Interior shops are expanding and new ones opening, offering products from some unexpected sources, writes Carol O’Callaghan.

Did I ever tell you the story about the man who came to cut the grass? He managed to get a clapped-out mower working with the aid of a few well-placed cables.

The same mower had been serviced professionally, spending a week in the shop where it was diagnosed with a fatal condition. It meant it would work on flat ground for a while, but would never work on a hill again, which was not good news as I live on a steep slope. 

It was also likely to pack up in the short term, and it did, that’s until Lukas made an appearance with some eastern ingenuity.

He told me that back in his home country, Poland, they repaired everything until it couldn’t be repaired anymore, and kept all spare materials, adapting them to resolve a given problem. 

The 366 chair, designed in Poland in1962 by Joseph Chierowski, is now produced under licence and available at new interiors shop Moodlii (€636).
The 366 chair, designed in Poland in1962 by Joseph Chierowski, is now produced under licence and available at new interiors shop Moodlii (€636).

It’s probably how Ireland was 50 years ago before we became a throw-away society and lost those essential life skills.

You see, creativity is not just the preserve of the arts. There’s creativity in the everyday too. I was reminded of the encounter when I visited the London Design Festival later that year.

While traipsing the stands, I was drawn to furniture from eastern European countries, touting their developing design sectors for the first time.

There was minimal use of materials, with strong workmanship and a design aesthetic that had a timeless quality. 

It prompted yet another reminder, that after World War Two when materials and manpower were in short supply, furniture and essential domestic products used minimal materials in a pared back design aesthetic which remains the hallmark of Scandinavian design.

Furniture with an exotic eastern vibe is styled with for a look to suit summer and winter (from HomeSense).
Furniture with an exotic eastern vibe is styled with for a look to suit summer and winter (from HomeSense).

With the launch this April of a new Irish furniture company, Moodlii (pronounced ‘mood-lee’), there’s a chance to tap into interior design which comes from that same making philosophy of northern Europe, Scandinavia in particular, and also places like Poland. 

Currently, Moodlii has one shop in Dublin with plans to open outlets in Cork and Belfast. The company is a trend-driven operation with an eye for good shapes in dining room and living room, backed up with accessories like cushions, candlesticks, light fittings, and lamps. 

Price-wise, it’s more expensive than Ikea, but not out of reach, like some other high-end, design-led brands.

One example of seating loveliness is the 366 chair, selling for €636, designed and made in Poland over 50 years ago by one Joseph Chierowski who, as a young designer back in the 1960s, approached the owners of a factory destroyed by fire, offering them his chair design as a simple-to-produce solution to keep their business going.

Accessories on offer from HomeSense feature on-trend green and yellow in table linens, glass and crockery.
Accessories on offer from HomeSense feature on-trend green and yellow in table linens, glass and crockery.

It’s what’s typically called an easy chair — easy to sit on, easy on the eye and easy to live with — thanks to a simple construction of comfortable upholstery and space saving wooden frame, drawing on mid-century modern inspiration, contemporised with modern fabric and styling.

Extendable tables, which start out being relatively compact, have flexibility to grow when necessary, and are in demand, as are two seater and two and a half seater sofas in place of the often domineering L-shapes which have been so popular of late.

One option is the Mark sofa (€1,610) designed by Scandinavian Anderson and Voll. It’s a 2.5 seater they came up with for the Comforty brand. With a name like that, who could resist having a sit down to see if it lives up to it’s storyline and provenance.

HomeSense offers outdoor furniture, including shabby chic iron patio sets and umbrellas, suitable for courtyards and small gardens.
HomeSense offers outdoor furniture, including shabby chic iron patio sets and umbrellas, suitable for courtyards and small gardens.

* Meanwhile, TK Maxx’s domesticated sister, HomeSense, opens its doors in Dublin on June 8 in Blanchardstown, and in Cork on June 15 at the newly-developed retail centre built on the Capitol Cinema site.

The shop expands on TK Maxx’s interiors section which, for the last 20 years has offered Irish shoppers branded kitchenware, soft furnishings, lamps, smaller furniture items like side tables and accessories, with the promise of easing stress on the wallet with up to 60% off the recommended retail price.

Expect to find more of this with the addition of large furniture — indoor and outdoor — in a space the size of a typical TK Maxx shop.

Happy shopping: As TK Maxx says on its website, you’ll find exactly what you weren’t looking for.


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