Irish Design student Wins Prestigious International Design competition

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Could insects offer a new sustainable food source? And if so what cultural prejudices would need to be overcome before insects could form a part of our daily diet? These were just some of the questions addressed by Lara Hanlon, winner of the much coveted ‘New Star Award’ at the Shenzhen Design Award for Young Talents competition. Lara will receive her $5,000 prize at an event in Shenzhen next February where her project will be exhibited with other category winners.

Lara is a recent graduate of the Visual Communications programme, at Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire (IADT). Her final year multi-disciplinary design project éntomo was selected to represent Dublin city in the Shenzhen Design competition.

The Shenzhen Design Award was organised by the city of Shenzhen in China as part of its UNESCO City of Design programme and attracted high calibre entries from established professionals and graduate designers from around the world.

Shenzhen invited Dublin, as a UNESCO City of Literature, to participate through the UNESCO Creative Cities Alliance. Dublin’s Public Libraries administer the very successful UNESCO City of Literature Programme. A competition to select entries from Dublin was organised jointly by the City of Literature Office together with the Council’s design promotion initiative, PIVOT Dublin, which invited submissions through its network and assembled a panel of assessors. The assessors, which included Barry Sheehan, Head of Design at DIT and graphic designer Mary Doherty of Red Dog, decided on three entries to go forward for the final judging in Shenzhen.

“Lara’s success in representing Dublin in the Shenzhen Design Award is a fantastic example of how the UNESCO City of Literature designation can provide a platform and recognition for other creative practices in Dublin”, says Margaret Hayes, Dublin City Librarian. 

Lara herself explains that “Insects provide a healthy alternative to beef, pork, and poultry, and are promoted by international organisations including the UN as a feasible and wholesome option for ending world hunger. Through education and promotion of gourmet cuisine, éntomo challenges cultural prejudices associated with eating insects in the Western world and provides people with the means to explore bugs as a sustainable, tasty and nutritious food source”. Her winning project – and recipes! – can be viewed at

The purpose of the ‘New Star Award’ is to reward the ideas of young designers, who, through their innovation and designs, have contributed to the enhancement of environmental sustainability, social and economic development and, above all, quality of lives in our cities.

Lara’s award in Shenzhen is further recognition for the design programme at IADT, which is currently the only Irish institution on the list of the top 100 European Design Schools.