I am at the end of an amazing week of work in Ireland. I have been busy,giving trend seminars and workshops to craftspeople and retailers of craft products in Drogheda and Leitrim.
Both places have a delightful craft community. And each has a community shop dedicated to local craft products. A picture of the products at Craftmark, where I visited with the staff in Drogheda, is included. Take a peek at the lovely vases on the left below.
I can’t decide which sessions I enjoyed more, the ones where I visited with the shop employees to discuss the role they can play in emphasizing trend in their assortment selection and merchandising, or the longer presentations to makers, providing a forward trend message they can integrate into their product development.
Sometimes the mood can feel a bit awkward when suggestions about colors, shapes or motifs are made to a craftsperson. In many cases, these people consider themselves artists rather than entrepreneurs engaged in commerce. But while they want to be true to their artistic vision they also want to sell their wares so there is some give and take necessary. That’s where my color and design forecasts come into the picture. It all seemed to work quite well this week.
We had a nice-sized group of makers together in each city. Look left for a picture of several members of one Drogheda group working on a group exercise where I challenged everyone to come up with a product based on one of the trends I discussed in my seminar. Our groups really thought outside the box and had a lot of fun.
It was interesting to learn that many of these makers design and make both home décor and apparel products, and they go back and forth between these two categories seamlessly. It was equally interesting that many of them were interested in how those products can relate to the eco trend—not just about what aspects of it were appropriate to focus on, but also whether buying fewer items, but better and more well-designed ones, would be a result of environmental awareness world-wide. These conversations had real depth and texture, as well as concern.
In Leitrim I attended a fashion show on Tuesday night. It featured some amazing work by more than 40 Irish designers. It confirmed once again that creativity is waiting to be found everywhere, not just in big cities. I have included the only shot from my camera that was not completely blurry. (I have new admiration for runway photographers now!) This was one of two models who walked with a dog. One dog did beautifully. The other saw her “mom” and would not stay with the model. Very cute!
I’ll be back in Ireland in just a couple of months. I am working for the second year with Crafts Council of Ireland to provide trend direction for the lifestyle display at the Showcase trade fair. And I will once again give seminars, this time to retail buyers and exhibitors who attend, and also to students from local design colleges and universities. If you are planning to be in Europe in January, consider stopping in at Showcase to see my selected trends displayed, attend my seminar and enjoy the beauty of Irish craft.