26 October 2013 – 15 January 2014


Vernacular26 October 2013 – 15 January 2014

Visit the web page here for more information on the designers and makers in Vernacular.

2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the foundation of ‘Kilkenny Design Workshops’ (KDW), established by the Irish state in response to an influential design audit led by Kaj Franck. Over its 25-year life, KDW brought international designers and makers together to work with Irish craft and industry, joining craft and design in the development of a new idiom. Figures such as John Jenkins, Richard Eckersly and Holger Strom operated from this rural periphery, and iconic products such as Strom’s IQ light were born in Ireland.

In tribute to such a key anniversary for Irish design, ‘Vernacular’ will present work from Ireland in which indigenous materials and processes combine in intelligent collaboration with design, to express an intrinsic and authentic element of Irish material culture. The exhibition will feature work by approximately 20 makers across furniture, wood, glass, ceramics, textile, basketry and stone, characterised by a deep engagement with the making process, and an authenticity that is materially embedded. The exhibition will launch at the London Design Festival in September 2013 as part of Tent London.

Vernacular was produced by the National Craft Gallery and the Crafts Council of Ireland to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Kilkenny Design Workshops, which forms part of the Gathering Kilkenny 2013 Programme sponsored by IPB. The exhibition was devised and curated by Ann Mulrooney with exhibition design by Steven McNamara.

Christmas Closure dates at National Craft Gallery this year:

The gallery will be closed to the public on Christmas Day, Stephens Day and New Years Day. Open as usual outside these dates.

Education & Outreach

KDW@21C 26 Oct | 10am-5.10pm | Parade Tower, Kilkenny Castle

KDW@21C, a conference on the legacy of the Kilkenny Design Workshops (KDW) and its influence on Irish craft practice and design culture, was hosted by the Crafts Council of Ireland and the National Craft Gallery on Sat 26 Oct.

The conference was chaired by Catriona Crowe, head of Special Projects at the National Archives and began with a Key Note address from Ms Mary Mullin, who worked at Kilkenny Design Workshops for 12 years before setting up her own London based design management and promotion consultancy.

KDW@21C Conference included three sessions: Panel 1: Developing an Irish Design Aesthetic; Panel 2: People & Perceptions and Panel 3: Leverage & Legacy. Download the full Conference Programme


For information call 056 7777012 or email

FAMILY DAY: Basket Making Sat 9th Nov 10.30am &12noon

Inspired by Alison Fitzgerald’s woven baskets in our Vernacular exhibition join us for a morning of basketry in the galleries.  Children will work with basket maker Cathy Hayden, who will introduce the craft of weaving with willow. This workshop is hands on and parents are asked to stay and take part. Workshop is now full

Late Date with Suzanna Crampton Thurs 21st Nov 6.30pm

Suzanna Crampton chats about her fields, flock, fleece and Zwartbles Blankets, designed and produced in collaboration with Cushendales Woolen Mills. Join us in the gallery for a glass of wine and get an insight into the making of these stunning hand-crafted blankets, made in Kilkenny from locally produced wool using traditional processes.

FAMILY DAY: Handmade Christmas Sat 14th Dec 10.30am &12noon

Our Handmade Christmas workshop is all about looking and responding through print to our Vernacular exhibition. Surface patterns, shapes and textures will be transformed into prints to create one-of-a-kind, unique Christmas cards, wrapping paper and tags. All the family are invited to join us for our special Christmas Family Day workshop. Workshop is now full.

Late Date: Mulled Wine & Making Thurs 19th Dec 6.30 pm

Mulled Wine & Making – Join us in this Christmassy Late Date for a glass of Mulled Wine and festive making! This informal workshop shows you simple ways to make stunning contemporary textile wreaths and handcrafted decorations for your home. Special guests SONAS Chamber Choir will join us to help spread the Chistmas cheer!

FAMILY DAY: Weave Sat 11th Jan 10.30am &12noon

Create your own piece of woven fabric inspired by the Zwartbles Blanket in our Vernacular exhibition, from Cushendale Woollen Mills. Looking and responding to the contemporary design in the exhibition will inspire children to explore pattern and texture in this introductory weaving workshop.  Participants will design and create a small piece of woven cloth. Suitable for 5 to 12 years old, parents are welcome to stay and join in. To book email: