The 56 files in this series document the projects that were undertaken by the KDW Design Consultancy over the period from circa 1984 to 1988. The documentation is in the form of slides only. The items depicted in this collection include: logo design, brochure design, photography, interior and exterior signage, livery design, prototype and product design, packaging, exhibition display, interior design, upholstery design and slide presentations.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, the KDW focused its attention on the craft-based industries and established departments that worked in wood, textiles, ceramics and silversmithing as these were the dominant industries in Ireland at this time. However towards the late 1970s and early 1980s, the KDW moved towards a multi-disciplinary design approach where departments were less important, and designers from different backgrounds worked together on projects, primarily industrial design based projects. This was partially motivated by an increase in engineering industries being established in Ireland who required more services such as corporate identities and packaging, as well as prototype development and product design. Although the KDW was initially established with a mandate to promote better design standards in order to increase Irish exports, it also had a broader contribution to make to the nation's development and implicit therefore that the KDW should ultimately be independent of the Export Board. This was realised when the KDW parted company from An Coras Trachtala (Irish Export Board) in 1974 and became answerable to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and later in 1978 when the KDW was assigned primary responsibility for the achievements of design standards in industry. The KDW was interested in developing their industrial design skills within the Workshops for some time, and by 1973 they had already carried out a survey of the need for design services among engineering industries and were aware that there was little understanding, much less acknowledgement, of the potential of design in this sector, despite its rapid growth. Over the next decade the KDW slowly implemented their plans to assist the industrial sector and altered their production facilities and organisational layout to cater for this change. By 1984 the transition was fully realised with the establishment of a design consultancy headed up by Jim Dunne.
This single design department now known as the Kilkenny Design Consultancy was 'backed up by an array of support services including market and product research, material and component sourcing, technical advice, photography, copywriting, modelmaking and prototyping'. Projects that were commissioned were charged fees at normal professional rates, and clients availed of one level of consultancy – design management or design practice – or a combination of both. Published material illustrates how the KDW approached both of these levels; 'Design Management helps organisations to shape a design policy and plan ways in which design can most effectively further their aims by improving any aspect of their operation', and 'Design Practice may include all corporate needs or may be for a single application'; most often this level was a natural progression from design management. A sample commission depicted within this series for a Swedish company named GEA Group, illustrates how the Kilkenny Design Consultancy provided both aspects of design management and design practice. It is said that this contract came about from an initial design for an electrical switch for the GEA Group, which developed into the design of their corporate identity, brochures and manuals for their electrical products, livery design, exterior signage and a complete interior design of their Scandinavian corporate headquarters. A project such as this would have involved designers from various disciplines working together to complete the overall commission.
Given that the files in this series were created by a single department with many designers involved – and that no record sheets were located – individual designers are not identified, nor are some of the clients who commissioned many of the designs. A large proportion of the commissions depicted in this series showcase prototype models and some finished products, alongside their technical drawings and sketches. Some examples include; a rotary washing line, concepts and prototypes for Sawafugi loudspeakers, miscellaneous computer terminals and electronic devices, office desktop accessories such as trays and organisers, a golfing aid designed to improve a golfers swing, chopping board concepts for a client named Kitchenmate, and agricultural equipment for spreading slurry, to name a few. Other projects illustrated in the series showcase the marketing and packaging design capabilities of the design consultancy, these include packaging solutions for the following; Hygex Disinfectants, Gaeltarra Knitwear, Clarnico Iced Caramel Sweets, Grannies Kitchen Cakes, and a variety of packaging concepts for Tretorn tennis balls in materials such as cardboard or plastic. Other clients such as McShane Consultancy Services and Coyle Hamilton Insurance Brokers, appear to have solely commissioned the Design Consultancy to design marketing materials and brochures, while some clients only commissioned logo design concepts, such as those created for Geith International Ltd, Federation des Experts Compatibles Europeens and BHP Laboratories (Boland Higgins Purcell & Co.).
A selection of the files in this series consist of slide presentations that were most likely used by the Design Consultancy to demonstrate concepts to their clients, such as the typographic arrangements of a logo for a new Post Office Savings Bank by An Post, or a presentation entitled 'Design in Government' which assesses the design of stationery, forms and publications created for governmental agencies which was perhaps shown to An Post as part of this commission. Other slide presentations illustrate the consultancy's role in design management, where they helped organisations to improve aspects of their operations through clear and logical design layouts, samples include; a presentation for Ericsson Microbanc which outlined a new electronic payment system, and a presentation for a client named Rexnord which outlined a proposal to manufacture pawl latches.
The files for this series reflect the multi-disciplinary nature of the commissions undertaken by the KDW in the last few years of its existence, and highlights the successful transition from their original focus on craft-based industries to their embracement of the industrial advancements that were taking place in Ireland during the late 1970s and 1980s.