The Chocolate Factory on Kings Inn Street is an example of much that is interesting within Irish interiors right now. A disused factory, once owned by William & Woods, it has been transformed into a stylish space, with 15 design studios upstairs.
On Thursday night, over slices of excellent asparagus frittata and hazelnut brownies and glasses of Prosecco, it was the focal point for architects, interior designers, stylists, craftsmen, and furniture and fit-out suppliers, all gathered for the launch of House 2016. A chance to chat, mingle, swap news, and get excited about a brand new and very stylish home and interiors show.
Interior designer and architect Suzie Mc Adam, along with Ruth Maria Murphy, photographer and brand developer; former model Ruth Griffin with blogger and DJ Alex Donald; Catherine and Billy Treacy of heating supplier company Versatile, and property expert and broadcaster Sinead Ryan, were just some of those who turned up to hear Brendan O'Connor launch proceedings. In general, there was a sleek, almost Scandinavian feel to the evening, helped by the pared-back aesthetic of the venue, and the style of the guests.
House 2016 is the first of what will be many events, organised and produced by INM - the people behind this newspaper, the Irish Independent, the Belfast Telegraph, the Herald, the Sunday World and independent.ie - along with EventHaus, the people behind Bloom and The Hardware Show. It will run at the RDS next May 20 to 22, a one-stop showcase for all that's best within the world of homes and interiors - think hot trends and stylish products, brought to life with demos, masterclasses and advice clinics, some guided by INM writers and editors such as Bairbre Power, Mary O'Sullivan, Mark Keenan, Eleanor Flegg, Sinead Ryan and Patricia Murphy.
"House 2016 will be a really focused interior design event," says Garret Buckley, managing director of EventHaus. "We've done the research. Our visitors to House are already knowledgeable, they are already reading magazines, the interiors pages of the newspapers, downloading the apps. They want to know more. We are giving them the face-to-face opportunity to touch and feel the new trends in interior design."
It's an opportunity that will be very welcome, judging by the reception on the night - particularly among those keen to exhibit their work and expertise at the event in May.
This is a natural leap for INM. As one future exhibitor said: "They've been doing it for many years, as media partners, to some of the biggest events in the country. So it makes sense that they would use that experience, and their reach, and do it themselves. I'm interested in this because I think they can deliver the kind of promotion, support and marketing reach that we need."
Homewares and interiors are a big part of the recent rise in consumer spending. As Sinead Ryan, property columnist with the Irish Independent, says: "House building, house buying, house furnishing and the economy are all coming together. We never got over our obsession with houses, we just put it to one side while we had to. This is the beginning of the next curve."
It's a curve we're all keen to be part of, whether as exhibitors at or visitors to House 2016. It's a step into something more contemporary, fresh and exciting in the interiors industry, and the first step into a new area for INM.