The creative world I find myself in now started with a simple idea to design a collection of bags and accessories in a rainbow of prints, always joyful and happy with an emphasis on functionality.
Dermott and I established Orla Kiely in 1995, the year our oldest son was born. I had a passion for colour and with much of fashion at the time immersed in black, our brand from the very beginning stood out and was noticed. I always loved mid-century design and trawled the markets in Portobello or Montreuil in Paris for vintage treasures, especially objects or clothing from the sixties and seventies helping to feed my passion and establish my style. With little funds but lots of enthusiasm, we started our company, his business with my creative, dedicated to colour and pattern. This was our first step along a winding path and the start of a journey filled with challenges and successes in equal measures, life was never boring.
My dream was always to create a style with a strong sense of identity, a visual language that was welcoming and friendly, happy prints that make you smile! I love to reference 1960s culture; fashion, film, interiors and graphic design, I never get bored of the time. Nature is a constant source of inspiration alongside other curious and conversational subject matter that spark new ideas every day. I always loved interiors and architecture, and I am often reminded of a vivid childhood memory, our crazy family kitchen always buzzing with everyday activities, homely, welcoming and very retro! Olive green Formica, graphic Mexican inspired tiles and a glossy orange ceiling, a kitchen that today would fit perfectly in any World of Interiors spread or Wallpaper magazine.
Stem, our simple graphic leaf has been very kind to us. I remember its first outing. Designed in 2000, it has become our brand icon, an enduring motif that has survived the test of time. It gives me such joy when I see it adorning people’s homes or their arm, and so much pride when I hear it described as one of the most recognisable prints of the 21st century by experts and commentators in the world of textiles. It seems to have a unique ability to take on new personalities through scale, texture and colour. We have fun re-imagining it each season, surprising even ourselves, like a puzzle with infinite configurations, keeping it fresh, allowing it to remain strong and relevant.
I wanted to build a team with like-minded and passionate people all striving for the same end goal. Today, we all contribute creatively and are constantly evolving, open to new ideas, instinctively graphic, playful and curated, being as near to perfect as can be. That’s what inspires us and drives us forward.