See How a Modern Linen Studio Weaves its Magic

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Brother-and-sister team Lorcan and Sarah Quinn have set out to revive Co Down's rich linen tradition - while putting their own colourful, contemporary stamp on it. Click through the gallery above for a virtual tour of Enrich & Endure's inspiring workspaces...

What do you when you've spent seven years working in the property market and need a new creative challenge? If you're Lorcan Quinn - marketing brains behind Banbridge textile start-up Enrich & Endure - you go into the linen business with your arty little sister. ?I was in New Zealand visiting Sarah when we came up with the idea,? begins Lorcan. ?We had both taken time out to travel, and I was keen to start a new career in something I really cared about. We both have an eye for design - Sarah studied art at university - and we thought working together could be an exciting adventure.?

Hailing from Banbridge, Co Down, a town steeped in the traditions of linen production, the two were well placed to realise their newly hatched linen vision. One of the last world-renowned Irish linen weavers, Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen, dating from 1854, was working right on their doorstep. ?We are incredibly fortunate to have Ferguson's here,? says Sarah. ?The Irish linen and weaving industry is an integral part of our heritage in Banbridge. But we like to think we're steering the boundaries of the industry in a young and creative direction.?

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Above: Colourful napkins from the Enrich & Endure range

On their return to Ireland, Sarah and Lorcan swiftly set about converting an old outbuilding in the grounds of Ferguson's into their studio. ?It's a real bonus being within walking distance of the looms,? says Lorcan. Here, Sarah dreams up her subtle yet daring designs. While Irish linen is traditionally white or muted, Enrich & Endure like their designs to be shot through with vibrant colour. ?Weaving bright tones through the weft and white on the warp gives our linens beautiful pastel tones,? says Sarah. ?We don't like too much detail; we like to keep our designs minimal and let the fabric do the talking.?

What inspires her in her creative process? ?Real-life experience - always,? says Sarah. ?Especially personal and travel memories - the beautiful landscape of Wanaka, New Zealand, my grandfather's garden, hot summers in the South of France? I work best from visually stimulating moodboards which plaster the walls of our studio - I call it artistic clutter!?

All of Enrich & Endure's fabric is woven by expert weavers either locally in Banbridge or in Donegal. ?They weave our designs to our spec. We then receive all our fabrics directly off the loom and do all our finishing inhouse,? explains Sarah. ?We have a fantastic team of lovely ladies that work with us in production. They sew on retro Juki industrial machines, all of which are considerably older than ourselves. Hand-crafting our products can certainly be a challenge but the reward of the finished linen is undoubtedly worth it.?

?Linen is a natural product - it breathes, just like skin,? adds Lorcan. ?It has durability and can be handed down as an heirloom and treasured generations from now. It has this incredible ability to age beautifully and become softer with washing.?

So which of the siblings calls the shots? ?As creative director, I like to think I'm in charge,? laughs Sarah. ?In reality, Lorcan masterminds the marketing, which enables us to get our products out there for me to continue developing new designs. So, although we both probably think we single-handedly run the show, it's definitely a joint effort!?

Enrich & Endure's contemporary Irish linenware is stocked in Maven, Belfast (wearemaven.co.uk), and online at enrichandendure.com.

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Words:?Sharon Miney.?Photography:?Matthew Thompson.

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