People to watch in 2016: Design

This selection of creators takes in illustration, typography, Scandi-influenced homewares, an exploration of the national colour palette, and an instigator of 'cultural happenings'


Maciek Martyniuk

Maciek Martyniuk, aka Yo Magick, is a young IADT graduate based in Dublin who was selected in 2015 by the journal

Creative Review

to have his design work appear on more than 1,000 JCDecaux digital screens all over the UK, including Victoria Station. Audiences in Dingle last month got to see his vibrant redesign of the Other Voices brand and



magazine has just featured this Polish-born designer in its list of “designers, illustrators and typographers breaking the multidisciplinary mould of visual language”.

He blends type and image in a genuinely innovative way, infusing text with such character and animation that it demands to be read. His ‘Nice Posters’ series explores typography and graphic form in a humorous and buoyant manner using CGI graphics and typography skills honed during a year studying in Stuttgart as part of his IADT course.

The social network app Stroll, which he designed for his graduation, has a zen-like, tranquillity. It allows users to share and recommend interesting walking routes.


Mary Nally
Arts curator

Of Ireland’s tiny number of influential arts pioneers and design mavens, Mary Nally is possibly the most proactive. An independent curator of myriad celebratory events in Galway, New York, Dublin, Reykjavík and Glasgow, she puts meticulous thought into the design of every element, from concocting cocktails to constructing dance floors and resurrecting old fonts.

She was an early instigator of the now ubiquitous pop-ups, “happenings” and curated experiences that have enlivened Irish urban culture. In recent years, Nally has arranged bacchanalian gatherings in Nama buildings under the title ‘No Way Back’ and created bespoke bars for the likes of Body and Soul, Galway International Arts Festival, Cork’s Sounds from a Safe Harbour, and Magnetism in Sligo.

This year she will hold another of her contemporary cultural biennales on Inis Oírr, titled 'Drop Everything'. Previous editions in 2012 and 2014 presented a re-appraisal of what Irish culture is and can be, and proved to be a call to arms to anyone fortunate enough to have been there.


Fatti Burke

You know Fatti Burke’s work (her real name is Kathi) even if you don’t realise it. You’ve seen her innocent, 1950s-style, hand-drawn maps and illustrations in magazines and on products but have probably never stopped to consider the creative spark behind them.

At their best, designers are stealth operators, impinging on you in gradual, subtle ways. The primary impact should be the item being presented, rather than its design. But that said, Burke’s work has a distinctive jubilance that is hard to miss.

You know those vibrant, hand-illustrated maps accompanying travel articles in Cara Magazine or the quirky graphic titles in RTÉ's A Poem For Ireland, or the images and text on packs of Boost Bites snacks? They all have that playful, retro sensibility that marks out her work.

Last year she won an Irish Book Award for Irelandopedia, an illustrated encyclopaedia of Ireland with an eccentric compilation of facts written by her father John Burke and endearing, soul-comforting illustrations by herself.


Paula Barrett
Visual artist

Paula Barrett has taken bold strides towards coaxing Ireland into reappraising its national colour palette. Her Ireland: Colour Samples consists of 16 postcards and fine art prints featuring Irish landscapes bordered on one side by a colour chart that highlights the dominant pigmentation of the scene. The effect is a revelatory insight into the unique tints and tones in the Irish landscape.

Barrett’s work challenges our lazy presumption of a landscape of 40 shades of green. “I wanted to create a collection of colour palettes that celebrate the real colours and lighting conditions found in our landscape, helping both tourists and locals see beyond just the green, to the grey and everything else in between.”

She has been “inspired and supported by” the new wave of designers, craftspeople and independent retailers who are carving out a new aesthetic for Ireland, based on an exploration of our culture seen through an international prism.

In 2016 she will extend her range under the title Turf Projects.



Jo Anne Butler and Gearóid Muldowney make up the design duo Superfolk. After studying and working in design in both Ireland and Scandinavia, they turned their backs on urban life to find inspiration in Mayo’s coastal extremities. Their range of serene, tactile homewares are designed and made by the couple at their home, an old dock-workers cottage by a quayside.

The idea is to create small batches of intimately considered products made from natural materials, which they can design, craft and sell themselves directly from home. A grander secondary aspiration is to inspire others to reconnect with the natural world through their products: their leather and oak camping stool is “for cooking freshly caught mackerel on the barbecue on a pier in Achill”.

In 2015, they exhibited at Maison et Objet in Paris, DesignMarch in Reykjavik, the NYCxDesign Workshop and the London Design Festival, and were also featured in The Guardian, Monocle and Elle Decoration – much of this with help from the Design and Crafts Council.