A week in Milan Pt. 2


By: John Mahon

Emerging from The Global Irish Economic Forum back in 2013, 'Irish Year for Design 2015' (ID2015) is a year-long initiative funded by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland and the Irish government.  ID2015’s aim is to celebrate and promote Irish design at home and abroad.

The ID2015 flagship show is called ‘Liminal’.  It is a collaboration between 20 different designers, studios and companies showing how Irish designers are moving across disciplines to create exciting new projects. 

Lesiele Juliet from Begged Borrowed Stolen went to Milan for the Liminal debut and caught up with some of the Irish gang for Part 2 of our Milan Design Week Report (Click here to see Part 1 of Lesiele’s Milan Report).

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Alex Milton, ID2015 curator and programme director is keen to dispel the stereotypes of Irish design commonly associated with the likes of Aran knitted jumpers and claddagh rings.

Irish Design is so much more than Celtic pottery and Waterford crystal.  As lovely as they may be, there are a dynamic range of disciplines that are shaping the Ireland of today, ranging from the tech start ups of Dublin’s ‘Silicon Docks' to architectural innovation, woven textile manufacturers and design agencies whose award winning work is putting Ireland on the map.
Ireland is reaching an exciting point, at the edge of breaking out and becoming a nation highly regarded for its innovative design and creative forward thinking.


Liminal – Irish Design at the Threshold is a creative collaboration of Ireland’s most exciting creative minds launching for the first time at Milan Design Week, with one Irish company Mourne Textiles, a family run business returning after 60 years from their successful award winning collaboration with British designer Robin Day on The Mourne Milano Rug in 1951. The Liminal exhibition is a year-long initiative, exploring themes of Sense of place, Sustainability, Creativity and Well-being, as they relate to all parts of society. Liminal explores the idea of liminality through both geographic location and design relationships.

Some of the exhibiting artists included Ceadogán Rugs and ceramicist Andrew Ludick’s collaboration, translating Andrew’s ceramic designs and transforming it onto their rugs ensuring the rugs embraced the linear imperfections and impurities of the ceramics.


Previously mentioned Mourne Textiles, a Northern Ireland-based textile company teamed up with Dublin design studio Notion to create a new range of ash furniture upholstered with their re-editioned textiles.

Notion updated the shape and materials used in their Dowell chair with a curving backrest and anodised aluminum legs to "let the old fabric tell the traditional story” as they put it themselves.

The brightly upholstered designs of Dublin studio Perch and Wicklow furniture manufacturer Thomas Montgomery stood out for all the right reasons. Designed with the ability to cluster together at an angle, with arm supports also functioning as tables.

Their attitude to design also stood out; admitting the last thing the world needs is another chair.  Embracing this attitude they found a market, which needed better designed chairs whilst maintaining affordability.


Their chairs and stools are designed for school children and office workers featuring flexible structures and body movement support, redefining the notion that classroom chairs should be a square shape. Their chair design proposes to heighten alertness and attentiveness in schools, tackling important issues of posture and implementing core strength at a young age, setting them up with healthy habits for life.

Over the past two years, Wicklow product designers Design Partners and Seed Lab Inc. have paired up, exploring new territories in connected devices collaborating on a wireless remote called Silvair Control, connecting household appliances with its sleek and compact design fitting snugly in the palm of your hand. There are sensors in the base and top of the curved remote, detecting hand gestures to adjust household appliances including lighting, music systems and heating.


Dublin industrial designers Design Goat create experiences through products, spaces, furniture and food. Established in 2011, Designgoat have worked on a broad range of projects from product design for Jameson and Bean & Goose chocolates to commercial interiors for Dublin cafes Sister Sadie and Brother Hubbard. They manufacture their prototypes in house and work closely with local fabricators to bring their designs to life.

Design Goat teamed up with Indigo & Cloth’s Garrett Pitcher to collaborate on chair and accompanying magazine rack for the Dyflin project. Their design inspiration came from the intriguing notion; what if the Vikings had never left, what would Dublin as a city be today?

Exploring these ideas, the design aesthetic nods to Scandinavian simplicity bringing an Irish context, using Irish manufacturing and materials.   The chair and magazine rack are designed to be noticed and appreciated for its beauty with the ability to blend into its surroundings when not used.

Following Liminal’s jaunt to Milan, with the exhibition is currently in New York, making its way to Dublin In July and finally Eindhoven in October.

Many of the designers, are developing elements of their work as the exhibition progresses from location to location, evolving over the course of the year, truly exploring the idea and concept of liminality.


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