Muralist Maser to headline Cork design festival in August 

From interiors to art, we check out what take-home inspiration is on offer at Design Pop which will be held from August 28-30
Muralist Maser to headline Cork design festival in August 
Leading contemporary visual artist Maser. 

IT’S on the streets that you’ll see evidence of just how stir crazy we had become over recent months and just how glad we are to (safely) explore and rediscover the cultural attractions on our doorsteps.

And so, it’s pretty fitting that a world-famous Irish artist who often uses urban buildings as his canvas will headline a major Cork design festival this month.

Contemporary muralist Maser will join forces with award-winning designer Kim Mackenzie-Doyle at Design Pop which promises some inspirational days out from August 28-30. Best of all, you can take those creative vibes home and make your interiors more fabulous than ever.

Resilience is the apt theme of the second annual event that celebrates architecture and design.

Maser started out as a teenage graffiti artist in Dublin and has had commissions across the globe. Six of his murals are to be found around Dublin and he also painted the mural on the towers in Ballymun in 2010 before their demolition.

Kim MacKenzie of WhyDesign.
Kim MacKenzie of WhyDesign.

Kim Mackenzie-Doyle is an internationally recognised product designer, winning multiple worldwide design awards. Former President and Director of the Institute of Designers Ireland and currently sits on the National Design Forum, a government-led initiative to drive Ireland's capability and reputation as a source of design innovation and is CEO of The BIG Idea, a creative awarding programme to champion and encourage creativity in students, launching in Ireland 2021.

They will be special guests leading discussions at a festival that offers three pop-up pavilions, and Irish design shop, exhibitions, furniture showcase and over 16 free events.


Design Pop aims to celebrate innovation and creativity, says its founder, Amy McKeogh. It takes place in various locations across Cork: Thompson House, Elizabeth Fort, Emmett Place, and Blackrock Castle.

“The intention of Design Pop has always been to celebrate the incredible talent in architecture, design, and food and drink producers in Ireland. It is more important than ever to celebrate creativity, collaboration, and support our local talent,” says Amy.

“This year's theme for the festival is Resilience, which will be explored through the pavilions, talks, and conversations, happening over the weekend. The programme features over 16 free events, and two special ticketed events.” 

The launch night, Friday night, August 28, will feature talks and discussions with guests The Project Twins. This graphic art duo, James and Michael Fitzgerald, will speak about their studio and some of their interesting projects to date. Meanwhile, the founding director of The Glucksman, Fiona Kearney, will share her insight on running a leading museum for creative learning and access to the visual arts.\

Saturday morning, August 29, offers a creative workshop for children, with plant-based food company Banana Melon; later, a panel discussion about gender equality in design will be led by Founder of WhyDesign Kim Mackenzie-Doyle. 

Into the afternoon, there will be a networking lunch for women by WhyDesign. Talks will feature OHK O’Herlihy’s, Kinsale, and the Dublin-based architecture and design team at Studio Anois. A discussion “Creative Process Behind Launching a New Brand” features guests Graham Vard (Billion), Ernest Cantillon (Kinsale Gin and Red Earl Whiskey), Tony Speight (West Cork Coffee) and Clonakilty Black Pudding.

Design Pop festival director Amy McKeogh and CCAE architecture student James Pearce bringing a splash of colour to Cork for Design Pop. Picture: Clare Keogh
Design Pop festival director Amy McKeogh and CCAE architecture student James Pearce bringing a splash of colour to Cork for Design Pop. Picture: Clare Keogh

On the Saturday evening, Darragh Breathnach of DUA - Design Urbanism Architecture takes to the hot seat to discuss his studio and projects to date, followed by chats with renowned contemporary artist Maser.

The final day of the festival welcomes many more special guests from food and design backgrounds: A panel discussion on “Interior design and finding new ways of diversifying” will be moderated by Kate O’Neill (The Visual Loop), Niamh McCabe (Spacey Studios), Cathy Angelini (Flamingo Interior Design) and Lisa Marconi (Dust Design).

Photographer Brid O’Donovan is joined by William Murray (Currabinny Foods) to discuss food style and the creative process behind it.

Printmaker and visual artist Shane O'Driscoll. 
Printmaker and visual artist Shane O'Driscoll. 

Simon Roche (Bureau), printmaker and visual artist Shane O’Driscoll, and Robin Foley (Hurrah Hurrah) host “Graphic Design, Print Art, and finding new ways of diversifying”; Architecture on the Edge presents Rural Architecture — a discussion moderated by Frank Monahan (Architecture on the Edge), Alan Macilwraith (JCA architects), and Rae Moore (Atelier Rae) — all at Thompson House, MacCurtain Street.

At the core of the festival, Design Pop brings together top Irish design teams to create pop-up installation structures, which will go on display in various outdoor locations across Cork city. Each designer is paired with a Cork-based food or drink producer to create a bespoke space which the public are invited to explore and interact with. Ciarán Meade and Mark Cronin from Bobo’s Cafe team up with computational designer Mark Horgan to create a pavilion at Elizabeth Fort.

The Crawford Gallery Café joins forces with a collective of young architects and designers for a pavilion at Emmett place.

Blackrock Castle and Observatory team up with Cork Architectural School for a pavilion at Blackrock Castle.

On Sunday night, a talk with all the designers and collaborators that created the pavilions will close out the festival.

Thompson House will also be home to a pop-up Irish Design Shop for the duration of the festival, showcasing some of Ireland’s best handcrafted textiles, prints, artworks and much more. At the festival HQ, you’ll also find The Glucksman’s “New Light” exhibition of eight different poster-based artworks, and finally, The Milking Stool exhibition featuring 13 Irish furniture designers. These stunning furniture pieces will be sold off by silent auction during the festival.

All events are free with the exception of the Why Design panel discussion (€6) and the MASER event (€10). Tickets are available on or EventBrite.

Abiding by the current Covid-19 regulations, each event will be 45 minutes long and restricted to a capacity of 50 in the venue at all times. This capacity number may change in line with the government guidelines and phases. After each 45-minute event, organisers have a team to clean and sanitize the seating and venue to have it ready for the next speaker or panel discussion. The seats will be set out in accordance with the social distancing guidelines. There will be a number of sanitising stations throughout the venue and organisers strongly encourage everyone who enters the venue to wear a mask.

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