The Irish Design 2015 initiative explored a bold claim: “Design creates a better world.” Throughout 2015, events were planned all over the Emerald Isle to raise the profile of Irish design and designers. As the calendar year comes to a close, there are more opportunities than ever for travelers to discover and enjoy their work.
Where to Stay
The Marker Hotel
For design with an impact, look to The Marker Hotel, a five-star property located in the heart of the Dublin Docklands. The bold, geometric design is a refreshing change in a city full of Georgian architecture, and extends through the striking lobby and into the ground floor brasserie. The visual playfulness continues with an inviting indoor infinity pool. (Check out the stellar spa, too.) Rooms mix soft neutrals with vibrant hues of indigo and mustard. But the supreme feature of the property must be its rooftop bar and terrace, an upscale space for cocktails with a view over the city skyline and out to the mountains and sea beyond.
The Dean Hotel
Young and buzzy, The Dean is all about atmosphere. This 52-room boutique hotel on Harcourt Street follows the formula of an all-day gathering place: as appealing for an early morning coffee as it is for after work cocktails in the Dean Bar or for dinner on the roof at Sophie’s. Dubliners use the hotel’s common spaces as a living room, so expect to rub elbows with locals during your stay. The unfussy, hip vibe extends to the rooms as well, which are colorful and cozy and feature Irish art on the walls, vinyl for the turntable, and a Marshall amp for connecting to your gadgets. The Dean has a party spirit that is alive and well—but just in case, there are even earplugs on the bedside table.
Where to Shop
Irish Design Shop
Approximately 50 Irish designers and makers are represented on the shelves of the Irish Design Shop, a cozy destination store on Drury Street in Dublin’s city center that showcases Irish craft and design. Clare Grennan and Laura Caffrey—both with a background in metalwork—began by selling their jewelry at weekend markets. This humble beginning expanded into a couple of pop-ups, a gallery shop, and finally, a brick-and-mortar store where design enthusiasts of all budgets will find a range of items to love. Expect thoughtful stationery, jewelry, accessories, house-wares, prints, books, calendars, and more—all designed and made in Ireland. The ground floor retail space is topped with metalwork studios on the upper floors.
The IMMA Shop
The leading destination for contemporary and modern art in Ireland is found outside Dublin’s city center in Kilmainham at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, or IMMA. Set in the former Royal Hospital Kilmainham and dating back to the 17th century, the museum is home to The IMMA Shop, a bright and spacious store filled with prints, greeting cards, art-related books, ceramics, and gifts. After browsing, take a stroll in the formal gardens outside or grab a coffee from Café itsa@IMMA. (Museum and shop are closed on Mondays.)
me & him & you
This Irish design company has created a City Series of silk-screen prints featuring cityscapes from around the globe, along with the city’s signature drink. These hand-pulled prints are a tribute to Irish emigration and are available featuring a wide range of cities, including Paris, Berlin, San Francisco, and Seattle. Buy online.
Where to Eat
Forest AvenueOne of Dublin’s most dynamic dining experiences is found at Forest Avenue, an informal and inviting restaurant with an open kitchen. Run by a husband and wife team, John and Sandy Wyer, this neighborhood spot serves an affordable five-course tasting menu for 49€. The best seats in the house are near the open kitchen, where an incredible precision and artistic touch is on display with each plate. Settle in for an evening of culinary entertainment. Paired wines are also available for a reasonable 40€ a person.
Located on the southside of the River Liffey in Portobello, Sister Sadie is a cozy neighborhood spot that serves homemade sweet treats, including scones, brownies, and cakes, along with a full menu of more substantial dishes like pulled pork sandwiches. Design outfit Designgoat is behind Sister Sadie (and its sibling, Brother Hubbard), designing everything from the logo and furniture down to the copper pendants and small copper bowls on the tables.
Jessica Colley Clarke