Designer Ireland: No. 237 - DesignEire

6 June 2004
The Sunday Times
Culture Section

by Lisa Godson

The most impressive item in DesignEire’s portfolio is themselves — or rather their logo. It has won international awards, been featured in graphic design manuals as an example of excellence and is utterly distinctive.

The logo is a representation of the D and E of the company name, and plays on visual perception. The letters are placed back to back, this snugness an allusion to their part in a composite word. The E is a curved Celtic uncial, and so at first glance the design appears to depict two back-to-back semi-circles.

It seems almost abstract, with the negative space formed by the two curves emphasised visually by being rendered in white. As the brightest element in the composition, the eye is drawn first to this non-signifying abstract shape — the leftover part of the design forming the central focus, in a subversion of the norm.

Another unusual aspect of the design is the use of dark colours. The shape enclosed by the D is in indigo, and that of the E in a dark leaf green. The allusion here seems to be to cosmopolitanism on the one hand and the local on the other. With a name like DesignEire, it is clear the company wants to be associated with Ireland, but it also works for international clients. The logo is certainly more subtle than the cheeky name — the use of the terms design and Eire make it sound like an official state design organisation rather than a small commercial firm.

The appeal of the logo is not just a cerebral one of optical illusions and allusions but an emotional one. The letters and shapes of it are all marked out in thick black line, and coupled with the strong colours gives it a hand-drawn, child-like air. It is designed as much as an illustration as a corporate trademark — in fact, it is more suggestive of the work of Roger Hargreaves, creator of the Mr Men books than that of a contemporary graphic designer.

Lisa Godson is tutor in Critical and Historical Studies at the Royal College of Art. She was previously a lecturer in the Department of the History of Art, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology and elsewhere, wrote a weekly column on Irish design for the Sunday Times for six years, worked as a curator and consultant to the National Museum of Ireland. Godson also wrote the limited edition book "Stealing Hearts from a Travelling Show: The Graphic Design of U2."

More information about the DesignEire logo is posted in the Creative Services Logos section of this blogfolio. This review is also archived at TimesOnline. © Copyright 2007 Times Newspapers Ltd.