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Dublin has gone notably high-end in recent years. There’s always been a heavy cultural bent to Ireland‘s capital, but as its international edge has grown over the last 25 years, the ever more gentrified city has slowly become a great spot to go exploring interesting designs too.
Naturally, much of these inventive products come at an often hefty cost, should you want to bring them home. Irish design is wonderful, and you should certainly explore the unique influences and colourful city depictions that characterize Ireland at its best. Here are our must-see spots in priority order. You could even squeeze them into a lively, eye-pleasing single day…
This hub for Irish designers and artists is one of the best stop-offs in the city. With a Temple Bar base and another stop off just south of Christchurch Cathedral, Jam Art hosts pop-art posters, beautiful pottery, jewelry and more. To browse, head for the Christchurch store, where the delicate depictions of idyllic Poolbeg are our favourites.
The Irish Museum of Modern Art might be housed in a historic hospital building, but everything else about it is bang up to date. From carefully sculpted metal snowmen in the abundant garden to tables of food sculpted from coloured, wet toilet paper, IMMA has over 3,500 different works of art in its expansive permanent collection. There is also a revolving door of temporary exhibits featuring ample international stars. Until early 2018, for example, Freud has pride of place.
A lush design store that recently opened a cafe (making it the perfect lunch stop off as you trawl Dublin’s design-leaning corners), Industry is very much in the uber-modern homeware market. The striking designs favoured here are given a great airing alongside your coffee and cake. There’s a notable Irish production theme too – found mainly in the jewelry, blankets, chocolate and the selection of local gifts.
A trove of feng shui fan’s treasures located in the distinctly upmarket Powerscourt Centre (which is worth an explore in general, design lovers), Article likes to go leftfield. There’s very little here that you’ll have seen before. Paper animal-head sculptures, rugged furniture, arty notebooks, unique tableware and lots and lots of stuff you’ll want on display make up the core here. As you’d expect, the airy, slightly creeky shop looks absolutely sublime.
The spot for local design stars, and the place for kitting out your house in a style that’s both Irish and hyper-modern, the Irish Design Store trawls the country to stack its delicately presented shelves. Set up by two jewelers almost a decade ago, it does still lean toward great necklaces and rings (though they’re a far cry from the traditional Claddagh style). You’ll also find beautiful soft toys and books, rugged outdoor pieces and plenty of Irish country-loving art.
Not a spot to pick up anything beautifully designed, admittedly, but a place every design-loving tourist should see on a Dublin trip. Cafe En Seine has been jokingly called ‘Cafe Insane’ by locals for years, largely because it’s a favourite hangout for the ‘ladies that lunch’ crowd, whose boisterous ‘have it all’ conversations are long the subject of many a local satirist. Why go here? It’s a somewhat over-the-top bar and lunch spot, home to magnificent statues, chunky lighting, regular live jazz and a feeling of stepping back in time (to somewhere in upmarket France).
A tiny but enticing store in the heart of the city, Designist is very much in the ‘you won’t have seen one of these before’ gift market. Everything in here is beautiful, from the abundant journals to the carefully shaped chopping boards and delicate locally produced soaps. We particularly like the Sugru home-hack sets, the oblique references to Ireland’s political climate and the collection of local small-run books.
A trip outside the city to the National Print Museum finishes off a design tour nicely, with both a glance at the past and a look at how modern printers are using old-school methods to expand on the soulful and surprisingly popular Irish screen printing industry. There are events to attend, exhibits celebrating the crooked, thrown-together but iconic printing of the Irish Declaration of Independence, workshops to have a go yourself and of course that essential (and gorgeous) shop in the midst of it all.