Project 51: The Irish Design Collective
Ingenuity and innovation have always been driven by adversity. Right now, in Ireland, we’ve never had so much creativity and such able people to execute it.
People are working with each other and cooperatives are emerging again. A few landlords are thinking creatively, generously and long term, allowing interesting projects to come to life. One such project, Fashion Hothouse, is in Harold’s Cross where a modest clothing-manufacturing centre, web designers and photographers’ studios have all come together.
In South Studios, in the Tenters part of the Liberties, photographers and stylists are in a building that was destined for redevelopment in the boom. As that time has passed, the landlord is thinking creatively and encouraging artists and businesses to see what they can do when given space at a reasonable rent. Project 51 — the Irish Design Collective, is another project where a landlord is thinking outside the box. The brainchild of jewellery designer Eoin McDonnell and fashion designer Jennifer Rothwell, who has had extensive experience abroad,
Project 51 is a new Irish design centre showcasing the work of select clothing designers, milliners, and handbag and jewellery designers.
“We had a long-term plan. The landlord found it interesting and he and his builder have been really supportive. Had we tried to do this three or four years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to,” Eoin told me. “There are two types of landlords in this city. The ones that understand the city is in the midst of a revolution and they want to be part of it. And those who are still in Tiger land.”
Dublin City Enterprise Board also played a key role in getting Project 51 off the ground, as well as other projects in our new fashion quarter of South William Street to George's Street, such as Atelier 27.
“For Irish designers to have a city-centre location is amazing. It’s about getting together, growing and evolving together,” Jennifer Rothwell explained. “Yes, it’s ambitious. But Irish people want to buy Irish work.”
Project 51 officially opens next Thursday, September 8, as part of the Dublin Festival of Fashion. Designers available are Jennifer Rothwell; Claire O’Connor; Sinead Doyle; Heather Finn; EssenC; Que-Va by Caoimhe Keane; jewellery by Eoin McDonnell of Precious; Saba by Geraldine Murphy; VSL Jewelry; Eve Ella; Ruby Jewels; Eily O’Connell; bags from Ana Faye by Anna Vahey, and hats by Martha Lynn.
“It’s to be a hub,” Jen states. “Where people can come and find a beautiful dress, the perfect jewellery, that special hat. All one-offs. Bespoke. Unique.” Wonderful.