A Life in Pattern Exhibtion

When we were approached by one of our favourite gallery’s, The Fashion and Textile Museum in London, to co-curate an exhibition of our work across more than 20 years, we couldn’t say no! A project on a scale we never imagined but a dream that was both exciting and terrifying in equal measure. 

 Textiles, and the application of surface print and pattern, is for us, a passion that has intensified and deepened over the years. It is our unique visual language that says who we are.  With this, the foundations of our creative world, the task of delving into the archive of work began, bringing back memories and milestones that have marked our lives. To be exhibited in London was an honour that we never imagined and an endorsement from the best, to Orla and our creative team that tells us somehow, in own our way we have made a mark and created a body of work that resonates within our own time! 

 Our goal was to overwhelm the visitor with a full panoramic vision of “a life in pattern”, lining a long tunnel with a Print Library showcasing an edit selected from hundreds of designs developed for over many different collections, projects collaborations and charity endeavours. In the Life Room while looking back at the history of the brand, the early days and even some of Orla’s student work, we also illustrate the process of design through a gathering of both sketches and technical drawings with a visual representation of Orla’s mind through her desk and workspace. 

We were very clear in our vision that this would be a moment in time to design and make a special installation to illustrate how pattern and scale go hand in hand, showcasing our boldest, most iconic prints in a playful approach, surprising the visitor and delighting the eye.  Hence 9 giant dresses on oversized wooden hangers gently swaying, to imbue a magical forest and a very Alice in Wonderland experience. On the walls 9 tiny dolls each wearing miniature versions of the same dresses with playful descriptions of the prints and their timelines. 

 The exhibition would also house an edit of 100 Handbags designed over 23 years, the fashion accessory most synonymous with our brand, hanging closely together on a vast white wall with an honesty and impact that allows the visitor to enjoy!  Collaborations with photographers, filmmakers, stylists and set designers can be seen through an exhibit of framed photography, film, video footage as well as graphic devices such as invites and look books.  Inspired by the upbeat exuberance of the 60s and 70s we share a passion for eye catching colour and rhythmic repeats that play with our senses. This exhibition explores the power of decoration and its ability to transform the way we feel. We hope this becomes a ‘Go-To’ exhibition and visitors are motivated go on their own journey embracing “a life in pattern”.

To date the exhibition has been housed at the FTM in London, travelled to the University of the Arts in Norwich and now can be seen at the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh.

It is accompanied by the book 

“Orla Kiely, A Life in Pattern” published by Conran Octopus. 

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