Home Front: interiors, design, people, events

A special toy for bored dogs; home improvements on the rise, and woman designers at dlr Lexicon

After Sandy the labrador shredded her humans’ wedding album, industrial designer James McIlvenna set out to invent a toy that would keep her occupied and off the destruction trail. His solution is a series of colourful, interlocking shapes that a dog has to work through to get at a treat inside. He consulted with vets, trainers and owners in developing the toys and he’s taking it to Crufts this weekend to test the market among privileged pooches. The toys are already for sale in several pet shops across the country.

“The idea with the K9 Connectables series of toys is that you stuff the dog’s favourite food inside and connect them together,” says McIlvenna . “And the connections are designed with a three-ring system which can gradually make the task even harder for your pet; for example, it takes Sandy 45 minutes of constant play to get her reward of peanut butter inside the toys.” Yum.

McIlvenna, who has degrees in industrial design and medical-device design, emigrated to China for two years during the downturn. After moving home to Ireland, he and his wife, Lauren, got Sandy, who proved to have a low boredom threshhold. "A lot of dogs suffer from separation anxiety. When you leave the house, the dog just gets bored and has to channel their energy somewhere," he says. Exercise alone is never enough for a dog; they need stimulation and to be mentally engaged."

See k9connectables.com


Skipping through home improvements

Like daffodils the skips are out and according to Ted Laverty of onlinetradesman.ie his site has seen a 28 per cent increase in the number of projects being carried out. The service, which links homeowners who need work done with tradespeople who can do the work, logged more than 58,000 repair and home-improvement projects in 2916, the most popular jobs being interior painting and kitchen refits, with house extensions up 38 per cent on the previous year. The average home improvement project spend in 2016 was €3,658, a year-on-year increase of 18 per cent, and a a cumulative job value of more than €212m, says Laverty, who set up the site in 2006 and kept it going during the lean years after the property collapse. It's now the country's largest online source of qualified tradesmen and builders.

See onlinetradesman.ie

Woman designers’ demonstrations at Dún Laoghaire

To mark International Women’s Day, Dún Laoghaire is hosting a weekend of female craft designer/maker demonstrations with events being held at the Irish Design Gallery, at the dlr LexIcon Library and at the Pavilion Theatre. Artists

Thelma Mansfield


Orla Walsh

, who is best known for her Tayto/Ketchup pop pieces, will be on hand, along with jewellery designer

Tracy Gilbert

, who will be demonstrating finishes on some of her silver pieces. Deborah von Metzradz, who used to hand-bead for designer Ib Jorgensen in the early 1990s, will show how she hand-stitches her amazing neckpieces.

The gallery, which is open every day from 11am to 5pm, is situated in the listed Moran Park House beside the new library. Overall, the work of more than 45 designers will be on show, including paintings jewellery, scarves, bags, woollens, wood, ceramics and textiles.