National Craft Gallery, Kilkenny
February 10 – May 1, 2017

The idea for the Global Irish Design Challenge grew from a desire to seek out designers and innovators who are driven to find solutions to the challenges humanity faces. Centred on core themes of sustainability, wellbeing, sense of place and innovation, designers of Irish lineage or with a strong affiliation to Ireland were invited to submit projects that addressed societal issues or provided an ingenious solution to a problem. The challenge received over 140 entries from 14 countries and following a selection process by an international panel of judges, over 50 projects were chosen for exhibition. The nature of entries range from ground-breaking work by multi-national companies to projects by designers that could have signifcant impact if further developed. Transformative projects such as Arup Ireland’s Bangladesh project which, following the disaster in the textile factory in Rana Plaza, established a system to ensure safety in the workplace, has been adopted by 5,000 factories in India and by the United Nations. The InstaTemp MD is a new type of thermometer. It uses sensor technology to measure core-body rather than external body temperature. Developed by Design Partners for Arc Devices it was used as a diagnostic aid that helped to stem the spread of Ebola in Liberia. Steri-pak, designed by Moses Rowen, is a low cost solution that aims to repurpose gas cylinders into autoclaves for general-use sterilisation to give people access to low cost, effective sterilisation where it was previously unavailable.

Not every project addressed such large-scale humanitarian issues; the Micklem Bridle designed by William Micklem, is a more humane bridle and noseband for horses. It removes the discomfort caused and is currently the top selling bridle in the world. Sense, developed by Eilis Delany, introduces tactile feedback into fire fighting performances. The device can be retrofitted into fire fighting helmets. It enables the user to navigate around dark spaces in a similar manner to bats with improved perception of their environment.

The exhibition contains many more examples of projects and concepts that have the potential to revolutionise the way we live. It creates a platform for game-changing Irish design innovation, while activating and connecting a broad global network of Irish design talent. The Global Irish Design Challenge provides a unique insight into the impact that design and innovation has on shaping and improving the way that we live and interact.

Louise Allen

Click here to see the list of selected projects.