Irish Design: Crannac

NATIVE is an ode to Irish design. We want to celebrate our favourite makers past and present; from traditional Irish vernacular, to contemporary pieces. 

NATIVE was conceived as a space where design lovers can enjoy design classics, and we have put a lot of effort into collecting our favourites. We look forward to introducing you to these iconic pieces, starting with one of our all-time favourites:

The Bunbeg, by Crannac.

Crannac was the first, and only, mid-century modern furniture manufactured in Ireland in 1962.

In 1945, a small furniture company called John Hogg ltd was established in Navan Co Meath. In 1961, they hired designed Arthur Edwards to help design a new style, called Crannac, meaning little copse or wood in Irish.

The new range, designed for hotels and public buildings but also suitable for private homes, was made of teak imported from Ghana and pure wool Irish tweed by Magee of Co Donegal.

This fortuitous secondment happened because the Irish export board, Córas Tráchtála Teo, under tutelage of designer Paul Hogan, invited numerous designers from Scandinavia to be seconded to Irish companies to increase the quality of Irish exports.

This led to the creation of Kilkenny Design Workshops in 1963, with the famous original logo designed by Louis le Broquy (circa 1965).

After decades of brain drain, Ireland’s stock of quality indigenous designs was poor and this impacted the quality of the country’s industrial design. As early as the 1920s, Thomas Bokin, curator and director of the National Gallery, had called for a state-supported programme to help improve standards.

In the early 1960s the ‘Scandinavian report’ (sometimes referred to as the ‘Nordic report’) was commissioned by which designers from Scandinavia were invited to Ireland to assess the quality of Irish design. The report covered multiple areas of craft and manufacturing including glass, weave, ceramics, and of course furniture. And thus was born the Kilkenny Design Workshops, bringing designers from the UK, Germany, Canada, and Scandinavia to Ireland. And Mr Arthur Edwards, and his penchant for simple mid-century lines to the Navan road in Co. Meath.

Crannac produced some mid-century classics, including the Bunbeg, Model A, Model C (above right), Cocktail/lounge chair (above left) and possibly the Scoop chair, though there is some debate if the Scoop is indeed attributable to Crannac.

Crannac is also famous for being Ireland’s longest running worker’s coop from 1972 when the company was bought the workers, till it folded in 2003 leaving a legacy of great design.