Kiely design butters up Kerrygold in Britain

Irish Dairy Board commissions Kiely to give dairy products ‘designer sheen’

Just when you thought the famous Orla Kiely floral look couldn't possibly appear anything else, there it is in the freezer section of British supermarkets.

The Irish Dairy Board (IDB) commissioned the London-based Irish designer “to give Kerrygold a new, limited-edition designer sheen” in a promotion that sees her signature print style appear on the packaging for the brand’s butter block and spreadable ranges.

"The flowers depicted are a reflection of a lush Irish meadow and the colour palette used – faun, green and shades of cream – has been selected to complement the natural tone and hue of a meadow while staying true to Kerrygold's green and gold signature colours," says Jeanne Kelly, IDB's head of corporate communications.

For all that corporate rationale, however, the wrapping is simply and instantly recognisable as Orla Kiely – a reflection of how extraordinarily successful her 1960s-inspired graphic images have become.


As well as her clothing and accessory ranges – her handbags, in particular, are ubiquitous – the designs are to be found on a vast range of products that includes bedlinen, mugs, perfume, garden implements, luggage, stationery, lighting, children’s duvets and even a range of furniture.

That’s to be expected from a successful fashion brand looking to extend.

Her stockists are upscale fashion and homeware outlets worldwide as well as her own stores and she has also worked on clothing and shoe ranges with Uniqlo and Clarks and created designs for Tesco shopping bags that made her style highly visible and accessible.

But Kiely prints have also appeared thanks to less obvious but savvy commercial partnerships elsewhere. In 2011 her stem prints featured on a limited-edition Citroen DS3, commissioned by the manufacturer to pitch the car in the same young female- friendly category as the Fiat 500.

Her flowers have also covered a London bus and provided striking patterns for a Bewley’s promotional tea caddy in 2008 and, most recently, a Kenco travel mug.

In the year to March 2012, the most recent year for which figures for the company Kiely runs with her business partner and husband Dermott Rowan are available, sales increased by 19 per cent to £9.42 million (€11.8 million at current exchange rates) with pretax profits at Kiely Rowan plc falling by 57 per cent from £423,277 to £178,306 (€224,700 at current exchange rates).

While the collaboration is a win for Kerrygold – the vibrant design will make it visually jump out of the freezer cabinet – it will feed into a suspicion that maybe we could be heading for “peak Kiely” and that the ubiquity of her trademark stem or flora patterns may make them a less attractive proposition on higher-priced accessories.

More than one woman in Britain will perhaps wonder if she really wants to spend well north of £100 on an Orla Kiely bag featuring a design that’s not too different from one on a butter wrapper.