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How Clare Grennan and Laura Caffrey are Taking Names

Clare Grennan Names Irish Design Shop

Clare Grennan of Irish Design Shop shares how family heritage has shaped their ‘Names’ jewellery collection…

Having launched the Irish Design Shop in 2008, promoting Irish products and placing an emphasis on meriting the makers, the creative pair behind the store have recently ­ created Names, a jewellery line that brings together softness, femininity and geometrics.

Kathleen

Crafted from brass, rose and yellow gold, each piece in the collection is named for a woman in their family: The Bernie necklace, pictured above, is named after Clare’s mother who moved to Dublin from Gorey where she worked as a secretary. The Daisy bangle, above, is named after Laura’s great grandmother.

Image: Nana Halley

Nana Halley

Why did you decide to create the Names line?

Working on our first collection last year was a real journey. Devoting all our time to what became such a personal project, it seemed the perfect fit to name each piece after each of the women in our families. The ordinary working class stories of the women in our own families was far more interesting to us, and we thought customers would feel the same. The feedback on the short bios online so far has been really positive! Our mothers Bernie and Liz feel pretty flattered too.

Image: Al Higgans

Image: Al Higgins

How have the women in your families influenced your work?

Our mothers and grandmothers would be naturally creative, but out of circumstance none would have had the opportunity to pursue a career in the creative fields. What they have given us most is support. Our mothers can be our toughest critics too, hard to take at times, but also invaluable. It’s a shame our grannies aren’t around to see the jewellery. My Gran Elsie was always baffled by the idea of me going to Art College, it just wasn’t seen as a career path in our family. I’d love her to see how far we’ve come with the business.

Did you learn more about them as a result?

Absolutely! Particularly researching our great grannies whom we knew little or nothing about. Pestering aunties for information took up a lot of our time last summer. Laura had no idea her great grandmother Daisy led such an interesting life. She was a lady’s maid in 1920s London. While employed by an upper-class family, she met her husband who was the driver for the house. They were both fired as a result of their courtship. It’s a real shame that family members are sometimes forgotten – their stories may not be passed down. The project has given us such an interest to find out more about our family histories.

Image: Al Higgans

Image: Al Higgins

Has the geometric trend inspired you?  

I’d say definitely, either consciously or unconsciously. The final designs came from experimentation with the raw materials. We loved the different angles we were creating, and the contrasting finishes, which added interest. We are continuing with the geometric look for our cuff link designs but our next collection will be quite different. For us, we might be inspired by a jewellery technique or the raw material – experimentation takes months before final designs are realised.

Image: Al Higgans

Image: Al Higgins

Where do you source your materials?

We get all our metal from Irish suppliers. The chains are German made. Sourcing the right supplier and finding the right chain has been the most frustrating aspect of the journey so far. It’s important to us that raw materials are sourced from, if not Ireland, then Europe. We are discussing using recycled gold and silver for the next collection.

Anne Bangle

Anne Bangle

Did you envisage certain outfits to wear with the pieces?

We wanted the jewellery to appeal to a large audience and for it to be accessible, this was very important to us. The jewellery really suits a minimal look, be that formal or casual.

Any Irish designers they complement in particular?

We love Tissue – the tactility, palette and craftsmanship of their clothes. We’re really flattered by Hannah and Gráinne buying our work. We love the work of Irish designer Richard Malone too, not necessarily to complement our own work, just to marvel at. What an absolute talent.

Photos Courtesy of Irish Design Shop and Al Higgins.

 

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