There’s something very enjoyable about choosing one lovely thing, whether large or small, for the home. It might be a single piece of glass for a sideboard, framed textile art for a wall or a luxurious rug for a livingroom floor. Whatever it is, Irish artists, designers and craft workers are the obvious first port of call.
In Wexford, Ceadogán Rugmakers, established in 1981, features the work of Irish designers including Zoe Choy-O'Byrne, who found her opening there in 2016 through a collaborative project with the company and the National College of Art and Design. Since then she has graduated with a degree in textiles and surface design, and travelled to New York to work with a digital fabric printing studio.
Now back in Ireland, Choy-O’Byrne has returned to Ceadogán and, along with five other designers working with the company, has just added new pieces to its collection.
Influenced by her time in New York, her designs explore the theme of movement, inspired by the “overground subway” that was right outside her window.
“The rugs observe the shadows and soothing chugging vibrations caused by the passing trains. They capture a sense of playful movement and an energy of discovery,” she says.
Ceadogán itself began as a hearth rug business under Tom Ceadogán. It’s now run by Denis Kenny who, after stints as a fisherman, teacher and pig-farmer, undertook took an apprenticeship with Ceadogán, and acquired the business in 1989.
New horizons in textiles
Irish textile artist Laura Conneely, based in Rathfarnham in Dublin, specialises in creating textile art pieces of Irish landscapes and wildflowers. She says her work is inspired by her love of landscape instilled in her from a young age growing up in Connemara. After 20 years in the business sector, with a bit of time out for her three children, she returned to art college as a mature student in her 40s.
“I decided to take a chance and try something completely different,” she says. “I spent the most challenging and enjoyable two years studying creative textiles.” After graduating, she built up a body of work and set up a small business in early 2020.
With the onset of Covid-19, plans to sell her work at indoor markets were shelved. With the help of a trading online voucher she has got a website up and running, and hopes to get into outdoor and indoor markets when the lockdown lifts.
Blown away by glass designs
In Kilkenny, Jerpoint Glass Studio, set up by Keith and Kathleen Leadbetter, has been designing and producing handmade glass for more than 40 years. The couple's son Rory has become a master glassblower while their daughter Róisín designs the pieces.
The entire range is handmade at their studio in Stoneyford and aims to combine beauty and function to create high-quality, contemporary Irish glass. A new line, the Monochrome collection, is just out and includes tableware such as jugs, beakers and a new tulip-shaped wine glass in subtle shades of olive, copper and smoke.
“I find myself at a stage in my craft where I have the necessary skills to explore new designs and ideas,” says Rory Leadbetter. “I am now concentrating on refining the finish of a piece which I feel really shows itself with the Monochrome collection.