As Christmas fast approaches my native land is not exactly a place high on hope as the dastardly pantomime villain Economic Woe and his evil side-kick Recession hold fast their icy grasp on this fiscally challenged isle. A troika of wise (?) men visit us regularly but instead of bearing gifts of gold (if only) frankincense and myrrh they bring instead directives for the implementation of austerity measures from their (and our!) masters at the IMF. Yet, despite all that, when I went, this Saturday, to visit the pop up shop that was part of Christmas on the Square I came away filled with hope.
The square in question is Dublin’s magnificent Merrion Square; on three sides it has red-brick Georgian buildings and on the fourth venerable Irish institutions such as: The National Gallery, The National Museum, The Natural History Museum … The central part of the square is a railed-in public park – a charming green oasis in the heart of Georgian Dublin.
Claire and Laura from the Irish Design Shop, in association with The Merrion Square Innovation Network, organized the pop-up shop. The shop showcased Irish design, craft and artisan foods; sadly it was open for one day only. However the Irish Design Shop stocks a selection of products by most, although not all, of the makers featured here and of course most of the makers sell directly to the public.
The Irish Architectural Archive hosted the shop in their HQ at 45 Merrion Square. A selected group of Irish makers were there with their wares. There is something special about shopping for Christmas in the splendid surroundings of a high-celinged Georgian town house and being able to chat directly to the makers of the gift items one is buying. The place was absolutely thronged. I left filled with hope not just because there were so many talented young creatives selling their designs but also because the work of the Merrion Square Innovation Network, which seeks to raise awareness in Dublin and beyond of Merrion Square as an asset for the city, reminded me how much my native city has to offer.
Among the makers I met were:
Snow: Fiona Snow and her husband Mike Mohler set up Snow a design and fabrication company in 2011. (click here to see an earlier post I wrote about Snow) I loved Fiona Snow’s designs when I first saw them and nothing has changed – I still do.
Jennifer Slattery Textiles: Jennifer who is a graduate of the National College of Art and Design was the winner of the Future Makers Award 2012 for Design Development. She uses both digital printing and embroidery in her collections.
Magic Forest Toys: Joanna Luczak makes a hyper-cute range of colourful toys from quality fabrics.
Mint Designs: Mark Gilroy, Jack Connolly and Brian Byrne all graduates of the National College of Art and Design (industrial design) set up their Dublin based studio in 2010.
Dunbeacon Pottery: Helen Ennis makes her well designed, hand-thrown and affordable range of ceramics at her pottery in Durrus in scenic West Cork.
Jane Hayden Designs: Jane used to design clothes. She has now returned to her first love textile design. I really like the bow brooches made from vintage leather; these are excellent value at only five euro each.
The last picture collage shows ceramics by Adam Frew, an enticing poster invitation to visit Ireland by graphic designer Fergus O’Neill and chopping boards by Little Hill Designs. The Irish Design shop stock the chopping boards and the poster.
Lastly apologies for the quality of some of the images – I was trying to shoot on manual mode but obviously I have not yet fully mastered how to do so.