Dublin's traditional craft culture has deep roots that make it a powerhouse on the European scene
Outside of the old bastions like the Avoca stores and crafty County Kilkenny, there is a new breed of design and craft shops across the city that are engaging not just with their Irish heritage, but with hyper-modern, international trends to create curated collections of interior goodness that keep Dublin's trendiest houses decorated.
With Design Week coming up (1-10 November), here are some of Dublin's design shops putting local craft to good use.
Irish Design Shop
The baby of jewellers Clare Grennan and Laura Caffrey, Irish Design Shop’s curation of the best of contemporary homegrown craft sits prettily in two homes across the city. The traditional and the futuristic are enmeshed in their stock, with wallpaper, ceramics, stationery, woodwork and jewellery all weaved together in a fabric that best represents the idiosyncrasies of Irish design.
Grennan and Caffrey aren’t doing all the hard work themselves: each autumn, their RHA Gallery space is taken over by a series of the most forward-thinking retailers and avant-garde fashion designers in unique pop-ups who make the space their own. Their tireless work to stay at the forefront of new craft means there’s often a new find to be had. You can even stop by and learn how to make your own silver jewellery at their occasional workshops.
Where to go: 41 Drury Street, Dublin 2 or the Royal Hibernian Academy, 15 Ely Place, Dublin 2
What to buy: A colourful Andrew Ludick ceramic, an Adam Frew Scribble Pot or some Eily O’Connell crab shell ear-rings.
Makers & Brothers
These brothers (it's in the name!) have been making a name for themselves ever since starring at New York Design Week last year. Their story is almost too perfect: Jonathan and Mark Legge work from a shed in the idyllic County Dublin suburb of Blackrock, hand-crafting beautiful objects from locally-sourced materials that sell out in the bat of an eyelid.
Rather than spending time on the day-to-day business of running a shop away from their studio, they invite shoppers to come visit their workshop for a glance at their craft in action – although occasionally undergo a change of scenery setting up pop-up shops in places as close as the city centre’s department store Brown Thomas, or as far away as London. They are at the forefront of an international movement that’s reconnecting consumers with makers and designers.
On top of the Legges’ small-batch production, they sell items from friends around the world in their indispensable web-shop. Their blog is also a banquet of new ideas, with the boys sometimes taking breaks from craft chat to share their cocktail recipes and creative processes.
Where to go: Abbey Court, Blackrock, County Dublin (but remember to book time for a visit first!)
What to buy: A sheepskin stool, a marble eggcup, or a Donegal tweed cushion.
John Adams’ collection of homewares, books and gifts have a distinctly personal touch, with an emphasis on clever, not too-cutesy design. Adams’ ethos goes: "if I wouldn’t want it in my house, then I wouldn’t want it in my shop".
While the trove of shiny, new treasures make it a feng shui El Dorado, it’s Article’s vintage finds that set it apart. Classy 60s furniture and Victorian sofas occasionally find their way up the Powerscourt Townhouse’s staircases and into the front section of this hearty little store.
Where to go: 22 Powerscourt Townhouse, South William Street, Dublin 2
What to buy: A Clover Rua A-Z of Dublin print, some Curved House books, or some Jennifer Slattery linens.
The brainchild of interior designer and buyer Vanessa MacInnes, Industry collects furniture, accessories and lighting fixtures from across Europe, repurposes and upcycles them with a loving touch, and nestles them amongst new designs in its Temple Bar digs.
There's nothing ephemeral or gimmicky about Industry's collection: these are sturdy, well-designed and characterful one-offs that offer a minimal, individual alternative to mass-produced interior staples.
The clue to this shop's aesthetic is in the name: stripped-back, hard-wearing, metallic and modern. And if you're not buying big, worry not – there's an array of stationery, cards and and other trinkets that you won't need a delivery van to take away.
When MacInnes isn't travelling across the world picking up awesome new stock at salvage markets, she's the go-to for interior consultation for those in the know. She is currently building an ambitious second home on Drury Street, which promises to be the foremost emporium for striking decor in the city. Keep your eyes peeled.
Where to go: 5 Essex St. West, Cow's Lane, Temple Bar, Dublin 8
What to buy: A geometric cushion, a recycled blanket or a domineering 4-door locker.
There you have it, design fans should pay a visit to these shrines to creativity and maybe discover something you didn't expect.