A week in the life of...

Our blog tries to give students and the public an insight into the working week of a Graphic Designer, an Interior Designer (Avril Murphy Allen, a free-lance Interior Designer and presenter of RTE's Desperate Houses) and a Product Designer.  Our contributors talk about their business and  projects they are working on and relevant items that caught their attention!

Why Should You Care About Typography?


While the Industrial Revolution saw some great leaps in mankinds advancement of mechanics such as the automotive, locomotive and flight, and medicine (as a result of the overcrowded disease ridden cities), these advancements would have been nothing without the prolific amount of printing contributing to mankinds education, making reading a necessary skill. Advancements with metal working gave rise to a new breed of printers who used sturdier printing plates to print tens of thousands of the same layout from one printing plate.

This in turn allowed the Victorian Graphic Designer to create many new fonts, so to define and distinguish those designs abover the competition. Typographers such as Herman Ihlenburg and John F. Cumming were leaders in creating remarkably complex letter sets used towards the end of the 19th Century.

These days we tend to associate styles of type with the emmotion or mood that we attempt to instill in our readers. Graphic Design is used for more than selling your idea, but to associate a feeling we regard as appropriate along side the graphic or type we wish to afflict on the people who view it.

Check out these uses of typography who say that "If you think typography is simply about personal whim, you just haven't been looking at it the right way."

Herman Ihlenburg

The Home Office


More and more I'm been asked to design ‘Home Office’s’ for clients and I’ve taken on a project in my own home to make my working space more efficient. The ‘Home Office’ has become very popular over the last couple of years.  Whether it’s for professional reasons or just for keeping up with correspondence and weekly administration, it’s important that the space you work in is enjoyable.

The main requirements for a home office are a desk, a comfortable chair, good storage and light. When deciding on a work area in your home, choose a place that has plenty of light. Good light creates an atmosphere of motivation so you need to cater for dark, shorter winter days and evenings with good task lighting. Adequate storage is also very important as it will enable you to keep your work space clutter free. The smaller your office space the more uniform your storage should be as it’s easier on the eye.

If working full-time from home try separate your work life from home life so the lines between the two don’t blur and it becomes difficult to have down time. If you are unable to allocate a small room you could partition a small area with either a movable screen or purpose built armoire. Don’t put your working area in your bedroom as this room should be a haven for resting.

Colour: Small offices are often painted white to appear more spacious but white isn’t the most inspirational colour to sit in front of. If you do choose a colour it should be a colour that you love as you might be sitting at your desk each day. The colour should be stimulating without being overpowering. Green’s tend to be good colours for study’s as they are both relaxing and nurturing. Colour is so personal, even as I write the colour ‘green’, I’m wondering what colour you are conjuring up in your mind! I’ve just painted one wall in my home office/T.V. room/music room Farrow & Ball, Teresa’s Green... and I’m enjoying it immensely.

Upcycling 2011


My ‘Upcycling’ seminar at Roisin Cross Silks went down very well. We had a full house and why not? When people are spending less on Interiors it’s always good to learn new tricks, enabling you to re-energise your home, without breaking the bank.

One subject that did come up last Saturday was ‘Shabby Chic’- a phrase coined during the recession to describe a style of interiors. When it was mentioned I just had to say ‘S-T-O-P’… It’s ok to design your home out of a skip when you’re a student but as you mature so too does your home, as your home should reflect you and your personality. If you are ‘upcycling’ it’s important that you do it properly or not at all.

You can source your item at home or at one of the many auction houses or second hand shops. I bought this old plywood side table at Oxfam Home, on Francis street. Having sanded it, primed it, lightly sanded it again, I opted for a stressed wood finish on the legs and faux marble finish on the top.

We’re planning another upcycling day on Saturday 28th May 2011.

Before 'Upcycling'

New Year 2011

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Before I give my tips for 2011 I wanted to share some reflections as we move into the New Year.  I’ve been thinking a lot about how the current economic situation influences the way we design our homes today. Apart from the trend of less expensive design solutions, when we do have money to spend, it is even more important to plan an interiors project, and think it through, so that expensive mistakes are not made.

My philosophy as an Interior Designer has always been that my role is to help my clients express their own design ideas.  For this reason my own practice has been one of coaching my clients so that they articulate their ideas and manifest them in interiors for which they feel ownership.  I suspect also that the need for us to live with the spaces we create for longer, will force us to be more involved in the design as well as more involved in the budget.

Personalization is very strong in Interiors in 2011, not just tailored to your needs but also reflective of you as an individual.  While my interiors coaching does bring out the interior designer in my clients there is also an increase in the number of people updating their own skills, giving themselves the ability and confidence to play around with their own interiors.  In addition to the possibility to take an Interior Design course (and this is where I can introduce a shameless plug for Dublin institute of Design), don’t loose sight of the opportunity to re-skill in something like specialist painting, sewing or furniture restoration.  In this way you can follow the trends of this economic age of austerity that will be characterized by diy, re-use and re-cycling.

Upcycling is a trend that has evolved over the past year.  At its most simple level this is a way to update old furniture and add a personal touch to your home.  I am running a seminar on February 12th on ‘Upcycling’, with not just the inspirational ideas but also the know how on how to go about such a project. For more details and to book a place log on to

For 2011, colour as always will be significant.  2011 will see the neutrals still holding their own. The reason why they are so popular is they are very easy to live with. I actually think we get bored with our interiors so by keeping stronger colours to the accessories we use in our designs, makes it easy to update a room when you want to and at a budget that matches the times we are in.

Honey Days

Last month I was approached by Down Syndrome Ireland to help them with the Honey Days campaign which they were launching in October. This campaign is a key part of Down Syndrome Ireland's fundraising calendar. Funds raised from the campaign are shared between the National organisation and local branches and so monies raised support a wide range of projects at both local and national.

I was asked to design a logo and poster for the Boyne Valley Honey Days campaign which is running throughout the month of October. I created a simple fun logo with a soft rounded font which incorporates the Boyne valley logo all combined to to make one logo.




These last few weeks seem to be all about sofa’s for me. Maybe because I was buying for my own home and two of my clients were looking for new ones. For myself I needed a cream or white one. My room is quite small so I didn’t want a dark expanse of colour cluttering up the space. I also have two children who actively use the room so the sofa had to have removable, machine washable covers.

I’m not that easy to please… I had a long wish list, it couldn’t be too deep (small room) but needed to be wide enough to accommodate the whole family. It also had to be comfortable to sit on for a coffee morning yet soft enough to sink into with a good magazine or movie.

When buying a sofa you need to draw up a list of requirements. But the most important one is to check that your final choice fits in your room. The easiest way to do this is to cut out the shape of the new sofa from newspaper and place it on the floor. A sofa will always appear smaller in a big showroom.  If possible get a swatch of the fabric and look at it in your room in daytime and night time as colours can look different depending on the light.

I’m delighted to say I made my final choice. And while I was sitting on every cream/white sofa with removable, washable covers in Dublin, my sofa dropped in price from 1,495.00 euro to 895.00 euro. The sofa I chose is called ‘Long Island’, from Global village in Powerscourt House, Enniskerry.  It ticks every box on my wish list.

At the same time I sold my old sofa through Buckley Galleries in Sandycove. If you’re looking for a bargain check out their weekly auctions!