Grafton Architects and Graphic Relief collaborate on the design of The Ogham Wall to be unveiled at the V&A.

Irish design is represented for the first time at the V&A during LDF in an ambitious Landmark Project: The Ogham Wall. Created by Grafton Architects, winners of numerous international awards including the 2008 World Building of the Year Award, working in conjunction with Graphic Relief, the installation was inspired by the Irish Ogham alphabet, dating from approximately the 4th century AD. The imposing forms of The Ogham Wall will fill the V&A’s Tapestry Gallery as one of a series of international events for Irish Design 2015 (ID2015), a year-long initiative backed by the Irish government promoting and celebrating Irish design in Ireland and internationally.

The installation is monumental in scale, consisting of 23 concrete fins stretching to a height of three meters, standing in the atmospheric surroundings of the V&A’s Tapestry Gallery. Each cluster of fins relates to a letter in the Ogham alphabet and each letter symbolises a native Irish tree. The elemental intensity of the stone-like fins, calls to mind ancient Irish and British sites with circles and standing stones such as Drombeg, Garrane or Lettergorman in County Cork, or Stonehenge in England. The impact creates a multi-layered immersive experience that invites visitors to engage with the tactile surfaces, which vary in texture, temperature and colour.

The fusion of contemporary design thinking with innovative process in the realisation of this landmark project communicates the essence of Irish Design 2015. The Ogham Wall reflects Ireland’s ability to weave storytelling and language with ancient heritage in the creation of a compelling piece of work that has innovation and collaboration at the heart of its developmental process. We are delighted to have supported world renowned Grafton Architects who collaborated with Graphic Relief on this significant and considered installation and to be presenting it in partnership with LDF at the prestigious V&A museum,

explains Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of Irish Design 2015 (ID2015). 

The Tapestry Gallery is the ideal setting for The Ogham Wall. In contrast to the still and quiet atmosphere created by the backdrop of the fine tapestries, the Wall forms a dramatic and imposing installation that is robust and rough, configured as a path for visitors to move between, with the placement of the fins encouraging views of the tapestries from various angles. The 15th Century Devonshire Hunting Tapestries present their pictorial surface to the public, but behind these wonderful surfaces of threaded pictures are hidden a complex weave of threads that make the pattern. This combination of ‘front’ and ‘back’ surfaces is similar to the making of the concrete fins. Visitors can touch and feel the various surfaces of the concrete, exploring the variations and textures contained in each fin.

Each of the 23 fins is unique and cast using a combination of an old-school artisan approach combined with digital moulding technology developed by Graphic Relief. The fins are constructed from a variety of concrete mixes containing various metals that reflect the patterns inspired by various tree bark textures. The project has been sponsored by Techrete Ireland Ltd.

Presenting an installation at the internationally renowned V&A is an incredible opportunity and honour for our company. In developing plans for The Ogham Wall, we wanted to design something that would be visually striking but would also encourage engagement and interaction. Concrete is often considered a ‘poor’ material in the built environment. However, Graphic Relief has developed a very sophisticated mould and mixture of metallics to bring the ancient and modern together, creating beautiful and rich columns that we have placed in an almost rhythmic manner. This exploratory collaboration has allowed us to look at the use of concrete and digital processes as we have not done previously and may inform our future projects,

says Shelley McNamara, Director, Grafton Architects.

This Landmark Project at the V&A is one of a number of Irish design events at LDF this year as part of ID2015. For the fourth year, the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland will present at Tent London. This year’s exhibition entitled Ó, meaning 'from' in the Irish language, will feature beautifully designed products in stone, glass, ceramics, wood and textiles from over 20 designers who are passionate about materials, production and a strong sense of place, including Snug, Ceadogán, Aodh Furniture, Andrew Ludick, Superfolk and Mourne Textiles.

ID2015 will also launch The Souvenir Project, a collection of contemporary souvenirs that explores the local context, championing creative collaborations between Irish designers and makers. The project specially commissioned by ID2015 and curated by Jonathan Legge, Makers & Brothers, will be presented at Rochelle School, Arnold Circus during LDF. A selection of work from The Souvenir Project will be dual sited and available to view at Tent London as part of Ó.


The Ogham Wall

19th-27th September 2015

V&A, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL


- Ends -


For further information and high-res images, click here or contact:

Katherine Sandford-Anderson | Sandford PR | katherine@sandfordpr.com (UK)

Leslie Curtis | Sandford PR | leslie@sandfordpr.com (UK)

Cristina Belmonte | Sandford PR | cristina@sandfordpr.com (All other media)


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About Irish Design 2015

Irish Design 2015 (ID2015) is a year-long programme of events and activities exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish design both in Ireland and internationally. It aims to showcase the very best of Irish design in order to drive job creation, grow exports and increase competitiveness. ID2015 is an island of Ireland initiative engaging the public, the design community and businesses, promoting Irish design in just about every form at home through events and exhibitions while also targeting the export market through trade missions and events in international capitals of design and commerce. ID2015 is being convened by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI), in collaboration with partner organisations, on behalf of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Enterprise Ireland. Irish Design 2015 partners include Founding Partners - MCO Projects; Accommodation Partners - The Doyle Collection; Venue Partners - OPW; Exhibition Partners – DAA; Technology Partners – IBM; Transport Partners – Bus Éireann Expressway; Construction Partners – SISK and Broadcast Partners – RTÉ.


About Grafton Architects

Grafton Architects was established in 1978. Directors Yvonne Farrell & Shelley McNamara are both graduates of UCD, are Fellows of the RIAI, are International Honorary Fellows of the RIBA and are elected members of Aosdána, the eminent Irish Arts organisation. Teachers at the School of Architecture at University College Dublin from 1976 to 2002, they have been visiting professors at EPFL, Lausanne; held the Kenzo Tange chair at GSD Harvard; the Louis Kahn chair at Yale University and are Professors at the Accademia d’Archittettura, Mendrisio, Switzerland. They have been external examiners at numerous universities including Cambridge University and The London Metropolitan School of Architecture. As well as public lectures in Dublin and abroad, including the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin and the Royal Academy in London, they have lectured widely in European and American Schools of Architecture. graftonarchitects.ie


About Graphic Relief

Graphic Relief combines design, engineering and manufacturing to provide clients with luxurious, beautiful and bespoke surfaces. They create beautiful surfaces, engineered to the highest standards. They will work closely with clients to understand and develop the required look and feel, translating ideas into luxurious surface textures, patterns and effects. They manufacture surfaces that can be deeply textured or display photographic levels of detail. Most of what Graphic Relief produces is bespoke and they have developed a range of techniques suitable for concrete, metals and other castable materials. graphicrelief.co.uk


About Techrete

Techrete is the largest company in the design, manufacture and supply of architectural precast cladding to the UK and Irish construction markets. It offers a complete precast solution, from design through manufacture to erection. techrete.com


About LDF

The London Design Festival is an annual event, held to celebrate and promote London as the design capital of the world and as the gateway to the international creative community. londondesignfestival.com

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