look at how centuries of migration, invasion and colonisation have resulted in a constant ebb and flow of influence from abroad. We discover a modern take on the Norman Tower House on the campus of Trinity College; We learn how Dutch graphic designers shaped Ireland's visual culture in the 1950s and how the Scandinavian Design Report in 1962 led to the setting up of the influential Kilkenny Design Workshops, bringing a wave of European designers to Ireland to help unlock a uniquely Irish design style. We see how Irish designers and architects embraced these outside influences and in time went on to influence others as we go inside the award-winning and celebrated Bocconi Institute in Milan, designed by Grafton Architects.

Episode 3: Episode 3 focuses on how Ireland's wealth of beautiful materials and gorgeous landscapes influence Irish designers and makers. This episode showcases the most innovative and beautiful uses of Irish materials, from Helen O'Connell's tactile stone sculptures in Kilkenny Limestone to Joseph Walsh's stunning ash furniture that blurs the line between art and craft; from Mourne Textiles' timeless use of wools and tweeds to Derek Wilson's understated, elegant ceramics. We learn how the economy of Irish craft over the years has taught contemporary designers and architects the value of simplicity, using a small palette of quality materials to create beautifully-designed and made pieces.

Episode 4: The final episode explores the impact design has on our everyday lives, sometimes in ways we don't realise, and uncovers the increasingly visible role that Irish architects and designers now play in a global design industry. It explores how Irish designers are using "design thinking" to improve our lives and our environment. It looks at some beautiful re-designs of urban and rural spaces and showcases international Irish design successes including international best-selling iPad digital baking assistant 'The Drop'; 'Moocall', an innovative calving alert sensor for farmers; and the award-winning all-glass Mimetic House by architect Dominic Stevens.

Produced for RT One by Newgrange Pictures (Supported by BAI, RT, RIAI, ID2015, Department of Arts, Heritage and The Gaeltacht)

Designing Ireland
  • RT One, Thursday, 10.15pm