Exhibition showcasing Irish design presents "a fusion between the old and the new"

Movie: the Liminal – Irish design at the threshold exhibition presents work by Irish designers embracing both traditional craft techniques and new digital technology, explains co-curator Alex Milton in this movie filmed in Milan.

Liminal: Irish design at the threshold exhibition

Liminal – Irish design at the threshold is the headline exhibition of Irish Design 2015, a year-long initiative to raise the profile of Irish designers. It launched in Milan during the city's design week in April and is travelling to New York, London and Eindhoven throughout the year.

Liminal: Irish design at the threshold exhibition
Models by Grafton Architects

The exhibition showcases work by a wide range of designers at different scales, from large architectural models of Grafton Architects' competition-winning designs for the University Campus UTEC in the Peruvian capital Lima, to ceramics by designers such as Andrew Ludick and Derek Wilson.

Liminal: Irish design at the threshold exhibition
Ceramics by Andrew Ludick

"We're showcasing the very best of Irish creativity," says Milton in the movie, which was produced by Dezeen for Irish Design 2015. "It's a year-long initiative seeking to promote Irish design in all its forms."

Liminal: Irish design at the threshold exhibition
Ceramics by Derek Wilson

The exhibition features a range of new pieces, which were developed by pairs of designers and design companies especially for the show.

"We've chosen a number of emerging and established designers, design studios and makers and we've brought them together – a little bit of match making – to collaborate and develop new products," Milton explains.

Liminal: Irish design at the threshold exhibition
Frame Chair and Hang Table by Notion and Mourne Textiles

One such collaboration saw Dublin-based design studio Notion team up with Mourne Textiles to produce a range of new furniture incorporating wool textiles that were originally launched at the 1951 Milan Triennale.

"Mourne Textiles have this amazing tradition," Milton says. "They displayed a series of their products in 1951 here in Milan and [Notion] have been able to rework some of that heritage into a new range of products."

Liminal: Irish design at the threshold exhibition
Casta chair by Claire Anne O'Brien

Milton believes that the ability of Irish designers to repurpose their heritage is one of the things that sets them apart.

"That fusion between the old and the new and that fusion between material and story is what we've really tried to capture [at the exhibition]," he says.

Liminal: Irish design at the threshold exhibition

The recent influx of large technology companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook setting up their European headquarters in Dublin has led to a burgeoning community of digital and interaction designers, Milton claims.

"Dublin is now a hotbed of digital technology and the culture that has developed around that is fostering a really interesting scene," he says.

Liminal: Irish design at the threshold exhibition
Lights controlled by Design Partners and Seed Lab's new bluetooth interface

Design consultancy Design Partners and software company Seed Lab developed a new tactile controller called Silvair, which is designed to control all the smart technology in a home from one device.

"It's a wonderful new bluetooth interface that moves the experience away from a tablet or an iPhone and into physical objects, which respond to movement, touch and rotation," Milton explains.

Liminal: Irish design at the threshold exhibition
Ray Junior school chair by Perch and Labofa

Milton believes that Irish design doesn't have a particular aesthetic, but says one of the characteristics of Irish designers is a kind of empathy or modesty, which he links back to the importance of storytelling in Irish culture.

"I think that goes back to the conviviality of Irish people and our need to tell stories and hear stories," he explains. "Irish design isn't about a style, it's something much deeper than that."

Liminal: Irish design at the threshold exhibition
Float by Perch and Thomas Montgomery

Milton provides Dublin-based design consultancy Perch as an example of this. The company is presenting two seating products at the exhibition, which are designed to improve the user's posture.

"The interesting thing about Perch is that they develop products through a very long process of intense ergonomic and user research to produce chairs that fundamentally change the way that you interact with seating," Milton says. "I think that makes them different from other international design practices."

Liminal: Irish design at the threshold exhibition

Many of the products on show at the exhibition will continue to be developed and improved throughout the year as they travel from location to location.

"While this exhibition reflects Irish heritage, it's really about showcasing our future and the positive impact that the year of Irish Design will have on the design sector in Ireland and designers based at home and globally," Milton concludes.

Alex Milton, programme director of Irish Design 2015
Alex Milton, programme director of Irish Design 2015

This movie was produced by Dezeen for Irish Design 2015. It was filmed at Liminal – Irish design at the threshold in Milan, which ran from 14-19 April in Milan's Tortona district. The music featured is a track by Newport producer 800xL.