IT Carlow design graduate a benchmark for success

30/11/2020 12:09:00

An IT Carlow design graduate who created an innovative product during the pandemic has seen sales soar and his design featured on The Late Late Show.

Shane McNulty, a graduate in product design innovation from IT Carlow, is head of design at Vinehall Displays, a conference, exhibition and event production company based outside Ashbourne.  

“When Covid hit and we went into lockdown, our business was badly affected. We have a staff of 12 and we were forced into coming up with something new in order to keep the doors open and everyone in employment”, said Shane.

With more people working from home and looking for office equipment, Shane initially designed a flat pack office desk which assembles and disassembles in less than 30 seconds, without the need for any tools, screws or glue.

“The desk was a great success, solving the needs of people during lockdown, especially those living in small or cramped spaces. During the early stages of lockdown, I noticed another problem people where facing -  staying mentally and physical fit within a 5km radius. All fitness stores were sold out and gyms where closed; on top of that, most equipment was not designed to suit people with limited space. With this in mind, I designed a weights bench which can be assembled and disassembled in less than a minute. The bench is another flat pack design and during testing it held up to 500kg”

The weights bench appealed to home workers who wanted to work out during the pandemic but lacked home storage for bulky gym equipment. The weights bench has no screws, can be assembled quickly and stored afterwards. Made from 18mm birch plywood, the product is a unique design made from the company’s CNC cutter and then custom printed using the only Swiss-Q UV flatbed machine in Ireland, allowing customers to personalise the product to suit their own taste. 

“The bench came out in April and reaction was fantastic from the very beginning. We quickly had to learn about digital marketing and created an online store. The product was recently featured on The Late Late Show and we are struggling to keep up with orders. Not only have we kept all of our staff, we have started recruiting and are busier than we’ve ever been. We had to double our workshop size and have invested in new equipment. It’s amazing when you’re backed into a corner, what you can do!” said Shane.

Commenting on Shane’s story, Hilary Dempsey, lecturer in product design innovation at IT Carlow said, “It is such a pleasure seeing a product design innovation graduate from IT Carlow doing well. Skills like sketching, prototyping, creativity, understanding the user and business planning, all combining through the design process, allows for great innovation in the toughest of times. Shane has done this. His design is eye catching, simple, but clever and most importunately, fits with a real need and customer desirability. Well done Shane.”

“Shane’s story is also beneficial for our current students to see how the skills they are learning can be applied in an entrepreneurial way to harness innovation and opportunity when it presents”, Mr Dempsey added.

Shane’s designs can be viewed at

Caption: Pictured is Shane McNulty with his designs.