Word from the Director
3 March 2022
After an uncertain two years, Showcase, the premier Irish craft and design retail fair, was back in Dublin’s RDS. Irish makers and design businesses were able to reconnect with American and European buyers, as well as retailers and shops on the island.
Kilkenny Design CEO Evelyn Moynihan gave her analysis of the impact of the last two years on retailers and her predictions for the trends ahead.
Much discussed has been the impact of working from home on our choices of what to buy – a focus on homewares, accessories and comfortable clothes. While this might gradually revert to a pre-pandemic pattern, the likely future of hybrid working – some at home, some office – means that craft and design buyers still have this focus. And what better way to show that you support local businesses, than to have a piece of local craft on the bookcase behind you for your zoom meetings.
The pandemic has prompted many retailers and makers to prioritise online selling. Her advice was that this will continue, but that retailers and makers needed to ensure that however a craft lover makes a purchase – online, at a fair or in store – the experience should be consistent, customer-focused and satisfying.
The American and GB perspectives on the panel agreed, and while online and zoom has been important during covid, shows and fairs remained important for buyers to see and feel the work – “sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until you see it” remarked one buyer.
Advice for designers and makers in the period ahead from the panel? Buying local remains a key driver with customers increasingly wanting more information about sustainability and sourcing of products and materials. In addition, all three panellists felt that there was in increased interest in buying things made to last. Lastly, buyers were keen to see the work in real life rather than aways virtually, but are reassured by a solid online presence behind the pieces.
– Katherine McDonald, Director of Craft NI