Carol O’Callaghan checks out some of the good online retailers who specialise in products with strong designs credentials and at wallet-friendly prices.

The process of online shopping has become even easier as we migrate from computers to smart phones and tablets, to shop wherever and whenever. 

The level of choice is increasing too, as more retailers opt to sell online, and it can mean savings for the customer when a brand doesn’t have to pass on overheads for running an actual shop.

Ireland has some excellent online retailers but with more overseas brands shipping internationally, there’s even greater choice. 

For things you won’t necessarily find on the high street, there are some really good online retailers specialising in products with strong design credentials but at wallet friendly prices.

A word of caution though:

There’s a glut of replica furniture out there drawing on designs by imminent designers of the 20th century, so don’t get a surprise if you find that what you’re buying isn’t the real thing, and do check out the quality if you decide to proceed.

Zinzan

This 100% Irish furniture company has well-made quirky and eye-catching tables, chairs, stools and occasional furniture based on designs from Mid-Century Modern stalwarts like Ray and Charles Eames and Arne Jacobsen. 

Being local, shipping costs won’t break the bank.

The Elise bar stool comes in original galvanised metal and a variety of colours like bright red and zingy yellow (€75 from Zinzan).
The Elise bar stool comes in original galvanised metal and a variety of colours like bright red and zingy yellow (€75 from Zinzan).

Favourite buy:

The Elise metal bar stool with industrial styling that cites the 1934 Tolix design by Xavier Pauchard. 

It was distributed by breweries to restaurants and bars in return for stocking their beers and remains a timeless favourite for retro lovers (€75).

www.zinzan.ie 

Makers & Brothers

Tradition meets modernity here with Irish products that combine traditional, making skills with a modern vernacular. 

Expect to find affordable smaller furniture pieces and home accessories from well established and up-and-coming makers, among them ceramicists like Arran Street East and Silo Studio, Glass by BTU Studio and textiles by Cushendale.

Affordable hand-crafted furniture and accessories like James Carroll’s Tiny stools (€75) are available from Makers & Brothers
Affordable hand-crafted furniture and accessories like James Carroll’s Tiny stools (€75) are available from Makers & Brothers

Favourite buy:

James Carroll’s ability to bring out the best in raw materials maintains the natural aesthetic of the wood in his Tiny stools (€75).

www.makersandbrothers.com 

C A Design

Home accessories from space-age coat hooks to cow hide rugs are on offer, along with furniture described as ‘inspired by’ the likes of Eileen Gray, Hans Wegner and Mies Van Der Rohe. 

It’s all well made and while on the higher end of the price spectrum, is well priced for the quality on offer.

Favourite buy:

Eero Saarinen’s Womb chair offers style and comfort while being compact and suitable for a smaller home where space-hogging armchairs won’t work (€1,500 for chair and stool).

Made.com

If furniture was edible www.Made.com ’s selection would be yummy, so salivate over a huge range of modern, designed pieces for every room in the home. 

New work includes Bauhaus-style textiles drawing on the work of Anni Elbers, and a range called New Nordic which moves on from the typical Scandinavian look which has dominated interiors recently. 

Watch out for prices in pounds sterling though.

Favourite buy:

Try the tasty Wes three-seater sofa in a shade somewhere between petrol and teal (£999) and sample a few Elbert cushions for a pop of colour (£12).

Mini Moderns

For fabrics, cushions, rugs, ceramics and wallpapers with originality, check out this range where it’s all about pattern. 

Making items to original designs, the brand has a particular look that draws on retro influences but is completely up to date.

Home accessories made to original designs include enamelware (£19.95 for a butter dish) from Mini Moderns
Home accessories made to original designs include enamelware (£19.95 for a butter dish) from Mini Moderns

Favourite buy:

It’s got to be the enamelware which has novelty at its heart. 

The latest range features naive style nautical scenes bedecking the surfaces of kettles, jugs, butter dishes and storage canisters (£19.95 for a butter dish).

www.minimoderns.com 

Tips

* Online shopping is fun, no question, but it’s easy to send your credit card into overdrive when sitting comfortably in front of a screen. 

Save yourself regret by carefully checking the currency in which you’re buying — at the moment you’ll find the exchange rate between euro and sterling to be particularly cruel, which could cancel out any savings you may make. 

So, even though a site may advertise that it delivers to Ireland, and is enthusiastically promoting itself to Irish shoppers, you may not see the financial damage until your purchase price and delivery charges have been converted to euro. 

Do read a website’s returns policy and any charges you’re likely to incur — assess the size of something in a photograph online and how it will fit your space. 

Colour can be an issue too, as shades may vary from the photo to what it is in reality.

Next week: Typography in art and accessories.


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