Ireland’s Design Renaissance

The Irish are known all over the world for our art, literature and music, and our reputation in the field of design is growing too. As design becomes more and more important, we must nurture our indigenous talent if we want to reap the benefits at home and in the global marketplace

by Róisín Lafferty


Ask anyone which designers they like and nine times out of ten they will name a fashion designer. And yet design is so much more than that. Look around you. Absolutely everything you see has been designed. A newspaper, a lamp, a phone, a font, a fork, a stethoscope.


Dublin South Residence interiors designed by Kingston Lafferty Design
Dublin South Residence interiors designed by Kingston Lafferty Design in collaboration with Brazil Associates


Ireland is not automatically associated with design either, not in the way that Italy, Sweden or Japan are, for example. We’re better known internationally for our art, literature and music, and more recently for our film and animation. Design, for the most part, has taken a back seat and yet its scope is so broad. It’s a plan or drawing or blueprint produced to show the look and function or workings of a building, a garment or any other object before it is made.


Dublin South Residence designed by Kingston Lafferty Design
Dublin South Residence designed by Kingston Lafferty Design in collaboration with Brazil Associates


While I can design the interior of a home, hotel, restaurant or office, I wouldn’t know the first thing about designing a website or a medical device. But I am connected to these practitioners and professionals under the umbrella of design. Design pervades all our lives.

The Irish government designated 2015 the Year of Design. Irish Design 2015 was about harnessing this power and working to support society, educators and students, designers, the public sector and businesses. While the year proved successful, we need to look longer term and ensure that every year is a year of design.

The story of Irish design is one that evolved slowly since the foundation of the state and more rapidly in the last 25 years, with the 1994- 2007 boom and advent of the internet transforming lives and design like no other moment in time. More recently, the definition of design has expanded from a more limited view of styling and appearance to a perspective in which it plays an integral role in the innovation process across the industrial complex. Design as concept and practice is now integral to our socio-economic way of life.


Dublin South Residence interior designed by Kingston Lafferty Design
Sitting Room of Dublin South Residence interior designed by Kingston Lafferty Design in collaboration with Brazil Associates


Ireland is a curiosity to many countries; we have our own distinct brand and the landscape we carved out in the arts must now be replicated for design. Ireland is respected on a global level and
it is time to prioritise Irish design, and to realise and appreciate its contribution to our society and our well-being as well as its international influence.

The gloom of the 2008 recession encouraged a huge swathe of creativity and entrepreneurship that is now coming to fruition across all design disciplines in Ireland. As a result, we are experiencing a design renaissance. Support for this movement should continue. Government is catching on to the overall value that creative thinking and design can add to the Irish economy. More than 50,000 people in this country classify themselves as designers. The overall financial contribution to the Irish economy must be acknowledged and these creatives must be supported to continue in their growth and development. Recent research suggests creative jobs are far less at risk from automation than other areas of employment, so design, in all its guises, will more than ever attract the brightest and best.


Dublin South Residence
Dublin South Residence interiors designed by KLD in collaboration with Brazil Associates


The Institute of Designers Ireland (IDI) has long been an advocate of Irish design. This year, I have taken on the role as president. I hope to highlight the success and importance of Irish design at both a national and international level. We must make the mental shift so that design thinking and appreciation become part of the fabric of society. The IDI awards are a showcase of some of the best design being produced here and give a good insight into the international standard of work across all design disciplines. This is much more than surface-level beauty; these designers are problem solvers, creative thinkers and inventors.

Bushfield Residence Bespoke Joinery by kld interior design
Bushfield Residence Bespoke Joinery by KLD


Our collective understanding and appreciation of design is improving. From my own perspective, more attention is being paid to the importance of interiors and there’s a greater appreciation of  the impact space has on well-being. At KLD [Kingston Lafferty Design], we always look at who uses a space and how they use it. We consider the best possible way to enhance their well-being while also delivering aesthetically beautiful and functional spaces. We’re currently working on a large office space over seven floors in Belfast in which we are installing a wellness room to provide an area of calm for employees away from the workspace. It is minimal in design with the use of pale tones, timber, mirrors and planting, combined with soft lighting, which are proven to enhance mental and physical well-being. This isn’t a trend;this is the future.

Róisín Lafferty at Hatch Student Accommodation in Cork. Hat designed by Martha Lynn Millinery
Róisín Lafferty at Hatch Student Accommodation in Cork. Hat designed by Martha Lynn Millinery


Ireland operates on a global playing field. We are not competing with ourselves; we are competing with design practices and professionals across the world. The internet has brought ready-made markets to our fingertips. We should not shirk from this. I set up my own company, KLD, at the height of the recession. It was risky, but it paid off. Life is short; you must take risks. After almost a decade in business, it is only in the last year that KLD has enjoyed sustained international interest in showcasing our work. What are the benefits of appearing in an international arena? For starters, current and prospective clients’ perception is huge. If you are aligned with international designers, it shows people that your work is of an international standard. As well as raising one’s profile, it also increases one’s visibility in a broader marketplace, opening up project and client possibilities. Cumulatively, this adds value to Irish businesses and to the Irish economy as
a whole.

Bushfield Residence Kitchen
Bushfield Residence Kitchen designed by KLD, extension designed by Noji Architects


So what is the future of Irish design? Can we ever compete with the likes of Milan or Paris? Personally, I think we will increasingly draw on international influences as we travel and see the world and bring our learnings home. Ireland currently ranks 39th in the world design rankings. The US, China, Japan and Italy enjoy the top four slots. With our creative talent and excellent educational facilities, there is no reason Ireland can’t climb this ladder. It won’t be easy, but we must start by nurturing and showcasing the existing pool of talent that we have here.


Mekan Cover Bushfield Kingston Lafferty Design
Our beautiful Bushfield Residence featured in Turkish magazine Mekan


Indigenous companies  shouldn’t feel a need to hire designers from outside of Ireland when there is an abundance of talent here. As a country, we must start from within and empower our own designers.  Creative minds, critical thinking, our unique history and our fringe location all combine to make Irish design unique. Ireland is brimming with creative minds and great design ideas; now we need to show the world.


This article first appeared in the Sunday Business Post on 6 October 2019.

Hatch Student Living and The Hatch Rooms

The Hatch Rooms and Hatch Student Living launch in Cork.


Hatch entrance
Hatch Reception


Hatch Cork is the flagship location for the new student living brand. In a highly competitive market, Kingston Lafferty Design were appointed to define the brand’s visual identity and tasked with creating an impactful, experiential and collaborative ground floor space, encompassing reception, co-working, chill out, study, canteen and interactive spaces to provide inhabitants with an exciting environment and ultimately to add significant value and visual appeal to the brand. KLD also consulted on the rooms, fixtures, fittings and palette, design and decoration.


Hatch Cork Kingston Lafferty Design

Nest Area including Cinema 

The Hatch Rooms and Hatch Student Living have launched in Cork city. The business model works in a similar way to co-working spaces with an entry base level cost which has additional extras to increase spend. KLD worked with the client on these aspects to increase the overall offering. These items to include gym, laundry, private cinema area, coffee kiosk, yoga studio space and a hotel offering for the summer months.

The 265-room property opened in June 2019 after having undergone an extensive €25 million upgrade.

The property at Copley Street in Cork city is controlled by Hatch Student Living with financial backing from Elkstone, a multi-family office based in Dublin. Hatch acquired the property in February 2018 and set about upgrading a co-living property for students driven by increased demand in the city.

Mirrors, Planting and Lighting used to maximise light and promote well being


The story of Hatch Copley Court was to create a happy and unique space, tailored to the students’ needs and wants by using flexible simple creative design. The vision of HATCH was to expand, create and inspire by employing a modular system and creating a template to enable HATCH to grow. This template can now be adapted to each location, creating brand recognition on a global scale.

Hatch Tunnel by Kingston Lafferty Design
Tunnel with hang out Nook



With our design we energised and brought the space to life, making it not only aesthetically pleasing but also a nice place to be. Every perfectly framed space is a performance opportunity with the immersive design imploring interaction from its users, ensuring that every day tells a different story.



A garden zone connects the outside in, frequented with olive trees, hanging plants & floors covered in grass. The connection with the outside and biophilia was important as there was a lack of natural light in certain areas. Other finishing materials such as mirrors allowed light to bounce throughout, creating infinity spaces and allowing spaces to appear larger. The use of playful shapes in acrylic & perspex, with stripes enveloping walls/ floors and ceilings along with giant lollipop lights make for a magical Willy Wonka type mood.


Hatch by Kingston Lafferty Design
Private Nook


As well as the playfulness, it has also a grown up feel with a muted colour palette in tiling and upholstery details to counterbalance the childlike, sculptural elements. The apartments & corridors are an extension of the entrance social space, carrying the same design concept throughout each apartment but adapting it to make it more liveable. The bedrooms and living spaces have complimentary finishes with a muted colour palette to contrast against the slick rich charcoal coloured joinery finishes with subtle tiling detail. The element of playfulness was carried through with colourful and sculptural pieces of furniture added in the form of chairs, rugs and lighting. Large scale architectural artwork was hung to add a sense of colour and comfort.


Hatch Cork Bedroom
Hatch Bedroom



The Hatch Rooms launched on June 19 2019.


BOdy Painted Models at launch of Hatch Cork June 2019
Our fabulous painted ladies, Abigail Russell and Dee Power, at the launch of Hatch Student Accommodation Cork


Hatch Launch with Roisin Lafferty and Becky Russell
KLD Directors, Becky Russell and Roisin Lafferty



Aisling Fitzgibbon and Fiona Stone at the launch of Hatch Student Accommodation Cork, compromising Marsh’s Yard and the Steelworks on Copley Street, Cork. Photo Kieran Harnett
KLD superstars Aisling Fitzgibbon and Fiona Stone



Hatch Launch with Kingston Lafferty Design
KLD Creative Director Roisin Lafferty with Hatch Founders Robert McNally and Richard Brierley


Getting the Hatch Rooms open on time and on budget was a major feat.  The hotel was fully booked on its first weekend. Bookings continued to be strong and right now almost all of the student accommodation has been taken. The magic of this project is how well everyone worked together. KLD’s vision was bold, daring and innovative and required a lot of specialisation and commitment. Whether it was luck or whether you make your luck, everybody came on board and shared the vision. The devil was in the detail. Now each room in the hotel has beautiful finishes, art on the wall, stylish furniture and finishes. The common area is impactful, fun, suited to its audience and caters for a range of facilities. Hatch is the next evolution in student living.


Check our this article in Wallpaper Online magazine which features the The Hatch Rooms.



Client ………………………………………………Hatch

Architects…………………………………………Reddy Architecture

Contractor ………………………………………John Paul Construction

QS & Project Management………….. KSN

Joinery ……………………………………………Greengate Joinery

3D Render ……………………………………..3D Design Bureau