Kilkenny Design Workshops 50th anniversary celebrated with interactive iPad app

Posted 24.02.15

Kilkenny Design Workshops 50th anniversary celebrated with interactive iPad app

Story of internationally renowned KDW presented through a new iPad app now available for download from the App Store or via

“A concentration of young artists and designers would have stirred things up in most places...the effects were not long appearing…”
William H. Walsh’s address to the Royal College of Art, London, 1998

Kilkenny Design Workshops (KDW) is back in the picture once again, in a new iPad app which has been designed and developed in its former studios in Castle Yard, Kilkenny.

The story of KDW is told within the new app with rich interactive elements and recent audio clips from KDW alumni as well as photographs from the era, beautiful archival film footage and design content, some of which have just been made public for the first time. Viewers can explore the studios through embedded archive film, tap to absorb the sights and sounds of the workshops in operation, listen to packaging designer Holger Strøm explain the concept for his iconic IQlight® and swipe through 1960’s KDW retail brochures or zoom in to see the former Ormonde Stable buildings and panorama of adjoining Butler House Gardens.

The KDW app features television interviews with William H.Walsh, the visionary KDW founder and recordings of Åke Huldt, who was part of the invited Scandinavian group to audit design in Ireland in 1961, which later published the seminal 'Design in Ireland' report commonly referred to as the ‘Scandinavian Report’. Readers curious about the contents can read and tab through the findings in the complete ‘Design in Ireland’ report contained within the app.

The innovative Kilkenny Design Workshops were a government policy design initiative, established in 1963 and officially opened in 1965 under the remit of the Irish Export Board to advance the standard of design in Ireland. A revolutionary concept involving a bohemian mix; international designers were headhunted to lead multi-disciplinary workshops in Kilkenny and share their expertise with local apprentices and young Irish designers. KDW is credited with helping spark Ireland’s design economy and awakening contemporary Irish design.  

KDW’s organisational model was later replicated internationally and KDW staff worked their way around the world, from Barbados to the Philippines, sharing KDW’s design approach and ethos. KDW’s products were renowned for their design, aesthetic and craftsmanship, and their advances in industrial design, retail, exhibitions and promotions meant the name ‘Kilkenny’ become synonymous worldwide with good design.

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of KDW’s official opening and acknowledges its impact on design in Ireland and further afield. This anniversary fittingly takes places during Irish Design 2015 (ID2015), a year-long government backed initiative exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish design in almost every form through a programme of events and activities both in Ireland and internationally.

Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland and a director of Irish Design 2015 said: “We are delighted to present this visually rich and informative KDW app in partnership with the Heritage Council. The KDW app is a digital resource designed to engage people in an accessible and interactive way about the work of KDW and its impact on design in Ireland. It is particularly timely that we are launching this app in the year that celebrates Irish design both at home and internationally through Irish Design 2015. We hope the app content encourages people both nationally and globally to find out more about the heritage of Irish design, the Kilkenny Design Workshops and how good design can be instrumental in a country’s economic success.”  

The KDW app acts as an enjoyable introduction to Kilkenny’s design history and the story behind its creative legacy.  It seeks to engage people with the story of KDW in an innovative format and has been designed to delight and inform.  For those who wish to know more detail about its approach and operations, they simply rotate their iPad to read further text. The app can be an educational resource and support tool in bridging the information gap about KDW. For those who wish to simply immerse themselves in the atmosphere and design of that era, they can absorb the audio and visual content with a tap to hear or see KDW staff at work or play.

Features within the KDW app include:

  • Artist in residence Oisín Kelly’s humorous and insightful lecture on artistic creativity
  • 50 year old archive footage originally broadcast on KDKA TV in the USA
  • Recently recorded recollections of KDW alumni as they recall their time at the workshops  
  • The 1965 master plan drawing for the original proposed studios at KDW
  • Images of iconic products and family archive photos
  • The full ‘Design in Ireland’ Report,1961
  • KDW San Francisco & Kilkenny Shop retail brochures from the 1960s
  • ‘Did you know?’ facts about KDW
  • Snippets from RTÉ TV’s Anthology ‘Designed in Kilkenny’ 1969 programme
  • KDW’s international reach with selected global listings in a map format

Although KDW’s operations were closed in 1988, it left a strong legacy of design in Ireland in industry and domestically. Following the KDW@21C conference in late 2013, hosted in Kilkenny Castle by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, a KDW Legacy Committee was formed with the objective of creating a permanent, national KDW collection. The newly launched iPad app is part of that journey to honour KDW’s legacy. The support and participation from the KDW@21C Legacy Committee has been key to creating the first tangible output of remembering and celebrating KDW.

The KDW app has been part funded by the Heritage Council and by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. Both organisations wish to gratefully acknowledge and express sincere thanks to all those who generously supported the project with photographic and archive material. The KDW app was designed and developed in Castle Yard, Kilkenny by Red Lemonade Creative, with content developed by Ruth Mulhern and produced by DCCoI.

The KDW iPad App is available to view in the National Craft Gallery, Kilkenny and visitors are invited to browse the app and enjoy the interactive elements.

For further information, please visit or download the iPad app on the App Store.



Download the press release here.

For further press information please contact: Aoife Smith, Sorcha Furlong or Emma Kelly at Elevate PR on 01-6625652 or / / 

Notes to Editors:

About the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland
The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) is the main champion of the design and craft industry in Ireland, fostering its growth and commercial strength, communicating its unique identity and stimulating quality design, innovation and competitiveness. The mission of DCCol is to promote and stimulate the creative and commercial potential of Irish design and craft and to work in collaboration with strategic partners in the ongoing development and growth of the sector. To learn more, visit:

About Irish Design 2015
Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, is Patron of Irish Design 2015 and the initiative has been included in the Irish Government’s Action Plan for Jobs. ID2015 is being convened by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI), in collaboration with partner organisations, on behalf of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Enterprise Ireland. Irish Design 2015 partners include Founding Partners - MCO Projects; Accommodation Partners - The Doyle Collection; Venue Partners - OPW; Exhibition Partners – DAA, Technology Partners - IBM, and Broadcast Partners - RTÉ.  To learn more, visit

About the Heritage Council
The Heritage Council is the statutory body charged with identifying, protecting, preserving and enhancing Ireland’s national heritage. National heritage includes Monuments, Archaeological objects, Heritage objects, Architectural heritage, Flora, Fauna, Wildlife habitats, Landscapes, Seascapes, Wrecks, Geology, Heritage gardens and parks, and Inland waterways. Established under the Heritage Act 1995, and operating under the aegis of the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, the Heritage Council provides advice to the Minister, and partners and networks with Local Authorities and a wide range of other organisations and individuals to promote Ireland’s heritage. To learn more, visit

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