The design studio was honoured in its new home in Kerry
In the summer of 2016, Baba Studio (the people behind the Magic Bohemia blog and the Magic Prague tour) moved from Prague, where they were established in 2002, to Killarney in the south-west of Ireland, and they have received a warm welcome in their new home! The studio, which designs high-quality tarot cards and unique fantasy-inspired fashion and design items and accessories, was nominated in the Kerry County Enterprise Awards 2017, and won in the Export category. The awards were the culmination of events and workshops held in March by the Kerry Local Enterprise Office to promote local businesses.
Winners were honoured at a ceremony in the Manor West Hotel in Tralee.
Karen Mahony accepted the Export Award for Baba Studio. “We were surprised and delighted to hear that we were nominated, but never imagined that we would actually win an award,” she says. The awards were not announced until the day of the event. “We learned that we had been given the Export Award, due to the fact that 99 per cent of our current sales go to customers outside Ireland,” she adds.
The small company was delighted by the recognition. “Our customers come from all over the world, notably the USA, Canada, and the UK, but also increasingly from Asia, Russia and South America. The award was very encouraging and has fired us up to expand our customer base even further,” Karen says.
She also added that the next big project will be a series of images with the working title Ireland through Bohemian eyes. “Kerry is such an incredibly beautiful part of the world with world-famous sea, mountain and lake views, and many important spiritual and ‘fairy tale’ sites,” she enthuses, “We want to work in the landscape and produce pictures that extend and expand the idea of ‘Irishness’, showing how our own different cultural experiences can feed back into enriching the imagery.”
The main winner of Kerry County Enterprise Awards 2017 will represent the county at the National Enterprise Awards in Dublin this May. The winner was Irish Host Family, a language immersion program based in Castleisland that places European students with Irish host families. The top prize was €2,500, with a chance at more prizes in the national competition.
Other winners included agricultural machinery design shop JM Agri-Design of Tralee, which won in the Innovation category, and a healthy eating bakery Wellness Baking Listowel, which won for Best Retail Product.
Baba Studio was founded in 2002 by the husband and wife partnership of Alex Ukolov and Karen Mahony. Alex graduated as an illustrator and graphic designer from the Kharkov Academy in Ukraine. Karen did her post-graduate training at the Royal College of Art in London, specialising in interactive media. The Prague studio began in a 15th century building in Prague’s Malá Strana district. While Baba Studio is now well settled in beautiful Killarney, they still retain a small presence in Prague.
The studio is well-known for extravagant Modern Baroque visuals with a distinct twist of both humour and the bizarre. Baba Studio’s tarot decks have three times been voted the Deck of the Year. Many of the images from the cards have inspired the company’s fashion items and accessories. Other items are unique, made from repurposed vintage material sourced from all over the world, with an especial focus, of course, on embroideries and folk fabrics from Bohemia.