Connemara student is first Irish winner of furniture design award

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Galway Daily news Connemara student is first Irish winner of furniture design award

A student of Atlantic Technological University’s Connemara campus has become the first ever Irish winner of a furniture design competition.

Kevin O’Kennedy has just completed his final year on the Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Furniture Design and Manufacture programme at ATU’s Connemara campus.

He was recently named the winner of the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation Furniture Design Prize, the first time it has gone to someone outside of the UK.

Kevin, who is from Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo took home the £1,000 prize for his chair design titled “An Chathaoir Oidhreachta (Legacy Chair)”.

The award was presented to him by trustee of the Foundation Mary V Mullin at the launch of Legacy, a special exhibition of graduate’s work at Interface Inagh, Connemara.

Kevin designed the chair to be used not only as a place to sit down but also to relax to a rocking motion.

The structure of the chair is made from oak and the cushions are made with a foam filling and a Foxford herringbone weave textile cover. The oak frame is finished in a natural Osmo oil.

The four bridle joints add a beautiful aesthetic to the piece with the contrasting grain formations. This chair is designed to be manufactured to stand the test of time so that it can become a legacy, passed down from generation to generation.

“It was an honour to have my chair design recognised as award worthy amongst such a talented group of designers.”

“Winning the award has been the highlight of my four years in ATU Connemara and I’d like to thank The Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation for this opportunity.” says Kevin.

The project was launched in November 2021 by lecturers Jeremy Madden and Dr Susan Rogers for final year students of the Furniture Design course.

Throughout the year the students were supported by advisor to the project Alan Tilbury, award-winning furniture designer and educator.

Acknowledging his contribution to the project, Mary Mullin describes Alan as “a talented designer whose wide body of work ranges from the Cathedral Chair for the Archbishop of Canterbury to public park seating in Bristol.”

“He is a gifted and dedicated teacher who has shared his knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm for detailed design with a generosity of spirit with the students who participated in this project.”

Established in 2012, The Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation preserves the legacy of the pioneering 20th century furniture and textile designers.

It aims to promote appreciation and understanding of design and provides opportunities for the general public and students to further their study of design.

The prize is one way in which the foundation supports this endeavor by making awards to students of design.

All ten designs were exhibited at Interface Inagh, Connemara from 19 to 21 May.

The winning design can also be viewed at the annual summer show which runs at the ATU Connemara campus in Letterfrack village from 21 June to 19 August 2022.