Kilkenny Design Workshops

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(established 1963)

Prior to the establishment of the Kilkenny Design Workshops by the Irish government in 1965, there had been limited scope for industrial design in Ireland. Although there had been some acknowledgement of the potential of industrial design to boost the export potential of Irish industries before the Second World War, by the 1950s there were only two design consultancies of note: the Design Research Unit of Ireland (specializing in exhibition design) and Sigma Consultants (specializing in furniture, advertising, and package design). However, in 1960 the Irish design climate began to change with an invitation made by the Irish government's Exports Board to an expert group of Scandinavian designers to consider potential strategies for design in Irish industry. The ensuing report (Design in Ireland: Report of the Scandinavian Design Group in Ireland April 1961) was published in 1962 and advocated the reform of design education alongside the necessity of enhancing the importance of design in craft‐based industries such as textiles, ceramics, glass, and metalwork. In the following year the Kilkenny Design Workshops (KDW) were established as the first state‐owned design consultancy and soon established a reputation as an important centre for industrial, graphic, and craft design. In the 1970s the KDW also moved into the field of engineering design. Designers from overseas also worked at the KDW and played an influential role in the further development of design consciousness in Irish industry.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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