The makers who will shape the future of Ireland’s crafts sector

Future Makers Awards recognises talent, potential and creativity in emerging designers and craftspeople

Designers and makers who will shape the future of Ireland’s crafts sector were recently recognised at an awards event held as part of Design Week Ireland 2022.

Aimed at both students and those at early stages in their careers, the Future Makers Awards, organised by the Design & Crafts Council Ireland, recognises talent, potential and creativity, with a view to supporting the next generation of makers, designers and craftspeople.

With a total prize fund of €25,000, Future Makers, which was first established in 2009, is one of Europe’s largest prize-funded award programmes.

This year the nominees came from a broad range of disciplines, including ceramics, fashion design, textiles, furniture making, homewares and jewellery design.


Fashion designer Michael Stewart, from Kilkishen in Co Clare, and now based in London, won the overall Future Makers Emerging Maker Award, winning €3,500. Known for his couture-sculpted pieces, earlier this year Stewart was named by Vogue magazine as a newcomer to watch at London Fashion Week.

Furniture maker Shona Hunt, from Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, was the recipient of the Overall Student & Recent Graduate Award (€2,500). Her screen and frame structures are inspired by the coastal landscape of Co Sligo and the unique visual characteristics and materiality of the place.

As in landscape photography or painting, Hunt designs the screens to capture and frame abstracted and curated views of the surroundings, “highlighting and foregrounding specific elements of their location to create new viewpoints and narratives”.

Fashion designer Liadain Aiken, from Ballydehob, Co Cork, won the Future Makers Emerging Maker Sustainability Award (€2,000), first introduced in 2021, while textile designer Lucy Moore, from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, won the Future Makers Sustainability Award in the Student & Recent Graduate category (€2,000).

Other winners included Hugo Byrne (exhibition support of €1,000), who makes handmade knives in Limerick and has a nine-month waiting list for his knives, which feature handles made from a mixture of found wood and ocean plastic; textile artist Karena Ryan (exhibition support of €1,000), who returned to art college as a mature student and describes her work as “painting with a needle and thread”; and furniture maker Barry Todd, (Residencies & Training Award, €1,000), who makes small batch furniture to order at his Monaghan studio workshop.

The winners of Future Makers will go ahead to the RDS Craft Awards, which comprise five awards of €10,000 each.

Previous Future Makers winners include fashion designer Sorcha O’Raghallaigh; furniture designer Simon Doyle; ceramic artist Kate O’Kelly; Print Block artist collective; ceramic artist and educator Owen Quinlan; and designer Úna Burke.

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan is a writer specialising in personal finance and is the Home & Design Editor of The Irish Times