It’s unsurprising that a pair of lifelong friends, Brenda Aherne and Helen Delany, are behind the distinctive textile designs of Electronic Sheep.
The internationally-renowned designers have known each other since they were seven years old, as neighbours on Cedarwood Road in Glasnevin, also known as the street where Bono grew up.
Having worked together since 1998 to create their illustrative and typographic knitwear, the anti-trend brand has amassed a dedicated following for the timelessness of its pieces. This includes actor and writer Aisling Bea, who can be seen sporting a scarf in her Channel 4 series This Way Up.
“We don’t really follow fashion trends, everything is made with longevity in mind. We were never really in fashion, so we can’t go out of fashion, if that makes sense”, Brenda commented.
“We have always had a sustainable ethos because we don’t make big collections, we make limited editions, so we don’t generate much waste. We also use biodegradable cruelty-free merino yarn that lasts forever. We still see some people walking around town wearing designs we created twenty years ago”, the designer added.
Their latest collection of scarves and kaftans entitled, ‘Electro-Fuse’, is populated with scenes from the eponymous ‘Electronic Sheep’ comic. Using their comic character, Electronic Sheep, who can travel through time, their designs are a fusion of their comic and reminiscences of nights out in music venues across London, Dublin and New York.
“We have always been interested in storytelling, which was partly influenced by Helen’s dad who was a wonderful storyteller. We both studied in NCAD, where there was always a big emphasis on having a background story and reason for your work, which might also have ingrained that into us. We started a comic 20 years ago that we decided to bring back out in our latest collection, it’s quite surreal but is true to our experiences of people and places we met along the way”.
With Brenda based in Dublin and Helen located in London, Brenda explained that the designers have had to adapt to collaborating remotely: “Before the pandemic, we used to always come together for a few weeks to research and draw. We’ve become very used to working over the phone and using Zoom. It sounds like it would be very difficult to create a collection in this way but we’ve known each other for such a long time that I think we have a very similar aesthetic, so it actually wasn’t that hard in our case”.
The brand was named the overall textiles winner in this year’s Irish Designer’s Institute Award, in addition to being awarded for its jewellery collaboration with Edge Only, last year. The National College of Art and Design (NCAD) is currently hosting an Electronic Sheep exhibition, showcasing a curated selection from their 23 years of work to date. This exhibition will be open until January 14 and will then continue on to be displayed in Paris and London in 2022.
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