First Ladies of Design

Shining a light on two Dublin design practices led by women...

By: Jane Gleeson

First Ladies of Design

Shining a light on two Dublin design practices led by women

8th March 2016

Words: Jane Gleeson | Photos: Rudy de Souza


Last year's Irish Design 2015 programme saw 12 months of events putting the spotlight on Irish design, both at home and abroad.  It also left a legacy in the form of the Policy Framework for Design in Enterprise in Ireland, a report which amongst other findings states that there should be “more females in design roles”.



The report found a 75:25 ratio of men to women in design jobs in Ireland compared to a more balanced 54:46 for the rest of Irish industry.  That’s a pretty striking imbalance and we’re very interested in how the Design and Crafts Council plan on tackling this.

For the day that’s in it (International Women’s Day 08/03/16) we thought we'd take a quick look at two local designers doing work we love, in their relatively young design studios near each other in D7.



Our first stop was to Smithfield to meet Simone Smyth, co founder of of digital design studio HyperBrow. A former freelancer, Simone moved from agency to agency before she decided to join forces with a fellow DIT graduate Sorcha Delaney.

You might recognise HyperBrow’s illustrations from the 2015 nationwide YES Equality Campaign as well as some of their work for Science Gallery. 

Their work with Science Gallery has already led to them seeing off the competition to head the design for the Europe Wide HYPATIA Project, a resource designed to encourage from a 13 to 18 year old demographic to work and study in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degree courses.  A huge start for such a young practice. 



Next up, we stopped off at the new Arran St East studio, where we had a chat with creative director Laura Magahy and studio manager Sheenagh Green.

Laura has been involved with the creative industry for 15 years and launched her ceramics brand Arran St East in early 2015.  Each piece they make is hand-thrown in their studio, with forms, colours and names inspired by the fruit and veg sold in the Smithfield market across the road. 



In early 2016 they opened their brand new studio in a corner building on the corner of Mary’s Lane and Little Green Street, directly opposite the main approach of the Smithfield Market.  Again they took the market and surrounding area as their inspiration.  For example, they used black steel work to emulate the Victorian structure of the market and they've painted the old conveyor belt from the basement the same green the weathered copper steeplechases in the distance.

These are just two examples of great local designers, both women.  We’ve also featured several female designers on The Locals in the past.  People like Jennifer Slattery in The Old Butcher’s Studio, Jette Verdi and her food events, and one of our favourite illustrators Fuchsia MacAree who made our recent Telephones poster.


Annie Atkins (top) and Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh.

We can also take inspiration from product designer Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh, who in 2009 launched a new recipe for a mouldable glue with Sugru and in 2014 graphic designer Annie Atkins shot to fame for her work on Wes Anderson’s feature film The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Whilst it’s great to acknowledge their work on International Women’s Day, it’s vital that more women feel they can play a key part in design and we see the imbalance balanced in the years to come.   

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