Tuesday 31 May 2011

Launch of Designer Dublin

Designer Dublin is being launched tomorrow 1st June at 5pm in the Kilkenny Shop, on Nassau Street, Dublin 2.

Senator David Norris and broadcaster and stylist Sonya Lennon will be launching Designer Dublin and there will be live craft demonstrations from a number of designer-makers.

For more information on this invite-only event, contact Eibhlin Curley at Dublin City Enterprise Board.

Thursday 19 May 2011

The Design Tower Summer School 2011

Housed in an old sugar refinery in Dublin’s' Grand Canal Basin, The Design Tower is home to a variety of award-winning designers, artists and craftspeople.

This June you will be able  to learn skills directly from the professionals, in their studios in small intimate classes. These classes are aimed at artists and those with creative backgrounds. We welcome the chance to challenge and widen students creativity- in a range of disciplines.

Classes are small so please book now to avoid disappointment. Contact details are specific to each class. Free parking is available.

Here are the details of the seven courses on offer - 


Liz was awarded the RHA Conor/Moran Sculpture Medal in 2007 and the Oireachtas/CAST Sculpture Prize in 2000.

Collectors of her work include the International Rugby Board, the Irish Rugby Football Union, The National Concert Hall, Belfast City Hall and New York New York Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.

Public pieces include life size bronze sculpture of world famous Irish tenor, Count John McCormack, in Dublin's Iveagh Gardens, and champion Irish greyhound Mick the Miller, in Killeigh, County Offaly.

Sculptor Liz O'Kane is running a weekend course in portrait sculpture with live model in her studio. Running over two weekends, 11/12th and 18/19 June, the course will consist of 8 x three hour sessions. The course will be intensive, suitable for all levels from beginners, to those with experience. Students will have finished portrait head by end of course.

Dates - 11/12th and 18/19 June
Price - €390
Deposit 50%.
Times - 10 am to 5 pm daily
Places - Four places available
Contact - 0879174947, email: info@elizabethokane.com,

For more information, visit Liz's website.

Clay is included in course cost.  Armatures and modelling stands are provided and can be purchased at end of class at cost price of €20.


Roisin Gartland is an award winning designer and conceptual artist. She works to commission, and fashions unique pieces for individuals and costume pieces for stage and film. She has just completed an MFA at the NCAD, and her work is in several collection nationally and internationally.

The aim of this initiative is to open the studio to another type of experience. Workshop participants have the opportunity to design their own unique piece and proceed to realise their creations under Róisín’s guidance. It will be a challenging 2 days so be prepared!

Choice of beautiful leathers. All equipment supplied

Dates:  25/26th June /  02/03rd July
Times: 10am to 6 pm
Price: €300 including materials per two day workshop
Deposit 50%
Places: 5 per workshop   
Contact: 087 2490984 / email - workshop@roisingartland.com
For more information visit Roisin's website.


Lee Harding and Sé O'Donoghue are two goldsmiths who set up their studio in 2000 after extensive experience working in studios in Ireland and abroad. They regularly organize exhibits for the annual Design Week Festival showcasing the
best of Irish design and jewellery makers, and have been published among the best collections of international designer jewellery.

Each workshop will begin with a first day of wax carving and exploring shape and form, and preparing a wax for casting.

The second weekend, the group will have their rough-cast form in precious metal and will clean and finish the object to a finished piece of jewellery. The aim of the workshop is that each person will be guided through creating a piece of jewellery from start to finish, and will have their own piece of jewellery at the end to take with them, either a ring, a pendant or a brooch.

Dates -The workshop will be comprised of one day each weekend, ie;
Workshop 1:  Saturday 18th & Saturday 25th June
Workshop 2:  Sunday 19th & Sunday 26th June
Times - 10 to 5.
Price - €335 and covers 2 days tuition, casting, & silver material
Deposit – 50%
Places -  3 in each workshop.
Contact - letmeknow@dacapo.ie
For more information, visit the Da Capo website.

SILVERSMITHING - MAKING A BOWL with silversmith Seamus Gill.

Séamus Gill is one of Ireland’s leading silversmiths. He has been commissioned by many of Ireland's companies and has exhibited widely nationally and internationally. Most recently he exhibited as one of the “Ten Masters” of British silver.

Séamus Gill will give a weekend workshop on Silversmithing, the art of moving a flat sheet of metal into an elegant three dimensional form. On this course students will be shown how to use traditional skills to hammer a flat disc of metal into the shape of a bowl.

Techniques covered will include sinking, raising, annealing and some soldering.
Because of the high cost of silver, gilding metal will be used on this course but students are welcome to buy their own silver if they wish to make a piece in silver.

This course is suitable for those with a basic understanding of metalworking who wish to expand into the area of forming metal by using silversmithing techniques, or for those who wish to improve on their silversmithing skills.

Dates - 18 and 19 June
Time - 10am to 5pm
Price  - € 230 incl materials
Deposit 50%
Places  - 4
Contact  - 01 677 5701
For more information visit Seamus Gill's website.

MODEL AND CAST IN CIMENT FONDU with sculptor Ayelet Lalor.

Ayelet Lalor (MA in ceramics)  has built a career in ceramic sculpture over the past 13 years. She specialises in figurative sculpture and works in a range of materials including clay, bronze and concrete. She has been responsible for numerous commissions, both private and corporate, including Percent for Art. She has work in many collections including the OPW and Limerick City Gallery.

Over the two day workshop students will be brought through the process from clay model to creating a mould and finishing with a cast version of the model in ciment fondu and/or plaster.

The student will learn to create and finish a clay relief model up to an aprox size of 10 x 16”. This is the basis for the cast, and the process will continue with the creation of  a silicone rubber   and plaster mould, to finally casting their original design in ciment fondu. Once the mould has been completed it can be used for numerous castings in various materials, wax, plaster, etc. This course is most suitable for those with an artistic and /or sculptural backround.

Ayelet will also be teaching a 2 part silicon mould making course using the students existing work on the 02/03 July. Contact her for further details.

Dates:  18/19th June  / 25/26th June
Price: €230 incl materials per 2 day workshop
Deposit 50%.                                                                                                               Places: 5 per workshop
Times: 10am to 5 pm 
Contact: 087 6485856 / email   - studio@ayeletlalor.com
For more information visit Ayelet's website.                                                    

DESIGN AND JEWELLERY SKILLS with Jeweller and Designer Breda Haugh.

Breda Haugh is an award winning Jewellery designer and maker. Her work is retailed through leading retail outlets and the National Museum of Ireland. She also undertakes commissions, corporate work and undertakes exhibition work.

This workshop will show the student how to develop an idea and make a piece of Jewellery. Students will be brought through stages of research and planning involved in designing a piece of jewellery such as a ring or pendant. The resulting idea will be made into a piece of jewellery over the period of the two day workshop using basic handskills.

Drawing equipment, Tools and silver and some other materials will be provided. Each student’s particular needs and abilities will be catered to. This course is suitable for all levels, but an interest in Jewellery and some knowledge of working in metals would be an advantage.

Dates - 18 and 19 June and 25 and 26 June
Time - 10am to 5pm
Price - € 280.00 including materials- silver and drawing equipment ,
Deposit 50%
Places – 3
Contact - 01 6705738
For more information visit Breda's website.

PAPERMAKING with paper conservationist Pat McBride

Pat McBride has been working with paper for over twenty five years. Having established the Paper Conservation Studio in 1985, he has been responsible for the conservation and preservation of a huge range of paper based art from watercolours prints and drawings to a range of ephemera materials. Since its conception, the Studio has been involved with a vast range of paper making projects. Core to paper conservation is a fundamental understanding of the hand papermaking process and it is this knowledge that will be imparted to participants who undertake this course.

This two day workshop will introduce participants to the history and theory of hand papermaking and will have them make a variety of different types of handmade paper.

This would include traditional rag based writing paper; paper made from recycled paper and handmade paper with floral and plant additions. The hand made paper would then be finished so that it can be used for specific purposes such as drawing, writing or collage use.

Participants who undertake this course will at the end of the workshop have a variety of papers made and finished and will have the skills necessary to continue making paper on their own.

All materials supplied and it is suitable for all levels

Dates - 25th and 26th June
Price - €250, deposit 50%.
Deposit – 50%
Times -10am till 4pm
Places - 5
Contact - 086 2451318

* Spaces are limited on these courses so we advise you to book quickly!

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Alltissimo Quintet Lunchtime Concert

This is the poster for the upcoming 'Altissimo' viola quintet lunchtime concert that will be happening in the foyer of The Design Tower on 2nd June at 1pm. The concert duration is approximately fifty minutes. All are welcome, so please spread the word!

You can read more about the concert as well as the instruments in the previous post.

The poster was designed by instrument maker - Michael De Hoog who made all of the instruments that will be played in the recital.

Monday 16 May 2011


Photographer Agata Stoinska and producer/art director Eddie Shanahan have collaborated on a project to celebrate and promote Irish jewellery design. The photographic collection is called Adornment and marks 2011 as being the Year of Craft. The exhibition and travelling exhibition will promote and raise awareness of Irish jewellery design.

Agata approached Eddie to come up with a new idea for an art photo collaboration. Originally it was intended to photograph the work of just six jewellery designers but the interest in the project was so immense that eventually three submissions days were held at D–Light Studios in Dublin with jewellers from all over Ireland submitting work for consideration.

Both Agata and Eddie were astonished at the treasure trove of innovation, imagination and design talent uncovered, so much so that the original single day’s shoot became three days – each with its own theme. Below is a quote from Eddie -

"I have worked with jewellery designers over the years and felt it was time to shine some light on them. When you see the ideas these artists have: the skills, the imagination. When you look at, say, Tuula harrington, who works with reindeer antlers embedded with diamonds. It has become a very exciting venture. I can now understand why people collect it; it can be an inspiration. It makes you so very proud to be Irish and I feel so grateful to all those who created"

Details of the two photographs shown -

Top image - Agate, onyx and mother-of-pearl necklaces by MoMuse. Model: Amber Jean Rowan from Morgan The Agency.
Bottom image - Silver necklace and bangle by Seamus Gill. Model: Jayne Wilde from Morgan The Agency.

The Adornment exhibition is open to the public from 1-14th June at the European Union House, 18 Dawson Street, Dublin 2. Time:  Weekdays 9am – 5pm. It will feature a selection of images from the Adornment project.

For more information, visit the Designer Dublin website.

Credits -
Photography by Agata Stoinska
Concept and art direction by Eddie Shanahan

Images and quote from Eddie Shanahan taken from the Sunday Independant Life magazine 15th May 2011.

Friday 13 May 2011

'Art in the Garden' Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition

Gormleys Fine Art in association with Hastings Hotels is proud to announce the sculpture event of the year “Art in the Garden” taking place this spring in the Culloden Estate and Spa.

This is one of the largest and most unique outdoor sculpture events to be held in Ireland. The grounds at the Culloden Estate and Spa will showcase 120 pieces of sculpture. Up to sixty leading Irish and International artists will be taking part, including two sculptors from The Design Tower - Ayelet Lalor and Elizabeth O'Kane.

Set against the twelve acres of beautiful secluded gardens and woodland, visitors will be presented with a diverse collection of sculptures, with combined life size works, large installations and smaller more intimate pieces, housed in specially constructed marquee located by the Cultra Inn.

The exhibitions runs from 7th until 22nd May 2011.

The two images above show Ayelet Lalor's piece entitled "I am the daughter of earth and water." Below is Liz O'Kane's two bronze figures, "Ricardo and Janice."

Liz O'Kane will also be showing work in the following exhibitions this summer:
  • Solomon Fine Art, Celebrating 25 years of CAST Foundry, 27 May - 2 June,  number 15 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin (bronze bull).
  • Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast, War on Want charity exhibition and auction, 24 - 28 May (bronze female head).
  • Royal Hibernian Academy of Art Annual Exhibition, Ely Place, Dublin 2, from 24 May to 30 July (two watercolour cityscapes of New York's Lower East Side).

Bronze Heron

Liz O'Kane's most recent public sculpture, of a life size heron, is now on full view in Jordanstown Loughshore Park, County Antrim.

It was commissioned by Newtownabbey Borough Council as one of a series of new sculptures, inspired by the local seascape of Belfast Lough and the Causeway Costal Route.

For more information visit Elizabeth's website.

Monday 9 May 2011

Lunchtime Quintet performance in The Design Tower

Michiel De Hoog - resident instrument maker in The Design Tower has organised a lunchtime concert in The Design Tower, with string Viola Quintet Altissimo. This quintet is made up of members from the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and is Ireland's only Viola Quintet. This event is also unique as the five instruments have been made by Michiel!

The Alltissimo quartet is comprised of -
Violin 1 Brona Fitzgerald
Violin 2 Camille Bonnard
Viola 1 Adele Johnson
Viola 2 Errika Horsley
Cello Martin Johnson

The performance will take place in the foyer of the Design Tower. The quartet will be performing Dvorak's Vla 5tet Op97 and Ralph Vaughan-Williams "Phantasy Quintet".

The concert will take place on 2nd June at 1pm. (Total Duration max 50mins). All are welcome!

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Designer Dublin

As part of The Year of Craft 2011, Designer Dublin was set up to showcase the very best of design and craft made in Dublin. The project was initiated by Dublin City Enterprise Board. Several designers from the The Design Tower are represented in the collective - Da Capo, Seamus Gill, Elizabeth O'Kane, Alan Ardiff, Precious, Rangoli, Breda Haugh and Ayelet Lalor.

As part of this network, there will be a craft studio trail around Dublin city on Friday the 10th of June. This is an opportunity to see the masters at work and visit individual studios! Below are a few words from Eibhlin Curley from DCEB.

"Designer Dublin is a collaborative initiative to promote craft and design in Dublin during the month of June. Dublin City Enterprise Board a small business support agency developed the idea. We brainstormed with Dublin designers and state agencies and devised an exciting programme of activities including a craft trail, workshops, exhibitions, craft demonstrations, public talks and it will launch on 1st June 2011.  It is part of the Year of Craft 2011 celebration of craft.

 This initiative is to serve the Dublin craft sector in terms of:
  • Exposing Dublin craft work to the consumer for potential sales.
  •  Showcasing Dublin and it’s craftspersons as a centre for quality Irish crafts in the minds of domestic Irish consumer and international visitors.
  • Branding and profile-raising the substantial craft sector in Dublin.
  • Collective marketing for the sector by building cohesion between craftspersons
  • Strengthening the Dublin Craft sector in terms of communications and marketing.
 Designer Dublin’s objective is to support and encourage the growth of the professional craft industry and to promote Dublin as a centre for exciting and innovative hand made craft.
As part of The Year of Craft 2011, Designer Dublin will showcase the very best of design and craft made in Dublin. We encourage you to experience craft and discover the talented designers of Dublin. Buy a craft and treasure it for life."

Check out the full listing of registered designers - There are also a number of interesting events and talks on design which you can read about on the Designer Dublin website.

We look forward to welcoming you to The Design Tower on 10th June!

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Studio visit - Breda Haugh, Jeweller and Designer

The 'Studio Visits' will be a monthly blog instalment. We're opening our doors to introduce you to the artists and designers in The Design Tower! Each interview will give you an insight into the individual designer or business.

This month we're chatting to Breda Haugh - jeweller and designer

Breda, tell us about your business and how you came to be a jeweller.

Many varied experiences have led me here to The Design Tower. I was introduced to the artefacts of the National Museum and Gallery as a child which made a lasting impression. Art wasn’t taught particularly well at my school, but a friend’s brother was a designer in advertising – I was intrigued, and for some reason was particularly interested in the idea of design, reading all about it, and the art and design of the early 20th century, particularly that from Russia. I remember too, buying Mary Quant’s autobiography, (the English designer), which fascinated me.  It’s the thinking process I like.

A year after leaving school  I found myself in NCAD and subsequently the Design School, during changing times when it was very interesting to be a student. I eventually specialised in jewellery and was fortunate to be chosen for a summer intern-ship in the Kilkenny Design Workshops, during their heyday, and  subsequently received  a graduate  scholarship  enabling  me to further  study jewellery in London for a few years.

I stayed on for a while  to work in the jewellery industry, really enjoying my time , and making the most of the city. When I moved back to Dublin I was again employed in the trade, both manufacturing and retail. And then I found The Design Tower, where I have been designing and making jewellery ever since.

My fascination with design has taken a slightly more academic direction of late, as I am in the process of completing a taught MA in Design History and Material Culture in NCAD - back to where it all began!

What materials do you like to work with?

Metal was the material of all I experienced in NCAD which fascinated and held me, though wool and weaving intrigued too. I now work exclusively in the precious metals of silver and gold, with periodic enhancement of gemstones. I aim to create jewellery that is an expression of personal adornment and extension of self. Each work reflects my passion for design, and particularly the place metal holds in our national identity.

For conceptual work, along with metals, I like to introduce additional materials such as paper and leather.

What inspires you to design?

Abstract ideas, architecture contemporary design, different cultures, politics, history, natural forms, light and shade, uses of different  materials. Customers inspire too.

Tell us about some interesting projects you have worked on recently

In  2000 I was delighted to be approached by our National Museum to develop a new jewellery collection for their retail outlets, to be based on an artefact from the national collection. Selected for me was the Gold Ribbon Torc, found in Co Antrim -1200-1100 BC. This work with its fine command of technique, sense of proportion and sophisticated design, all  form  a superb example of the craftsman’s Art, making it a very inspiring piece for me to work with, and  one I had long admired. We have little information as to how, or indeed who made it. However  in recent years technical  investigations were carried out by the Irish silversmith Brian Clarke along with his American colleague the jeweller Michael Good, and they concluded that the Torc was made by a version of Anticlastic raising with a red deer’s antler being used in the  process.  

It was required that I  create  work suitable for sale while retaining a sense of the Torc. To do this I carried out research, completing preliminary drawings - from which having gained approval I created the Collection - a contemporary twist on a remarkable piece of art.

This is a full collection of Jewellery both in 18ct gold and Sterling silver. Later  I developed items of jewellery based on Viking artefacts and folk-life items such as the Bridget’s Cross and Harvest Knot, (see below).

In recent years I undertook the commission to develop jewellery based on the Bender Collection of Asian Art, on exhibition in the Museum of Decorative Art and History, Collins Barracks. This comprises brooches and pendants inspired by Fans from the collection.

Tell us about the piece you designed for the Wunderkammer Exhibition on 2009?

“The Gift “ was my piece created for the Wunderkammer Exhibition 2009- based on the Bender Collection, and is a tribute to  the generosity of Albert Bender, the limitations in his own life, his fascination with books, interest in and support of contemporary US and Irish artists and writers. The piece takes the form of two silver small works and an accordion book. The book contains  line drawings and watercolours based on nineteenth century Japanese Prints in the collection, and two lines from W.B Yeats’s poem “The Song of Wandering Aengus”-  “Silver apples of the moon, Golden apples of the sun.”

The silver bowl directly references the gift of fruit in the eighteenth century Thanka of the Arhat Abheda- a disciple of the Buddha, depicts silver and gold apples which are  reminiscent of the poem. The fine lines of gold applied to the external surface of the square silver box reflect the architectural structures portrayed in many of the Japanese prints, and signify confinement. In contrast the inside being is devoid of line, reflecting the notion of a certain freedom.

Are you working on any interesting commissions or have you exciting plans for the coming year?

My latest collection, the silver and baroque pearl,“Silver Circles in Space “ - see image below - inspired by Indian jewellery and circles floating in space, was selected as one of the top 50 products in Showcase 2011.

I recently completed a commission to develop jewellery for the Glasnevin Trust based on their Angel/ Flower logo. The jewellery is for sale in the retail outlet at the museum in Glasnevin Cemetery.

I have a few other projects in the pipeline, for which I will be able to give some information at a later date.

Can you tell us where your work is available to purchase?

A selection of my stockists include;

In Dublin
  • Archaelogy – the National Museum, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
  • Decorative Arts and History, The National Museum, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7.
  • DesignYard, Nassau Street, Dublin 2.
Outside Dublin
  • Little Fish Designs,  Blackrock Shopping Centre, Co Dublin.
  • Avoca Handweavers, Kilmaconogue, Co Wicklow.
  • The Cat and the Moon, Castle Street,  Sligo.
  • The Museum of Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co Mayo.
A selection of items are available on the website www.Siopa.ie (Irish Gifts), and exclusively for the US market www.irishheart.com

My work is available also in my studio, where I see clients for private commissions, for which I prefer to work by appointment.

Thanks for talking to us Breda! Next month we will be featuring another designer from The Design Tower. You can also read the other interviews in the series.

Photo credit - Studio portrait of Breda by Lee Harding.