Orla Kiely is most well known for her famous pattern designs reminiscent of the 60s and 70s, which have been stamped on hang bags, hats and even lampshades across the world. Originally from Dublin, Kiely studied at the National College of Art and Design before relocating to London for postgraduate study at the Royal College of Art.
Her successful career has included collaborations with Harrods of London, British chain Heal’s and Target to name a few. In her new book “Pattern” out later this month Kiely explores the design process and her main inspirations.
Speaking about her new book Kiely told the Boston Globe that initially she feared she wouldn’t have enough material to fill the pages. “When [the publisher] first mentioned it, it sounded quite daunting. . . . We’re always working so when we stopped and took an overview, we saw how much we’ve gathered. I worried that we wouldn’t have enough for the book and we ended up with too much. We had loads to edit out.”
Kiely admitted that at first it was strange seeing people out and about wearing her designs.
“In the beginning it was a huge buzz. I went up to one lady carrying my bag on the street. It was very early morning. I told her, “That’s one of my bags.’’ And she said, “No it’s not, it’s my bag.’’ I didn’t say that again to anyone.”
The Irish designer loves to sift through thrift and vintage shops and reveals that she like to look for ideas in the second hand stores. She is a huge fan of mid century furniture, especially anything Danish.
Advising those who are apprehensive about introducing patterns into their home decor, Kiely gives the solid advice to “be bold with one thing. Do a strong print on a wall or sofa.”
One of Kiely’s latest projects was designing the interior of a car, a Citroën DS3. “We redid the interior so it looks more like a house would. It will be nice for women.” The car market can be quite male dominated and Kiely added that it is nice to have an interior that isn’t all black.
Kiely’s book “Pattern” is available for pre-order on Amazon.