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The return of neon, Wood Awards results and making new photos as good as old

When supermodel Kate Moss set up her own talent agency last month she wanted the name, KM, up in lights – or up in neon to be exact.

Garish, gorgeous neon is having a moment, as fashion luvvies might say, and that’s thanks in part to Bag&Bones, a London company set up by Irish sisters Gigi and Cavanagh Foyle whose lit-up flamingos, lightning bolts and slogans have made neon cool again – literally.

The tube lighting has always had a seedy romantic charm but its composition, gas inside glass, made it too delicate and dangerous for domestic use.

Bag&Bones has come up with an LED version that looks as good as the real thing, but is easily handled, cost-effective and can be plugged in and switched on at home.

After less than five months in business, the company has notched up an impressive list of mostly fashion clients – including Alexander McQueen, Grazia magazine and the Wilderness Festival in Oxford.

Now the sisters, from Clifden in Co Galway, are looking to set up a second outlet in Dublin, and will open a Christmas pop-up shop in Temple Bar next month. The plan is to open a permanent store in Dublin in the new year.

Meanwhile, although the sisters are busy keeping up with online demand for their off-the-peg neon art pieces – which cost from around €205 to €500 – and customised slogans that sell for up to €1,000 each, they’re also working on a range of mini pieces, lightning bolts and hearts, that will sell for about €55 each.

The Foyles grew up in Clifden but Gigi studied science in Edinburgh before moving to London a decade ago. Cavanagh studied law and currently works as a solicitor in Dublin, designing neon pieces at night, but she is planning to work full-time at Bag&Bones in the new year.

The sisters import the off-the-peg signs but they make the customised pieces themselves, working from lines of poetry, peoples’ pet names and favourite sayings.

Bag&Bones will have a pop-up store in Dublin at The Library Project, Temple Bar on December 2nd and 3rd.

Wood wins

A gate lodge near the Dublin Mountains built with Himalayan cedars, which had fallen nearby, exudes warmth and sustainability. The resulting serene, cosy home has won Donaghy + Dimond Architects a highly commended in this year’s Wood Awards.

Wood “requires respect and knowledge, as well as art and science”, says State Architect Ciarán O’Connor, a timber expert, who chaired the judging panel.

Someone whose gift for this has gained him a reputation beyond these shores is furniture designer Joseph Walsh, who won an Innovation Award after spreading his wings to form a dancing piece in spiralling ash for a sculpture park in Salisbury, England.

Ryan Connolly, meanwhile, won the Furniture Award for his beautifully crafted pieces for Optica opticians on Dublin's Dawson Street.

Gottstein Architects were commended for creating a calm but dynamic mix of Douglas fir, American black walnut, American white oak and glulam in a Dublin extension, while GKMP Architects were highly commended for their use of American white oak in a Dublin Georgian house – showing how wood can be modern and timeless.

The main awards were for non-domestic projects, with the Samuel Beckett Civic Campus community centre in Dún Laoghaire by Bucholz McEvoy Architects being the overall winner, and the Model School in Inchicore by Donaghy + Dimond Architects and the exquisite Carmelite Prayer Room in St Teresa's Church, Dublin by Níall McLaughlin Architects picking up other main awards.

O’Connor praised the projects for exploring the properties of wood and developing the relationship between form and technology while also meeting the needs of the clients.

Darkroom delights

“We can’t help noticing the trend back to all things analogue: vinyl albums, walkman/cassettes, records players, bare bulb lighting, cord electrical cables, polaroid instant prints, Super-8 wedding films – you get the drift,” says Margaret Moore of Photogenic, the southside Dublin photography agency she runs with husband Barry Moore.

The agency never completely switched to digital film, and held onto its on-site darkrooms where it develops its distinctive black-and-white and sepia prints on traditional silver halide paper.

The finished signed pieces are of gallery quality that’s quite distinct. The service isn’t cheap.

A basic package of a photography session and a single framed picture costs €350 but, typically, a family will spend between €650 and €1,200 (and more, depending on how many different portraits are ordered).