Vibrant independent shops, a buzzing creative scene, and a well-tuned sense of design has put Dublin centre-stage as one of Europe’s most dynamic destinations for local craft and celebrated fashion
Dublin boasts a homegrown creative scene that mixes high-end fashion with edgy, emerging labels. Centred around what’s known as the Creative Quarter (an area radiating off South William Street), design-focused shops sit alongside restaurants, cafés, galleries and the wrought-iron beauty of the George’s Street Arcade.
Dublin’s compact size, network of bicycle lanes, and quirky spaces mean that accessing the city’s pockets of design is a cinch, whether you’re going upscale in a Georgian townhouse with renowned designer
Louise Kennedy, or drifting through vintage stalls at the Dublin Flea Market in Newmarket Square.
Ireland is very important to my designs… Irish artists keep a place in my inspiration, too, with Francis Bacon making a constant appearance.
Where to look for creativity
For up-and-coming designers, head to
Maven on Wicklow Street. Mixing international names with contemporary Irish design, this is a good place to hunt down labels, such as Frances Campelli, Wendy Judge, and Sian Jacobs. Housed within what has to be one of Europe’s most beautiful shopping centres – the Powerscourt Centre (a lavish 18 th century townhouse built to entertain guests) – you’ll find the Design Centre, a stalwart of Irish design with John Rocha, Synan O’Mahony and accessories by Philip Treacy.
Siopaella on Temple Lane, specialises in luxury designer resale – great for a bargain. And for vintage, call into Lucy’s Lounge, Temple Bar, Harlequin in Castle Market and Jenny Vander on Drury Street. You’ll also find vintage pieces alongside current fashion at Folkster, Temple Bar.
For jewellery, Rhinestones is a treasure-trove of Victorian, art deco and vintage pieces. At the other end of the scale is
Designyard, which has a gorgeous range of contemporary jewellery and sculpture.
Cow’s Lane Market
Irish craft is cool and comforting. Inspired by raw natural materials – linen, wool, slate and wood – Irish designers are reinterpreting traditional crafts with a very modern edge. Nature, simplicity and texture are key influencers on Superfolk’s seaweed prints and wood trivets, and
Arran Street East’s stoneware, while 31 Chapel Lane’s Irish linen cushions are all available from design stores, including Makers & Brothers and Scout.
Traditional craft shops, such as
Kilkenny Shop, selling textiles from Foxford and McNutt, pottery from well-established names including Louis Mulcahy and Nicholas Mosse and jewellery from Alan Ardiff, Maureen Lynch and Chupi, are complemented by more contemporary shops, such as the Irish Design Shop. Here, in a small but busy little store on Drury Street, you’ll find modern glassware, ceramics and wooden boards. Look out for perfect take-home pieces such as wooden coasters from James Carroll, felt placemats from Alljoy, and slate mats from Slated.
Arran Street East
Makers & Brothers is a wonderful little hub of creativity – and you can visit them by appointment in The Shed, which is just outside the city.
On Saturdays, wander down to
Designer Mart in Temple Bar; it’s an open-air market filled with Irish-made craft and design. Or browse a mix of Irish design and small international labels at Article, Powerscourt Centre; Industry on Drury Lane; and Scout Dublin in Temple Bar.
The story of the Aran sweater has history written all over it – legend has it that families wove in their own design so if tragedy struck at sea, they could recognise their own when brought to shore. Just like this enduring tale, some things will always be iconically Irish.
Donegal tweed, cut crystal and cosy knitwear conjure images of soft light and rainy landscapes. If you’re looking for the traditional, then House of Ireland is a good place to start – although, these crafts have still moved with the times, so you’ll be browsing alongside bright Orla Kiely bags and Alan Ardiff jewellery.
Must-finds are the huge woollen blankets and warm throws that are specialties in
Avoca on Suffolk Street, and the impressive range of crystal, wood and ceramics from designers such as Louis Mulcahy at Kilkenny Shop.
Treasures old and new
If it’s a slice of history you want, set aside an hour or two for the antique shops in Powerscourt, where you’ll find objets d’art, porcelain, art and silver. Budget shoppers should try Stokes Antiquarian Books in
George’s Street Arcade, which specialises in Irish literature and history.
But for a true one-off, make for Merrion Square on a Sunday. Amateur artists sell their work displayed on the park’s railings and you can pick up something unique at a very reasonable price.
Explore more of Dublin’s creative side