Hillgate Public Relations Ltd, 22D Leathermarket Street, London, SE1 3HP
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As an agency that specialises in interiors, there is nothing we love more than daring pattern, bold colour and a fierce woman at the helm of a global brand.
Orla Kiely is one of the UK and Ireland’s most successful designers. Inspired by the upbeat designs of the 1960s and ‘70s, her iconic stylised graphic patterns are both innovative and influential. Recognised as the designer of the iconic ‘Stem’ pattern that first appeared in 2000, her distinctive patterns now appear on ready-to-wear, fragrance bottles, watches, jewellery, homeware and so much more.
When it was revealed the Fashion & Textiles Museum was curating ‘Orla Kiely: A life in Pattern’ just a stone’s throw away from our office, we couldn’t resist a visit and so popped down for some afternoon inspiration.
“Orla Kiely is among a distinguished group of influential designers who have defined the last two centuries. In the same way that C.F.A Voysey (1857-1941) walked the visual world from William Morris to Modernism, Orla Kiely has walked the world from the Minimalism of the 1990s into a colourful world of 21st century pattern.” (Fashion and Textiles Museum)
With a global audience in thrall to the rhythms and repeats of her designs, the exhibition explored the power of pattern to transform the way we feel. ‘Pattern is not a trend for me, to be taken up one minute and abandoned the next when the winds of fashion change. Pattern is in me. It is my life.’
With a refreshing perspective on design, the exhibition took us on a journey of the development of her brand. Beginning with her Irish upbringing, Kiely often recalls vivid memories of her family kitchen with its olive-green Formica cupboards and worktops, entire walls covered with coordinating green and white patterned tiles, and a striking orange gloss ceiling. This original inspiration is so evident in her work. Colour and texture are the key components in a graphic approach that sees motifs pared back to seemingly simple but carefully constructed forms, then assembled into systematic and orderly arrangements.
The exhibition masterfully showcased her designs in fashion with oversized garments worthy of an Alice in Wonderland movie set, an army of mannequins showcasing her designs over time and interactive films of her design processes and recent campaigns.
As if it wasn’t possible to love Orla Kiely any more, her involvement in a number of initiatives regarding the environment, sustainability and charitable work made us respect her even more. Campaigns with Britta regarding reusable water bottles, the 2008 Green Stem eco-conscious handbag collection, her designs for the Tesco ‘Bag for Life’ campaign and her contributions to the work of MacMillan Cancer Support are extraordinary.
An exhibition that will inspire, inform and excite – well worth a visit.