Diamonds, pigeons and a garden fit for a king: meet the winners of this year’s Irish design awards

Collaboration was the key to the success of many of this year’s winning projects

The Meeting Pods, Cherrywood Business Park, Dublin, are in harmony with their setting

The old, cliched notion of the designer was that of the solitary practitioner staring at the sky and reflecting on the complexities of existence, before working alone to bring an idea to life.

Today, design is multi-faceted, multi-skilled and multi-impact. The winners of the annual IDI Irish Design Awards are testament to just that – time and again we saw winning projects across all categories that demonstrated the power of collaboration.

The Meeting Pods, Cherrywood Business Park, Dublin

Collaboration is key when considering the designer’s role in designing for a better planet. The re-imagining of the traditional meeting room in a business park is what Mola Architecture achieved with the design of the meeting pods at the former Cherrywood Business Park in Dublin.

The brief was to introduce inspirational meeting areas that positively impact the business park tenants’ experience. Instead of creating a typical, consolidated office building with a large footprint, initial studies were carried out to explore the potential of decentralising the architectural approach, minimising the environmental impact and optimising the user experience.

The pods demonstrate sustainable practices in harmony with their natural setting. The project is an exemplar of sustainable design practice, with end-of-life considered at the outset of the project to inform the choice of materials and fabrication strategies.

The result has been extremely successful in terms of sustainability and wellness, along with aesthetic success; a deserving winner of the IDI Awards Grand Prix.

“Sustainable architecture extends beyond the spaces it creates. It has the power to influence future projects to consider a different approach,” said Mola. “If we are to succeed in creating a truly sustainable world, our architecture should encompass new technologies, strategies and environmental science.”

Red&Grey’s striking design work the the Creative Arts summer schools programme

The Creative Arts summer schools campaign

The Creative Arts schools programme has worked with students across Ireland through creative workshops. To promote the programme it contracted the branding agency Red&Grey, which placed the needs of the participants – in this case, nine different learning institutes – at the project’s centre.

By understanding what they each had to offer the programme, the designers were able to create an original and unique promotional campaign comprising photography and design work featuring ice lollies – and pigeons.

“Radical collaboration, that is, collaboration between unexpected partnerships, most often yields the best results. There is no point in having two parties with the same idea collaborating together; the result will be uninspired,” says Bob Gray, director of Red&Grey.

“However, with parties who are open minded, who trust in a process of play, debate and respect, then the benefits of collaboration can be outstanding. This is where friction, invention and creativity are brought to the fore.”

The King’s Garden, Belfast, a collabration between garden designer Diarmuid Gavin and illustrator Steve Simpson, looks like a Victorian folly but is far more interesting and fun

The King’s Garden, Belfast

Collaboration between designers from different disciplines and skillsets is also a route to creative success. When garden designer Diarmuid Gavin invited illustrator Steve Simpson to collaborate on a pavillion garden in Belfast, little did they know that they would be welcoming the newly crowned King Charles and Queen Camilla to officially open the King's Garden.

The benefit of this collaboration is the invention of something new and unique, a celebration of modern eccentricity with contemporary twists and fun, within a 16-metre high, three floor metalwork pavilion topped by a crown.

What looks from a distance like a typical Victorian folly is, on closer inspection, far more interesting and fun.

Edge Only’s diamond marquise ring

It may be on a smaller scale, but the diamond marquise ring from Edge Only is a triumph in collaboration, with a designer working closely with a team of experts to bring to life a new take on a traditional diamond ring.

Typically with diamond rings the focus is entirely on the stones, with the band and settings merely a vehicle for the stones themselves. The marquise ring flips the focus to create a ring where the shape and structure is as beautiful as the gemstones set within it.

Rather than setting the top, designer Jenny Huston chose to set a line of diamonds around the middle of the ring, encircling the body in a row of diamond pavé, highlighting the unique marquise shape of the piece.

The result is considered and cool, striking and refined, covetable and luxurious. It’s a very wearable, gender neutral diamond ring designed and made in Ireland, and hallmarked at the Assay Office in Dublin Castle.

The bar may be in New York, but it is deeply rooted in Ireland

Elements of The Dead Rabbit New York

It’s not just on the island of Ireland that we are witnessing the strength of Irish design and collaboration. The Dead Rabbit bar on Water Street in New York is deeply rooted in Ireland, and its mission of “pioneering a modern Ireland in the US” is one that its design agency, Crown Creative, can closely align with.

By collaborating with modern Irish makers, they have created immersive touch points throughout The Dead Rabbit. From custom glassware to ceramics, and chairs, each collaboration becomes a portal that transports guests from the tip of Manhattan into the heart of Ireland.

A parlour stool for the Dead Rabbit

A parlour stool nods to the playful geometric shapes of Irish modernist pioneer Eileen Gray; candles evoke the smell of whiskey-soaked mahogany bars; bespoke whiskey glasses that feel just right in hand.

Charlotte Baker is chief executive of the The Institute of Designers in Ireland, the representative voice of Irish designers,

Custom glasswear for the Dead Rabbit