Checking out the cream of Irish design plus some great storage for kids’ rooms

Home Front: Interiors, design, people, events



No one needs an excuse to visit Galway during the international arts festival. But if Conall Morrison’s Woyzeck in Winter, a new opera by Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh, Roddy Doyle’s Two Pints, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and the chance to build your own cathedral – or some other outsized architectural creation – courtesy of Olivier Grossetete’s The People Build aren’t tempting enough to take you west during the next couple of weeks, how about the chance to check out the cream of the current Irish design scene? The work of nine designers will be on show at Irish Design Works 2017, an exhibition at the Niland Gallery on Merchant Road, which opens on Monday and runs for the duration of the festival. Ben Gabriel’s furniture uses native hardwoods and geometric designs mixed with glass and steel; Shane Holland brings bespoke furniture and lighting from the Boyne Valley. The seas off the coast of Donegal inspire Michelle O’Donnell’s richly-coloured glass, while Daniel Gill makes elegant, Shaker-inspired pieces from willow. The show is open from 11am to 7pm daily, and admission is free.


One of the makers featured in that show, Tommy Carew, will be selling his wares at the Creative Makers Galway pop-up shop at the Cornstore Mall, in the heart of the city, from Monday until the end of the month. The Galway-based designer’s JAS carver chair has both a contemporary edge and a comfy, “worn-in” look: his slimline carpenter’s chairs hark back to the English regency style. His signature lovebirds, though, are especially adorable. Made by hand from native oak, using tools which Carew first handled as a young maker in his father’s workshop in Co Limerick, the graceful birds are intended to perch side by side in the home, the very embodiment of peace, partnership and positive, loving relationships. “Sculpting these birds brings me to the still and calm of nature,” says Carew, “not only through subject matter but also through process and the choice of materials.” They make a stylish sort of wedding present, too.


The future of Ireland’s crafts seems assured, if this week’s announcement from the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCol) is anything to go by. Its Future Makers award programme provides a total of €22,500 to some 23 students and emerging makers at a key stage in their development, setting them on the road to a successful career in the field of craft and design. The successful applicants were chosen for their demonstration of a broad range of skills, from design interpretation and innovation to their use of traditional and contemporary techniques. Winner of the Future Maker of the Year award 2017 (€3,000) was the furniture maker Alan Meredith from Co Laois, for what the judges called “a beautiful contemporary collection of skilfully executed pieces”, including his ebony oak chair. Dublin-based furniture maker Simon Doyle received the Innovation Award (€1,500) while The Design Award (€1,000) was presented to knitwear designer Pearl Reddington. The jewellery designer Pierce Healy received the Imagined Futures Award (€1,000).


So, where would you like to spend some time this holiday season? A deserted Mediterranean island? The affluent streets of northern Europe? The colours of Fleetwood’s new Vogue collection from its Prestige range, have been designed to bring your home in some radically new directions. They aim to tell the stories and evoke the atmosphere of some iconic summer destinations, from the rosy Mediterranean sunset hues of San Savino to the bright-lights-big-city burnt orange of 1860 Manhattan. The warm white of Santorini Stone conjures up the simple clarity of light on a volcanic Greek island – partner it with some sculptural house plants for an on-the-button botanic feel – while if urban steely cool is more your thing, the soft grey of Gothenburg offers an elegant base on which to build some Scandi chic. For a bracing coastal vibe, team the dusty blue variations of the Hamptons shades with some striped prints and nautical-themed accessories. And voila! Available at selected stockists nationwide. Prices range from €21.99 for a one-litre can to €72.99 for five litres.


Now, who doesn’t love a birthday party? Especially when you can blow out the candles, cut up the cake, give everyone a piece, gobble it up, collect the plates – and then do the whole thing again. And again. (And again.)

It’s a two-year-old’s idea of tremendous fun, and Aldi’s wooden play food sets – you can have pizza if you prefer, or there’s a healthy fruit option complete with tomato, carrot and chopping board – are guaranteed to keep young cooks happily occupied for hours.

Parents, of course, will be more concerned about what happens to the various bits and pieces afterwards: which is where the new Aldi collection of furniture and storage solutions comes into play.

At €49.99, a cupboard with cutout handles is just the job for closing the door on clutter, while a shelf unit with a solid wood frame (€29.99) is as stylish as it is practical.

There’s also a clever sling shelf unit which makes it easy for toddlers to spot their favourite books. As for the A-frame shelf unit, also €29.99, well, gardeners of all ages will have their eye on that one as a way of to helping to disguise the bald spots currently emerging in the borders.

All products will be in Aldi stores on Sunday July 16th.