There is no specific legislation governing design as a cultural or creative form in Ireland. While design for industry was seen as a justification for the original Arts Act of 1951 and responsibility was given to the Arts Council, it was soon moved to the Department of Industry/Córas Tráchtála in 1961. This has left design outside of the legislation for culture ever since. With the establishment of the Kilkenny Design Workshop in 1963, industrial design moved under their responsibility.
In legislative terms, design is recognised only as an industry. The Industrial Design Act (2001) is the primary legislation dealing with industrial designs in Ireland. Its main interest is protecting registered designs from patent infringements. Apart from this, the Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act (2019) covers copyright protection.
There is a lack of support from government for design as a creative pursuit in and of itself. This form of support would help boost the design standards and quality. The amendment of the Craft Council’s trading name to Design and Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) has given greater visibility to the design and also formally acknowledges their existing remit which includes supporting and promoting Irish craft and product-related design enterprises. This new amendment is not underpinned by an act of legislation. DCCoI is the ‘national agency for the commercial development of designers, stimulating innovation, championing design thinking and informing government policy.’
More recently, in 2016, the Department of Enterprise produced a Policy Framework for Design in Enterprise. The framework report pointed to a need for a new national policy for design.