Meet retailers helping us shop more sustainably for our homes

New experiences are popping up so we can buy more mindfully for our living spaces. We check out Cork's curiosity shops 
Meet retailers helping us shop more sustainably for our homes

Siobhan Brennan, director of craft and design retailer Origineire.

Who isn’t guilty of having bought a cheapish piece of furniture in a hurry which not long after fell apart and headed off to landfill?

Fast furniture, like fast food, gives an instant hit of satisfaction, providing an immediate solution to a seating problem or hunger pangs, but neither does us or the planet much good in the longer term.

New Year with its tradition of making resolutions is a good time to start buying better, either pre-loved or locally made. The latter, admittedly, will be more expensive than off the shelf, but you’ll get exactly what you want and something that might even last beyond a generation and is an item that can be repaired when necessary.

 Everything from large-scale historic furniture and art can be found at The Store Yard to add to a period home or to create a timeless look when mixed with contemporary pieces.
Everything from large-scale historic furniture and art can be found at The Store Yard to add to a period home or to create a timeless look when mixed with contemporary pieces.

To help strengthen our January resolve, some interesting retail outlets, from design spaces to curiosity shops, are springing up, with two new outlets in Cork worth checking out to indulge our inner home interiors nosey parker.

Fans of The Store Yard in Portlaoise who are always happy to make a detour on the road to Dublin to go interiors shopping know the eclectic mix of interior and architectural salvage you can pick up there.

 Baidin porcelain square handled cups (from €32), designed and made by Luke Sisk. Available at Origineire.
Baidin porcelain square handled cups (from €32), designed and made by Luke Sisk. Available at Origineire.

Now Corkonians and Waterfordians, and even those for whom the Cork coast is closer than Portlaoise, can get a taste of The Store Yard in its recently opened premises on North Main Street, Youghal, where these self-styled purveyors of curiosities might have you channelling your inner Oscar Wilde who once said, “I can resist everything but temptation.”

When I first chatted to owner David Keane some years ago, he summed up their offering, and the difficulty customers have resisting temptation, by telling me how a customer once came by for a Belfast sink and left with hat boxes from the 1920s and 1930s. He also spoke of doors and architraves in stock, sourced at Irish Georgian house sales, and fur coats being bought instead of practical door knockers.

 Small-scale curios, objet d'art, lamps and vintage china are just a number of interior accessories to be found at The Store Yard.
Small-scale curios, objet d'art, lamps and vintage china are just a number of interior accessories to be found at The Store Yard.

But if the contemporary look is more your thing, within walking distance of Cork City is Origineire which opened just before Christmas on Centre Park Road. Once an industrial area, in recent years it’s been attracting an arty set with pop up shops and regular markets.

Director Siobhan Brennan’s decision to open up shop in Cork was prompted by what she sees as a growing craft and design scene.

“There is such a richness and vibrancy in the work being created here that it sparked the idea of launching Origineire, because art, design and craft can have a place in everyone’s daily lives,” she says. “Why buy mass-produced products for our homes when we can have authentic works of art and natural, handcrafted homewares and furniture from Ireland?”

At its heart, Origineire is focused on contemporary Irish furniture and interiors, selling a handpicked selection of design and décor products created by both known and emerging designers and artists based in Ireland.

 The Lee Marvin credenza (from €3,680) and Tree shelves (from €2,240) by Fergal O'Leary of Horizon Furniture. Available at Origineire.
The Lee Marvin credenza (from €3,680) and Tree shelves (from €2,240) by Fergal O'Leary of Horizon Furniture. Available at Origineire.

Concerned about the environmental and social impact of over-production, consumption and the disposal of products, Origineire sells home goods that are expertly crafted by hand and made to last, so when you go for a browse expect to see furniture, art, ceramics and glassware.

For the time being, it’s appointment only, but Siobhan says, “Even last-minute appointments are welcome. Just phone or email and if we can fit you in, we will. We’re flexible in that we can schedule viewings during lunch breaks, after work or on weekends. Visitors are welcome to browse and ask questions, especially people that are just curious. There’s no obligation to purchase.”

While sustainable products tend to be more expensive, they’re a long-term saving and designed for longevity using good quality materials to provide durability and enabling maintenance and repair if necessary. It means they last longer so you can buy less often.

To give customers a steer about how to buy in a sustainable way, Siobhan, says, “Ask what’s it made from, seek out natural materials like wood, glass, metal, and avoid exotic timber no matter how eco-friendly it is claiming to be. It still has to travel around the world to get to you.”

Something we may not have questioned and which Siobhan also highlights is, “Many retailers sell products under the Designed in Ireland brand, but the products are made on the other side of the world, so always check the label.”

www.https://www.facebook.com/origineire 

www.https://www.instagram.com/thestoreyard/

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