Design and craft for the 21st Century at new exhibition

Sustainability, wellbeing and innovation are at the heart of a new design exhibition, writes Carol O'Callaghan.

Perch Design's Float modular office furniture offers a casual space for meetings, or for an individual to find a quiet place to work alone.

Design fans who visited last year's calendar of events as part of the Design and Craft Council of Ireland's Year of Design can enjoy some legacy events including the Global Irish Design Challenge now taking place at the Coach House, Dublin Castle, until August 27.

Instigated a year ago, the challenge was promoted at international design expositions and across the Irish embassy network, aiming to engage as many internationally based designers as possible. 

Key to designers participating in the challenge was, firstly, a demonstrable link to Ireland and, secondly, to present a product, a project, or a concept with potential to revolutionise the way we live, while showing sustainability, wellbeing, innovation, and a sense of place.

More than 140 designers submitted entries from 14 countries, including the US, Australia, Brazil, South Korea, and Finland, across a range of design disciplines including interaction, motion, communication, craft, food, fashion, architecture, the built environment, and craft and product design. 

Fifty-four were then chosen to exhibit by an international jury including veteran Japanese designer and ex-chief designer for Toyota, Hideichi Misono.

For interior enthusiasts there are a number of standout items included that aim to illustrate the importance of good design across some of our most ancient crafts.

Our tradition of silver smithing is being kept alive, if not flourishing, by a modern stable of makers like Cara Murphy. 

Cara Murphy's silver vessels are inspired by Ireland's remote coastal areas.

Her design challenge was to connect her work with the Irish coastal landscape which is still remote in places and unaffected by modern Irish culture and globalisation. 

Her response is Connect, a series of silver cups inspired by the landscape to give them a sense of place, while having functionality to use as drinking vessels.

Furniture making is a craft Ireland already excels at, so the challenge for Tony O'Reilly was to make a chair that is different from any other. 

His approach sees a crafting of the design from a single surface, unlike other chairs which typically have a separate back and seat. 

Called the Twist, it flows in one continuous piece of moulded ply to make a fresh and practical design for everyday use.

Tony O'Reilly's chair is crafted in a single surface for a simple, streamlined aesthetic.

With the commercial rather than domestic environment in mind, Perch Design developed a group seating arrangement in response to a commission by UK furniture company Thomas Montgomery. 

Known for its research-led design, Perch aimed to come up with a practical and aesthetically attractive product that is neither a traditional workstation nor a formal meeting room. 

The finished product is a space-saving, lightweight modular arrangement with soft upholstery, and built on castors for flexible movement. 

It also provides a level of proximity for the individual sitters to encourage easy conversation and interaction.

An unexpected addition to the furniture offering is an orchestral chair by One Off Design whose challenge was to address the postural strain endured by musicians in a way that would provide real benefit and compatibility with space limitations in an orchestra pit. 

The outcome is the Earó chair, a minimal, space-saving design that is material efficient and sustainable.

The Earó chair by One Off Design aims to address postural issues for musicians.

Design with a social conscience comes from Neighbourhood Furniture Factory which is based in Holland but qualified for participation by having an Irish designer on board. 

It worked with unemployed volunteers, recent design graduates, refugees and senior citizens to make furniture for social initiatives.

But this selection is among the tamer exhibits on show. 

You'll also find several surprises including a 3D-printed garment which raises all sorts of possibilities of what might be achieved in the future were 3D printers to become household items. 

Neighbourhood Furniture Factory brings together the unemployed, refugees, and senior citizens to make furniture for local initiatives.

Equally intriguing, though less enticing, and certainly challenging on a variety of levels, is an emerging food product line based on entomophagy, something known and dreaded by contestants on I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, as the practice of eating insects. 

The approach here at the exhibition aims to educate us on its health benefits and sustainability as a food source. 

It's not for everyone, admittedly, but is one of the more eclectic and perversely mesmerising offerings on show.

As Irish design continues to be appreciated abroad, designer and maker Joseph Walsh's Erosion V table, made from burr olive ash and olive ash, and finished in white pigment and lacquer, was shown at Design Miami/Basel 2016 at Basel last month, while the Miami leg of the exhibition is in December. 

In the meantime, a recent scale model of his Magnus Modus piece has been chosen for London's Royal Academy Summer Exhibition which has been held since 1769. 

A visualisation of Joseph Walsh's workshop development at his Riverstick, Co Cork base, by architects IF_DO, is also on show.

They will be shown together until August 21 at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved


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