The Kite Design Studio, a pilot project spearheaded by Waterford City Council and Waterford City Enterprise Board is, this month, celebrating two enterprising years in business in the heart of Waterford’s Viking Triangle.
Situated in a state of the art facility in Henrietta Street this unique design collective houses some of Waterford’s most talented designers and artists including glass blowers, crystal engraver, a goldsmith and several start up design enterprises.
The project initiated by Waterford City Manager, Michael Walsh and former Chief Executive of Waterford City Enterprise Board Bill Rafter, back in 2009, took almost two years to complete and was formulated to develop the Viking Triangle as a key tourism area in the city and to showcase Waterford’s long crystal making tradition.
Today the Kite Design Studio is home to a host of craft and design micro enterprises including Sean Egan Artglass. Sean Egan, a Master Engraver with over 40 years experience, has built up a global reputation as a talented and creative craftsman, whose work has been presented to celebrities and presidents.
In the world of show biz, Sean was commissioned to create a piece honouring the Monty Python member Graham Chapman who died in 1989. In addition to this, one of the most renowned crystal pieces remembering those who perished on September, 11th, 2001 was crafted by Sean and presented to then US Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney.
In 2013, Sean had the great honour of designing and crafting the stunning crystal piece, entitled the “Gathering Bowl”, which was presented to US President Barack Obama by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD following the traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Sharing floor space with Sean is The Irish Handmade Glass Company, which rose from the ashes of the closure of the Waterford Crystal plant in 2009. The founders Danny Murphy, Tony Hayes, Derek Smith and Richard Rowe established the company in order to preserve Waterford’s proud glassmaking tradition and have almost 150 years cumulative experience in glass blowing and cutting.
Producing 100% mouth blown and hand cut coloured crystal the Irish Handmade Glass Company has quickly become one of Ireland’s leading crystal manufacturers.
One of the newest tenants at the Kite Design Studio is Button and Co. The company, established by Waterford goldsmith Elaine Sarah Comerford, creates unique and innovative jewellery collections.
No stranger to accolades, in 2009, Elaine Sarah was a contestant on RTE’s Dragons’ Den and was backed by then Dragon, Niall O’ Farrell. She was on the judge’s panel for the Young Entrepreneur Awards in Kerry, guest speaker at Dublin’s Rotary Club as part of their International Women’s Day Celebrations and Button and Co. has won several industry awards including Best Product and Editor’s Choice at the London International Jewellery Show.
Most recently Waterford City Enterprise Board and Waterford Adult Education Centre (WAEC) launched “First Flight”,an enterprise programme which assists small craft start-ups. First Flight is working with a group of craft and fashion design students, providing them with workspace, mentoring assistance and practical business advice.
The three businesses currently undertaking the First Flight Programme are Andrew Phelan of Crea Jewellery Design, Lucia Domoradova of Lutsia Fashions and Lenka Jindrichova of Blossom Jewellery Design.
According to Mr. Ciaran Cullen, CEO, Waterford City Enterprise Board, the Kite Design Studio project has had two great years assisting start – up craft enterprises. “The premise of the Kite Design Studio is simply to encourage, harness, and showcase the high calibre of creative talent in Waterford.”
“We are delighted that the businesses within the Kite Studio have flourished and as we see them more and more in an international platform it acts as a reminder of the phenomenal artistic talent in Waterford.”
“Over the last two years some of the start-ups which were housed at the Studio have moved on to bigger premises. We are delighted to have worked from the outset with such talent on their path to success; Bonzie Crotty, a vintage inspired designer, Stradbally Jewellery, which produces quality handmade silver jewellery and fine art printer Anne McDonnell Murphy.”
From jewellery makers to glass engravers and silversmiths to fashion designers, the Kite Design Studio is an enviable and ambitious design centre that showcases the imagination and talent that Waterford proudly possesses.
The design studio is open to the public six days a week and visitors have the unique opportunity to experience in-house designers working on their
designs in situ.
For more information about the Kite Design Studio call along to the Henrietta Street premises, call 051 858914, or check out Kite Design Studio on Facebook.