Shining an international spotlight on Irish craft, international home d?cor company The Citizenry launch their Ireland Collection today. Featuring Arran Street East ceramics, linen from the Banbridge Linen Workshop, Hill Picket Studio's serving boards and tweed pillows from Mourne Textile Workshop, we caught up with company founders Carly Nance and Rachel Bentley, after returning from their Ireland tour earlier this year.
How was your trip to Ireland?
Carly Good! We thoroughly enjoyed it. It was our first trip to the country, and it definitely won't be the last. From the picturesque landscapes to the welcoming people, we couldn't get enough of it. We were there to visit our partners and work with them on developing our new collection. We are working with four different partners from all over Ireland. When it's a truly collaborative process, that's when we end up with something really beautiful.
Rachel Our design inspiration always comes from a traditional pattern or technique to start, and then we work to put a modern spin on the design. There's something really inspiring about watching our partners execute techniques and designs that have been made for centuries. We now work with over 300 artisans across four countries, and interactions with each usually lights huge creative sparks during the development process. That's why we insist on travelling to every artisan workshop and visiting our partners in person.
A selection of tweed pillows from The Mourne Textile Workshop
What excites you most about working with Irish makers?
Rachel For a small country, Ireland has such diversity of craft techniques and design perspectives. Our hope for this collection is to showcase that richness and depth. We have a tabletop collection featuring pieces made from Irish timber and ceramics from Dublin and a collection of textiles made with Irish linen and Donegal tweed.
Monduff serving boards from the Hill Picket Studio
What did you think of the craft you encountered?
Carly What impressed me most about Irish craft is how it is so deeply rooted in a sense of place. The Irish landscape almost comes alive in the designs - from the simple colour palettes and clean lines to?the unexpected textures and patterns, you can trace the origin in each piece.
Halston pitchers from Arran Street East?
How do you find your suppliers?
Carly We choose places for our collections based on a brilliant natural resource and a history of craftsmanship and expertise in a certain category. We're always looking for techniques we haven't seen before and pieces that can be reimagined in a more modern way.
Rachel From there, we choose artisan partners who are the best at what they do. This takes a lot of research and time on the ground. It's crazy how someone always knows someone or locals can point you to specific techniques in different villages. Many of our greatest relationships have been built by travelling off the beaten path.
Belmont napkins from The Banbridge Linen Workshop
How do they benefit from working with you?
Rachel Something that sets our business apart is how we make relationship building a top priority. We build long-term, sustainable partnerships with our artisan partners so that as we grow, they do as well. The successes we celebrate are the expanded workshops, the improved living conditions for artisans in diverse places from Uganda to Peru, as well as increased access to education.
Carly Since we work directly with artisans and sell directly to consumers, both parties benefit. Some of the world's most beautiful products and artisan cultures are disappearing because there aren't enough ways to build a sustainable income with their craft. We're proving that thoughtful design - for products and supply chain - can change that game.
Meeting the locals on their tour around Ireland?
Rachel After launching Ireland Collection, the plan is to launch one or two more collections before the end of the year.
Carly As you grow, it's definitely tempting to take the easy route and just do things the way they've been done before, but we are challenging ourselves to continue to push boundaries. We're going to continue to take the road less travelled, quite literally.
The Ireland Collection is available now from The Citizenry, where you can also find craft from Uganda, Mexico, Peru and Argentina.