Irish and Proud
There's no doubt that Irish designers and retailers have been enjoying their well-deserved time in the limelight as 2016 comes to a close.
If they're not exhibiting abroad at major design fairs such as Maison d'Objet and the London Design Festival, they're opening beautiful design-led pop-up stores in time for the festive season or collaborating with local Irish artists to produce prints and new, contemporary products. Between Irish retailers introducing the best in design from abroad and collectives promoting makers and crafters from Ireland, beautiful and thoughtful homewares are easier to buy than ever, ensuring you'll have your Christmas gift list sorted.
"Makers today are focusing on innovative design with smart price points and fresh on-trend contemporary colours," says Brian McGee, market development director of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI). "Carve On, for example, sprang to life by working with fine Irish natural materials resulting in a range of leather products that can all be personalised, such as leather iPad sleeves or luggage tags. New for 2016, Candella's Earth Collection candles were created by combining their passion for design with the rich history of copper."
Interior and product design in Ireland is an area that combines heritage with natural materials and rich texture, as well as longevity and quality, to create things we can live with happily in the home. This is where Designireland.ie comes in to play. Launched by DCCoI, this global online platform now makes it easier than ever for people to buy, and keep up to date with, these 100pc Irish, sought-after designs. Visitors to the site can browse Irish products and link directly to purchase from maker websites and stockists. So, if buying Irish is a priority for you this Christmas, Designireland.ie is certainly the website to know.
"The perfect choice for cosying up on cold winter evenings, try a throw from Foxford Woollen Mills or a blanket by Mourne Textiles," says Brian. "Chaïm Factor's wooden cheese knife or the Black Lily fragrance diffuser from Max Benjamin would make ideal affordable gifts too. For something a little different, check out Stickman's Sheepskin Stool with timber legs or the Santa Clara modern industrial table lamp by Mullan Lighting."
But, worry not, Irish retailers haven't gone completely digital. Many online stores are making the shift to renting physical retail spaces on the short-term - and Christmas is when you'll find a lot of the very best. The launch of the aforementioned Designireland.ie coincides with a whole host of week-long pop-up shops at the Westbury Mall in Dublin 2, where 12 Irish designers are being featured right up to December 24. Also on Westbury Mall is Stable, selling a range of home-grown fabrics, scarves, throws and cushions.
Trendy, Irish-owned April and the Bear is also in on the pop-up action, opening a Christmas shop on December 1 in Thirty Four Café on Dublin's Lennox Street that will run up until December 11, while Makers and Brothers pop-up at 41 Dawson Street has opened its doors already.
Fancy being on the pulse of Irish design while gift-giving this Christmas? It's all too easy.
Anna Shelswell-White is editor of House and Home magazine