So practical

Did you know the Spanish invented the mop?

So practical

A humble masterpiece now spruced up with colour and little add-ons of handles and pans that make it fun and easy on the eye, if a little over designed.

But even this everyday item is an indication of how discerning we’ve become when purchasing for purely practical reasons. This has been helped by exposure to more choice, having more income — at least in the recent past and eyes trained by home decorating programmes, design publications and educated by travel.

This has bolstered an interest in buying art and bespoke, crafted design, although it can come at a cost. But for those with lesser incomes who can only dream of such a thing, high street shops have deployed the likes of Terence Conran, (M&S) and Ben de Lisi; Julien Mcdonald and John Rocha, (Debenhams), to design home interior ranges. So you can have the label you covet at nearer typical high street prices but perhaps missing out on the exclusivity factor.

Another option in between bespoke and the high street designer look is those Irish, English and European design houses churning out highly functional and beautiful products that sell in hundreds or thousands rather than hundreds of thousands, giving them a little more exclusivity.

My favourites are Moooi, Droog, Black & Blum, Eva Solo, Normann Copenhagen, Klickity, and Jenny Walsh Design, all of whom make those smaller, highly useful products embodying the definition of design: an object that is useful and beautiful, and for me something that makes me happy.

Dutch brand Moooi is designing everything from lighting and furniture to accessories. A range to pay special attention to is their blue and white ceramic work designed by Marcel Wanders. It’s a reinterpretation and revitalising of traditional Dutch ceramics decorated by Royal Delft, a company dating back to the 1600s and which was the original producer of Dutch delftware (sold at Minima and www.moooi.com).

Another Dutch offering is Droog with an extensive stable of everything from fly swatters to rugs and tableware. Their cognac glasses are a delight , designed without bases so they roll on their sides without spilling a drop, mimicking the hand action of swirling cognac around the glass, or even to play with during awkward silences at social events (€36 for two at www.droog.com)

If ever there was a brand that embodies streamlined chic for the table top it’s Denmark’s Eva Solo. Their coffee and tea carafes are fitted with snug zipped jackets looking notionally like a tightly corseted woman. They retail from €69.95 at www.evasolo.com.

Alessi, a name synonymous with Italian design is turning out luscious products since the 1930s, attracting design talent like Phillipe Starck who designed the Juicy Salif, a three-legged, triffid-like citrus juicer (€90 at www.alessi.ie); and the architect Michael Graves who designed a whimsical kettle with singing bird on the spout (€140). Many of their designs are now in the permanent collections of museums worldwide so with prices for design on the increase over time, you could start your own, practical collection at wallet friendly prices.

* Next week we’re taking a trip to France to meet an Irish design duo.

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