Collaboration with education keeps Irish design at the cutting edge

NCAD is building a bridge between student life and industry with a number of innovative projects

 

Salone del Mobile, Milan’s world-famous furniture fair, has for decades been the launch pad for new products and studios, and a place to find the latest ideas in furniture and product design.

Its most recent edition saw the launch of a new series of products from Waterford crystal company J HILL’s Standard, a collaboration with Norwegian designer Daniel Rybakken.

A mobile and lighting series, Secant marries Rybakken’s minimal aesthetic and lighting expertise with J HILL’s Standard’s mission to reinvigorate crystal production in Waterford.

A series composed of a floor, wall and table lamp and a sculptural mobile employing a pulley and glass counterweights also affords the opportunity to experiment with form and play with our perceptions of a traditional material.

Poses a challenge

National College of Art and Design

“One of the traditional characteristics of lead crystal is for the completed work to be free of bubbles and this will be the biggest challenge: currently we can only fire the glass discs in a kiln, and bubbles are inevitable in kiln-formed glass,” explains Dr Caroline Madden, lecturer at NCAD.

Dr Madden and Anike Tyrrell, founder of J HILL’s Standard, are applying for funding to further the project, which could be the first step towards an ongoing collaboration between the company and the college. Tyrell is enthusiastic about the prospect of creating a stronger relationship with the college and its students.

“While we are at early stages now, I would be delighted to provide more opportunities for students to apply their ideas. There’s great talent in the glass department at the moment,” she says.

Real-world situations

“Over the last three years we have had an average of 50 client projects a year, which is a lot for any institution,” he says. “We’re always looking for projects which will enhance teaching and provide learning value so that students develop skills and experience to become real assets to the industry, the community and to culture in Ireland. ”

Many of the projects that current students engage in tie in with longstanding relationships with Irish companies such as Newbridge Silverware, TileStyle and others. Another industry link initiative is Origin8, the college’s incubator for campus start-ups. Through support and mentoring, as well as office and workshop space in NCAD Annex on Dublin’s James’s Street, Origin8 helps student projects become start-ups, and start-ups become viable businesses.

Obeo, a food-waste recycling product you may have seen on the shelves of your local supermarket, or advertised on the side of a Dublin Bus, is the first major success story from Origin8.

Obeo is a company started by NCAD graduate Kate Cronin and her business partner Elizabeth Fingleton and is now employing four others in order to support its expansion to UK and Canadian markets.

Meanwhile, launching next year is M-Power, a multi-functional device aimed at aiding wheelchair users with a myriad of activities, developed by graduate John Horrigan and his company HEIDL.

While studying, Horrigan found a real lack of products on the market to aid wheelchair users with a range of very necessary tasks, and M-Power – an armature that can be fitted to any manually propelled wheelchair to hold devices, laptop tables and more – aims to rectify this.

Great ideas

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