Showcase Lowdown - Irish design back with a renewed sense of confidence
This week we took the opportunity to get out from behind the till and see what Showcase Ireland had to offer. We loved meeting so many talented people, and getting reacquainted with familiar faces - and meeting new ones too.
Aside from the fact that you could tell everyone was dying for the chats, after their two year hiatus, there was a sense of confidence from the designers we talked to that was very evident. Having taken the chance to reflect afforded by the pandemic, the standard of product on show had really moved up a notch. The result is more well resolved products, lots of interesting collaborations, more refined packaging and clearer branding all around. I also got the feeling that the trend towards shopping small and local had pulled the focus to designing for the Irish Market, rather than overseas buyers, although there were plenty at the show.
As with every year, Showcase is a brilliant show for getting a snapshot of what’s happening in Irish Craft & Design, and there were some very clear trends this year. Despite the international resurgence of the Aran jumper there was a definite move away from traditional crafts towards fashion. The perfect example being award winners Una Burke & Irish Linen Shirt Company, neither of whom could be considered as anything but high fashion.
Sustainability - everyone we talked to was looking at ways to reduce their packaging and make what they had to use more reusable and kinder to the environment. Sean from Badly Made Books, who has been leading the way in sustainable stationery for some years now, has a new range of papers for the covers of his notebooks that are made from recycled food waste products that act as natural colouring in the covers, and a new 99 notebook that’s made from 99% recycled materials. Badly Made Books were also the winner of the sustainability award.
Wellness / Selfcare- Candles everywhere but you can really see how much work has been done over the past year to distinguish different brands from each other. We particularly loved Rowan Beg’s new range of connemara diffusers which bring together the beauty of dried flowers and their gorgeous scents to create an object of beauty, which we’re hoping to have in the shop very shortly.
We were delighted to see Sam agus Nessa’s beautiful new range of furniture pieces including a wall mirror & dining table and benches that are a real mix of rustic, minimalist and generous that has the beauty of native Irish wood at its core, and is really in keeping with the overall brand.
The Local Enterprise Showcase is a great opportunity to find new products and meet emerging brands and we were delighted to get to meet some of our new suppliers for the first time, like Elaine from Hawthorn Handmade Skincare, and also some of our old favourites like Irish Socksciety and Stork & Co, who have expanded their gift range to include some gorgeous little toy foxes we were particularly taken with.
While technology has made it possible to never go to a trade fair again, there was an energy and a connection from meeting with suppliers that just can’t be replicated any other way. Hearing their stories and enthusiasm first hand gives you exactly what you need to do their products justice when you represent them in the shop.