With traditions in heritage craft disciplines ranging from basketry through to woodworking, the work of Irish craftspeople is recognised worldwide as an exemplar of high-quality handmade goods. Dublin‘s craft and design shops are well-placed to handpick the best of both native and international design, enabling them to cater to a clientele that balances increasingly global tastes with a passion for buying local. Here are the finest design stores this creative city has to offer.
Scout began as a refined boutique, stocking a stylish selection of vintage-wear and contemporary clothing by cutting-edge international and Irish clothing designers like Emma Manley, but in recent years proprietor Wendy Crawford has incorporated homewares into her growing repertoire. Her petite, beautifully arranged store now offers a collection of household items such as Donegal tweed wool blankets and La Bougie artisan candles hand-poured in County Cork, as well as designs from more widely known brands like House Doctor. Crawford always has great music playing, making perusing all the more enjoyable. On your way there make sure to stop by the winsome Gutter Bookshop, just across the way on the corner of Cow’s Lane.
Stationed in one of Dublin’s most dynamic design areas – the delectable Drury Street – Irish Design Shop was set up by jewellers Clare Grennan and Laura Caffrey to promote the work of the best designer-makers in Ireland today. This duo celebrates contemporary practitioners of heritage crafts on their way to becoming household names. Shelves are adorned with the work of people like star ceramicist Adam Frew and woodturner Roy Humphreys, who hand-turns every unique bowl from ash found in County Leitrim. Bright and brimming with character, the shop has become a reliable place to find unique Irish-made gifts, with many locals doing much of their Christmas shopping here. As well as kitchen items, they also carry super-soft Irish woollen textiles, art prints, locally made soaps, and, of course, jewellery. Last year the pair launched their own modular 16-piece jewellery range called Names, with each piece named for a woman in their family.
Next door to Irish Design Shop you’ll find Industry & Co, an independent lifestyle store that has become a firm favourite of Dublin-based design devotees. A spacious outfit with a surprisingly welcoming warehouse feel, it is a mecca for proponents of upcycling, with merchandise neatly displayed on pared-back wooden pallets. Industry & Co was established by interior designer Vanessa Mac Innes, who travels the world sourcing simple, hardworking homewares and accessories to bring home to Dublin shoppers. Customers seem to gravitate towards the low-key luxury lifestyle items and the broad assortment of industrial clamp lighting in particular. Beloved European brands like HAY and Falcon are well-represented here, but Mac Innes also carries goods by Irish craftspeople like Arran Street East, makers of beautiful, usable hand-thrown pottery. The adjoining café serves Roasted Brown coffee, roasted in Wicklow, and tea from the ever-lovely Wall & Keogh in Dublin’s Portobello.
For a touch more colour and quirk visit Article, a decorative homeware haven located on the bottom floor of the historic Powerscourt Centre under the capacious high ceilings of Lord Powerscourt’s former dressing room. Here in this light and airy space, owner John Adams has assembled a carefully curated edit of vibrant kitchenware, Irish-made throws and cushions, mid-century seating and smart stationery that come from a wide range of sources at home and abroad. Although charmingly eclectic, every piece is in keeping with Adams’ own impeccable taste, resulting in a retail experience that is fun, yet cohesive, and a delight to explore. I dare you not to leave with at least one Bloomingville trinket, or some mix-and-match stoneware dinner plates by the French brand Jars Ceramics.
Shortlisted for the Irish Times Best Shop award three times (in 2014, 2013 and 2012), Designist on South Great George’s Street is a design-led gift and homeware store with a refreshingly collaborative approach. Founded by the trio of Anne Lynott, Jennie Flynn and Barbara Nolan in 2010, Designist has worked with a host of emerging Irish craftspeople to bring their uniquely ‘beautiful, useful and affordable’ products to a waiting market. Their delightful store is a treasure trove of weird and wonderful objects, where mugs printed with Irish slang sit alongside rechargeable lights shaped like corks that turn old bottles into lamps. Popular products include illustrated notebooks, Dublin city prints and Designist’s own range of endearing greeting cards, developed and produced in-house.
Located a little outside the city centre in the trendy residential area of Ranelagh, a visit to Seven Wood is more than worth the short Luas journey. Originally started as a pop-up by Niamh Banks, former head of buying for the iconic Avoca‘s homewares department, Seven Wood has blossomed into a permanent fixture of the Dublin design scene. Working from her beautifully appointed store on the village’s main street, Banks handles a covetable collection of restored vintage furniture, beautiful ceramics and organic apothecary ranges such as L:A Bruket and Compagnie de Provence. She has also collaborated with award-winning Irish furniture maker Cillian Ó Súilleabháin on the ‘Parquet Table’ – a project designed around reclaimed parquet flooring that originated from Queens University Belfast.
The brothers behind this highly successful venture, Jonathan and Mark Legge, have managed to infuse the sensibilities of a true love for traditional craft into a modern online retail outlet. Working with makers from Ireland and international designers, their online store showcases small batches of carefully made objects, each with its own story. Aesthetics and simplicity are paramount – each item is endlessly useable but also beautiful enough to evoke an emotional response. A piece bought from Makers & Brothers is more likely to be an investment than an impulse buy: their products are designed to be cherished. Though most of their business is online, curious shoppers can visit their ‘shed’ in Blackrock, while at Christmas they have been know to run ‘Makers & Brothers at Home’, a cosy retail experience set within their Georgian home.
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