Beyond the Pale: Free Range at Design Farm Maria  O'Rourke

Free Range at Design Farm

‘I feel strongly that workplaces need to offer more flexibility; working to the beat of the 9-to-5 clock isn’t always conducive to being creative. We need to be more imaginative and allow people to work where they are most productive, be that the park, library or back garden.’ Maria O'Rourke, founder of Kildare studio Design Farm, decided that when setting up by herself she would work where and how she wanted. ‘I am from Kildare and I wanted to live and work there for more balance in my life. I craved more open space and calm and to be able to work and live at my own pace. With a gorgeous forest on my doorstep and lots of places for long rambles, it’s a beautiful place to live and work.’

Annual report for Barnardos, designed by Design Farm

Design Farm — mainly Maria and the occasional freelancer for certain projects — works with a variety of clients across a full spectrum of industries, government departments, charities, local and national clients, producing a lot of editorial and publication design as well as branding and identity. ‘I enjoy working with any business or organisation big or small once they are open minded from the start of the project. I particularly like working with charities such as Barnardos, they have such dedicated people working for them. It’s wonderful to be involved in their important work in some way.’ Other notable work ties in well with Maria’s location: ‘Kildare is synonymous with horse racing and breeding and I had the opportunity design the Rio Olympics promotional material for Horse Sport Ireland, which I’m really proud of!’

Materials for Horse Sport Ireland/Rio 2016, designed by Design Farm

Having studied in IADT and DIT, Maria spent over ten years based in Dublin, and is glad to be away, but not too far away. ‘I can be in the Dublin city centre in just over half an hour, so it hasn’t been too much of an adjustment. Although when you are close to Dublin, but outside it, you can face a bit of a challenge with prospective clients. Businesses in Dublin (and some in Kildare too) sometimes place higher value on the shiny, large-scale agency in the city centre.’ 

Rebrand for Kildare skin clinic Rejuvenate, designed by Design Farm

Maria sees a big part of her job being to communicate the value of design — that of the small-scale local design business and the bigger impact the process can have for a client. ‘It can be more difficult to attract the client that has an awareness and experience of the design process. I have encountered some cynicism and a lack of understanding. I feel like it is a designer’s job to educate the client somewhat along the way, it is a process of learning from both sides and about relationship building. Direct contact, meeting and getting to know clients is important — and enjoyable too!’

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Maria O’Rourke, design farm, kildare, design communitybeyond the palebarnardos, horse sport ireland, 
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