Essence of Design

The Essence of DesignI attended the Essence of Design Seminar on Design, Craft & The Consumer in Leitrim. I was invited to this seminar by Bernie Murphy project coordinator of the Fashion Textile Design Hub. I didn’t really know what to expect but I was so glad to attend and have the opportunity to see the Leitrim Design House. Leitrim has a great design infrastructure in place with The Dock, The Fab Lab and The Glen Centre supporting artists and designers. The Design seminar had an interesting panel: Eddie Shanahan a fashion and retail consultant hosted the seminar with 5 guest speakers:
Leitrim Design House Speakers

Jean Whitfield – Jeweller

Erika Marks – Jeweller / Lecturer NCAD

Krishma Kusurkar – Print & Accessories Designer

Patrick McHugh – Web developer & Photographer

Brigitta Varadi – Artist

Eddie Shanahan introduced the seminar and described design and craft as being two sides of the one coin. How design and craftsmanship should not try to beat price but compete with the best. How we as designers should research our consumers and see how we can make their life better, allow our products to enrich their lives.

Design is a balancing act! We must not allow price to be the starting point but rather value be the end point and balance this with the need to make a profit to survive.


Erika Marks gave some advise on being creative:

It is important to be organized. Majority of us procrastinate most of the time and only become productive when deadlines loom. If we can push ourselves to be organized and do things on time we will enjoy the design process a lot more. This is very hard to do though, having tried numerous times myself but I will continue to try. There is some time management for creatives.

Erika advises to awaken the mind try to do something that scares you daily as this will shake you out of yourself, Erika’s example was public speaking, it really scares her but I have to say she gave an amazing talk.

Do something out of habit like getting on a bus you don’t know where it is going or brush your teeth with the opposite hand. Whatever you do break your habit as this creates new connections in the brain.

Marketingdigital marketing chart

In respects to marketing, we as designers should look at different ways to market ourselves. We have all the digital tools to hand Facebook, twitter, instragram, google plus etc. Patrick highlighted there are many more digital tools than just social media. Check the image across. We should be using these as tools and not letting them control our day.

Karishma gave a talk on branding, how we as designers should sale our process along with our designs. Krishma is in the start up phase of her business and she uses a video to tell her story and market her business – Storytelling for your brand, check the video below.


This video allows customers to get to know Krishma and buy more than a product, she ads further value. The video is inspired by “Made by Hand” videos that look into the background of companies as a selling point. You can check “Storytelling for your brand” resources here.

I love when designers share resources, not everyone does. Helping each other is what builds strong design relationships. Sharing knowledge does not mean someone will copy you, I hope it is more that they are inspired and create something very different. If we all helped each other I believe our innovation would soar. [but if they do copy i am always told by a good friend its a high form of flattery].

Branding and marketing yourself is important for every business. Patrick is a web developer and photographer specializing in Fashion and Textiles. He is the go to guy in this area. He advises strong images are key, a picture paints a 1000 words, but the future is video. This ties in with Karishma as her short but s

Leitrim Design House Business & Product Programmes

Leitrim Design House has the following courses available this year:

  • Beginners Business & Product Development
    4days over 8 weeks in April – May
  • Advanced Product Development Bootcamp
    3days over 6 weeks in April – May

Jean Whitfield completed the above courses and she now has her product in three shops in Ireland. Jean learned to have a complete package with her product so she is able to approach retailers and her jeweller is immediately able to be displayed on her prepaid stand that is light and has the logo and all the products work as a set. Jean planned out how it will best promote and sell itself but be convenient for the retailer. The product development course helped encourage and advise Jean on her creative business. The programmes allowed Jean to meet designers and bounce ideas and receive critical advice she may not receive elsewhere. Our loved ones are not as critical as strangers as we know.

Additionally Leitrim Design House will hold special admissions for designers makers to have their product in the shop in May. Appointments will give each individual 15mins to present their collection to the panel. This will be to have the products ready for trading early Autumn.

For information on any of the above opportunities contact Glenda at or phone 0719650550

Applying for all these opportunities are important. Brigitta Varadi spoke about applications for grants, craft fairs, exhibitions etc. Brigitta’s advice was persevere with applications. There is a very high rejection rate with applications for design/craft. You may only be accepted 3% of the time. Thats 97% rejection. That is high! But persevere!

I truly enjoyed this seminar and believe you should attend as many talks as possible as it is rare you don’t come away with something! There was a lot more discussed at this seminar but this is what I came away with, I hope you find this somewhat helpful! Any design talks you believe is a must attend please comment below.


About Fashion Textile Design Centre

Louise Porter is the blogger for the Fashion & Textile Design Centre. Louise has a degree in Fashion & Textile Design degree and a Masters in Business.
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