Throughout 2015, Irish Design supported around 180 local projects across the island of Ireland that explored, nurtured, raised awareness of, and promoted the value of design in every form. This month, we look back over some of these projects and what they achieved in a series of blog posts contributed by project organisers and initiators.
Project 2: Cocktails+Design at The Liquor Rooms
After working at the Irish Architecture Foundation, I became Arts and Culture Manager of The Liquor Rooms and was determined to incorporate a design education element into the bar’s new cultural programme. While working with The Liquor Rooms, I realised that there were a number of ways in which the drinks industry worked closely with Irish designers. After pitching a Cocktails+Design talks series to ID2015, I was introduced to Paul Finnegan of MOLA Architecture who organises the IDI Design Socials. Together we co-curated a year-long series at The Liquor Rooms that aimed to promote and celebrate collaborations between Irish designers and the Irish drinks industry. The series was free to attend, and the audience enjoyed complimentary cocktail samples and a special cocktail on offer each month.
Our goal was to educate people from non-design backgrounds about the value of design and encourage commissions and collaborations, as well as educating younger people from design backgrounds about the thought processes and stories behind collaborative Irish design projects. As the series began to take shape, my first step was to connect design and drinks through the branding of the series itself. I hired One Cut Design to create a strong and unique brand identity for the series, with a new design for each topic.
We wanted to expand the topics to cover more than just what people thought design typically was. The topics for each monthly talk ranged from product design to film, graphics, interiors, media, craft, fashion, architecture, furniture and technology. Each talk had two speakers who would focus on at least one project that connected with the drinks industry, as well as their own work and process. When searching for speakers, it was obvious that design has always been an integral part of the industry, from the craft involved in creating anything from barrels to aprons, to the branding and design of a new product. Speakers included George Boyle discussing the architecture of the Teeling Distillery, Bompas & Parr talking about designing the tasting rooms in the Guinness Storehouse, Alex Fegan of Atom films sharing the process behind his film The Irish Pub, and Dolmen going into detail about drinks technology. For the Cocktails+Craft talk, we even had our own bartenders on stage demonstrating the art of craft cocktails.
By the end of the year, 60-140 people had attended each monthly talk. According to audience surveys, the talks were successful in educating attendees about Irish design and its value in the drinks industry. The talks also encouraged attendees, who came from a variety of backgrounds, to collaborate with other industries.
At the end of the year, the Cocktails+Design talk series was nominated for an IDI Design Award in the ID2015 Special Award for Collaborations. Amongst the many other nominations were Indigo & Cloth for the Teeling Whiskey Brand Strategy, Salvage Press for an Irish Tale of the Black Stuff, Steve Simpson’s illustration for the Jameson Limited Edition Bottle 2015 and Jordan Ralph Design for the Tullamore Dew Trilogy Box. The shortlisting of these drinks-related projects in one award ceremony alone confirmed for us that we had tapped into something important, and with more products being created and distilleries opening year on year there will be many more opportunities for designers to be involved in the drinks industry.
Both the Irish drinks and design industries are dynamic, vibrant, and always looking for something new to create. When the two work together, it’s not just about one off projects: it’s about creating a lasting legacy. The series was intended to showcase great collaborations and hopefully we have encouraged more to happen in the future.
The Liquor Rooms is an award-winning cocktail bar and arts venue which hosts a variety of events - check out the calendar here.
They are about to launch a new talks series in 2016 so watch this space!
Words: Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan