Design Life: An ethical focus inspires my work

Design Life: An ethical focus inspires my work

Lisa Tonge Owner, Green Dot Design Shop.

What’s your background?

I am from Dublin and came to Clonakilty in 2013 and have been here ever since. My partner is Frank, a Norwegian brewer who is behind Clonakilty Brewing Company, and we have two brilliant children, Sofia and Daniel.

The shop and studiodeveloped from a small, home-based, baby-gift craft business called Little Green Dot which I began in 2013.

I love to make things and am always coming up with new ideas. I am a self-taught craftsperson (except for a few tips from my granny) and have learnt so much in this work.

What’s a typical workday like for you?

There is a lot of juggling, especially as I and my partner are both self-employed, but on a normal workday there is a lot of coffee; meeting and interacting with customers and makers; organising the shop and planning for what’s next; delving into the mountain of admin; and, if I’m lucky, I might get to make something.

There are so many people making amazing things in Ireland at the moment (and they all have interesting stories to tell) and customers are so interested in where and how things are made that the day can easily fly past with just talking about beautiful Irish design and the people behind it.

Tell us about a recent project you have worked on?

This year, we rebranded as Green Dot – Irish Design Makers, which focuses on supporting the work of people who live in our towns and communities.

The shop now stocks the work of over 40 local creatives, and I expanded the website to include the work of all these wonderful makers. The reaction and support locally have been great.

What’s your design style?

I like playing with colour and a clean, fresh finish to things. I also like to mix different styles, and this can change depending on my mood and/or the season.

I like design that is well thought out and properly executed, the kind of thing where you can see proper care and time has been taken.

I think this approach guides me in many ways, both professionally and personally.

View this post on Instagram

Our window is done...finally 🎄❤ 🍾 Here's a little peek of some of our beautiful wares 🤗

A post shared by Green Dot-Irish Design Makers (@greendotdesignshop) on

What inspires your work?

My original baby gift business, Little Green Dot, which I began as I wanted to be sure about the conditions that things were made in, the materials that were used and that everyone was being treated fairly in the process.

This ethical focus still very much inspires my work. Nowadays, this translates into using socially-responsibly materials for Little Green Dot products and ensuring that I know the makers in the shop, how they work and that they are genuinely “the real deal”.

Your favourite trend?

The current focus on sustainability is hugely positive and I think homegrown craft and design has massive potential.

The thirst for eco-friendly and sustainable materials and practises is obviously good for everyone and the planet.

In addition, by supporting makers and creatives that live in our towns and communities, it helps make our communities more sustainable (and interesting), especially in rural Ireland.

What’s your most treasured possession?

My most treasured “possession” is my super little family.

Your style inspiration?

That is such a tricky question as I am a bit of a magpie for beautiful things.

I love the drama and bright colours of Frida Kahlo’s work. I am also spoilt as I am surrounded by amazing design all the time.

I love the fabrics and patterns of Mr Kite Designs and beautiful style of Molly in Ewe Sir, as well as the timeless quality of Mary O’Regan’s pottery.

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Thank you so much to the wonderful @aileenleecork and @irish_examiner for this weekend's feature on me and my little shop ❤ chuffed 🤗

A post shared by Green Dot-Irish Design Makers (@greendotdesignshop) on

What’s your dream project?

I would love to work on developing beautiful design using recycled or upcycled materials.

I would also like to develop a space where makers and craftspeople can showcase their skills and people can learn techniques such as basketry, wood-turning, jewellery-making etc, as well as purchase the fruits of their labour.

Have you any design tips?

Choose what you love as opposed to following fashion (you are the one that has to live with it).

Search for inspiration in the work of local craftspeople and creatives as there are amazing and beautiful things being made all over this country.

www.greendotdesignshop.com; www.facebook.com/greendotdesignshop; www.instagram.com/greendotdesignshop

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