2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Kilkenny Design Workshops, a visionary state-sponsored design agency set up by William Walsh of Córas Tráchtála following the 1961 Scandinavian Report on Irish design.

KDW Legacy

The legacy of the Kilkenny Design Workshops is hugely significant locally and nationally, as well as bearing an international impact. The Design & Crafts Council Ireland (DCCI) is working in partnership with key stakeholders in Ireland and the UK in the form of a new KDW Legacy Committee. This committee was established in 2014 following DCCI's and the National Design & Craft Gallery's KDW@21C Conference and events in October 2013. As part of its remit the new KDW Legacy Committee are working to develop a physical and digital permanent record of KDW’s history and legacy through the collection of objects, prototypes and designs. The Heritage Council of Ireland has recently awarded DCCI a grant to support the building of an initial KDW Permanent Collection. The purpose of developing and documenting this collection is to preserve the heritage and history of KDW for current and future generations; as a seminal design consultancy and important educative body, which greatly influenced design practice and introduced modernist design thinking in Ireland. DCCI are delighted to support this very important legacy project to acknowledge the influence of the Kilkenny Design Workshops on Irish craft practice and design culture.

Conference: KDW @ 21C

Saturday 26th October 2013

2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Kilkenny Design Workshops [KDW], a visionary state-sponsored design agency. KDW was founded by William Walsh of Córas Tráchtála, following his visit to Plus Workshops in Norway in 1962 and the influential Design in Ireland audit in 1961 [also known as The Scandinavian Report] which was conducted by five Scandinavian design experts. Design work began at Kilkenny Design Workshops from 1963 providing design service for industry, with KDW officially launching in 1965.

The KDW@21C conference was hosted by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland [DCCI] and the National Design & Craft Gallery (NDCG), to mark the 50 year anniversary of the initiation of KDW. The conference sought to investigate the continuing legacy and acknowledge the influence of the workshops on Irish design practice and design culture.

Conference Contributors:

Catriona Crow, Chair of Conference, Head of Special Projects at the National Archives of Ireland | Mary Mullin, Key Note Speaker, Design Consultant | Mike Byrne, Programme Leader Ceramics Design, Limerick School of Art & Design | Lorraine Egan, Design Management Consultant & Former Senior Design Advisor, Enterprise Ireland | Dr. Eleanor Flegg, Freelance writer, researcher and guest lecturer | Rudolf Heltzel, Master Goldsmith | Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive, Crafts Council of Ireland | Dr. Linda King, Lecturer in Design, School of Creative Arts, Institute of Art & Design Technology | Séan McNulty, Design Consultant, Managing Director at Dolmen | Brian McGee, Head of Market Development, Crafts Council of Ireland | Peggy McConnell, Co-Director Propeller | Robert Tully, Lecturer, BA Furniture & Interior Design 4th Year Coordinator, Dublin Institute of Technology | Raymond Turner, Director of Raymond Turner Associates, Design Leadership & Management Consultant | Dr. Una Walker, Research Fellow at NIVAL, working on KDW Demonstration Project for the HEA funded Digital Repository of Ireland initiative

KDW @ 21C Remembrance Event

Sunday 27th October 2013
The Remembering KDW Event happened in Butler House on Sunday afternoon and allowed former KDW workers to catch up with one another.

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Free KDW iPad App
The story of Kilkenny Design Workshops is presented through a free KDW iPad App available to download from the App Store. The app can also be viewed in the National Design & Craft Gallery and in the ID2015 Design Hub, Coach House at Dublin Castle.
Enjoy interactive elements; audio clips from KDW alumni, photographs from the era, rich archival film footage and family documents; some of which have been made public for the first time.

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KDW@21C October 2013 Archive:

Podcasts from the KDW@21C Remembrance Event are available to listen to here.

View photographs from the KDW@21C Conference in Kilkenny Castle on Saturday 26th October 2013 here.

View photographs from the KDW@21C Remembrance Event in Butler House on Sunday 27th October 2013 here.

KDW Archive:
Book: 'Designing Ireland. A retrospective exhibition of Kilkenny Design Workshops 1963 - 1988'. Researched and curated by Joanna Quinn. Published by the Design & Crafts Council Ireland in 2005. Read it here.

Radio: 'Designing Ireland'. Design historian Eleanor Flegg goes in search of a pioneering Irish institution, Kilkenny Design Workshops. Broadcast on Lyric FM Radio on 31st December 2013. Listen here.