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Ardee company reveal winner of inaugural Conor Farrell Design Award

The Conor Farrell Design Award
The award trophy, designed and made by GMIT lecturer, Jeremy Madden.

Galway native Gerry Murray is the first winner of the annual Conor Farrell Design Award for Excellence in Design, as presented by Ardee-based manufacturer Farrell Furniture, in association with GMIT Letterfrack.

The award was conceived and named after Conor Farrell, the company’s former designer and son of Managing Director Paul, who tragically died in 2018.

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A significant part of Conor’s legacy at Farrell is the commercial success of Elements, a sit stand desking range of office furniture. This range was co-designed by Conor Farrell and John Walsh of Made.

Collectively, Conor’s vision and Enterprise Ireland’s support helped Farrell grow at home and abroad, sustaining over 100 jobs at its manufacturing facility in Ardee, Co. Louth. Conor was a strong believer that great design is the solution to all challenges which we meet in our day-to-day activities.

The award trophy was designed and made by Jeremy Madden, lecturer at GMIT. “It is set in a windswept hillside with a lone tree battling against the elements. The tree is a beacon of brilliance, simple and delicate as it manages to survive,” he explained.

“The solid sterling silver enforces this jewel with strength as it battles with adversity tortured by the wind. The tree overcomes adversity in the open as it is on a tapered side and an undulating fall to the front. The branches are swept by the winds with exposure to the elements but it survives and we capture a moment on this landscape. The sandblasted textures of the oak match this original feel of the hillside.”

The inaugural winner of the award is Gerry Murray, a Galway native whose grandfather was a wheelwright and his father, a cabinet maker. The love of designing, crafting, and making runs deep in his family. Gerry created the Signature Collection with the Lounge Chair #352, the winning object this year, as the centre piece.

The simple silhouettes of the #352 Lounge Chair hides well the complex geometry and jointing techniques needed to construct it. The classic low-slung lines bring together beech and leather. The materials are from trusted sources with impeccable provenance which will not only ensure longevity but also aesthetically pleasing ageing. With care and attention, this study in craftsmanship and engineering will last a lifetime.

“The standard of the competition was outstanding with entries submitted and assessed from students in all years,” Paul Leamy, Head of GMIT Letterfrack campus said. “The vision is to challenge students’ creativity and hone their skills while contributing to the body of design work in GMIT Letterfrack every year.

“Conceived by Farrell Furniture, the award remembers a loved one and gives back to the new designers that are coming into the industry. The award was initiated in the memory of Conor Farrell and his love of design and work in the furniture industry.”

Founded in 1961, Farrell Furniture designs, manufactures, and supplies quality office, residential contract, and student accommodation furniture. They are based on John Street in Ardee.

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