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Meet The Judges: 2021


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Frances McDonald provides consultancy and support services in contemporary craft and design. Working with state agencies and academic institutions, galleries and practitioners, she has worked on numerous exhibitions and events. These have included the 2017 Mise Éire conference for the Design & Crafts Council Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland;  Liminal – Irish Design at the Threshold, New York, Eindhoven & Dublin for Irish Design 2015; The International Academy of Ceramics Dublin 2014 for the Design & Crafts Council Ireland.

She writes on contemporary craft and has contributed to the Irish Arts Review; Ceramic Review; Neues Glas: Art & Architecture; Ceramics Art & Perception and Frances McDonald has a Degree in Design Communications from Limerick School of Art & Design and an MA in Design History & Material Culture from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin.

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Laura Caffrey is a graduate of the National College of Art and Design. Laura Caffrey established Irish Design Shop with fellow graduate Clare Grennan in 2008. Trading both online and from a brick and mortar shop in Dublin town, Irish Design Shop prides itself on promoting the work of some of Ireland's most exciting designer/makers. The newly renovated first-floor space showcases the in-house jewellery collection Names which is designed and made by Clare and Laura in their second-floor workshop. In addition to the jewellery range, Laura co-designs the growing Áras range of homewares with Clare. Working with skilled designers and makers across Ireland, this collection of affordable and innovative products are intended for everyday use.  Laura is a talented designer and maker who understands the importance of branding and product development in the craft industry.  


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Gemma Tipton is a writer on contemporary art, design and culture. Gemma writes mainly for the Irish Times, as well as contributing to Irish and international magazines, including Artforum and Frieze.


Gemma has also written and edited numerous books, and is a curator of exhibitions.

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Fergal O’Leary is a furniture designer maker and musician based in Cork City, Ireland. Fergal’s award winning work aims to marry modern geometric forms with classic references. Fergal’s core work is for private commission but he has worked with DCCI, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the EU. His work has been selected for Portfolio and has exhibited all over the world. 


Fergal is currently studying for a Masters in Music Performance at Cork School of Music, MTU.