Inspiration

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Down the Market

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Posted by stephen under Inspiration

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This was another case where something caught my eye. There is a new breed of businesses that have been set up post credit crunch and have had to get up and running with a minimum of outlay. When it comes to design, this can be a good thing. Old fashioned resourcefulness is set to make a bit of a comeback I think, and when it is combined with a little creativity the results can be really fantastic. This fruit and veg shop on Mary’s Abbey just beside the Fruit Markets is a brilliant example of this. Housed in a set of old banana ripening rooms where the owner worked as a young fella, it shows just what can be achieved using very limited means if you apply a little bit of inventive thought. Here the main things that I like are the use of pallets and graffiti as display units and signage. The whole area around here is covered in both pallets and graffiti, so this job was definitely done using locally available materials. The signage was done by a mate of the owner – one who had a history of decorating buildings without being asked… And it seems that graffiti itself is graffiti-proof - the local lads don’t touch it even when they are tagging all the walls around.  As for the pallets they create a solid little space in the old loading bay, and something about them just feels right. This kind of attitude is also in evidence inside, where the owner’s pride and joy (as he was quick to tell me) is the banana ladder. Sums up the “theme” of the place, if you could call it that – resourceful re-use.

 

Early House

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Posted by stephen under Inspiration

  The Bernard Shaw, on South Richmond St, surrounded as it is by dereliction and self-inflicted graffiti, tends to attract your attention from time to time. A cool looking place, I can't claim to have been in it too many times, but passing it a while back I noticed a different kind of change going on, one that did entice me through the door. In these recession busting times, it's always somehow uplifting to see someone do something clever and inventive, especially if that thing also comes with coffee. In this case the thing that caught my notice was a small change to one of the windows. In a nutshell, it was open. Some graffiti of a different order announced that I could walk up to it and get a coffee. A little shelf had milk and sugar on it. I went in and it turned out that there was a fully functioning Italian cafe running behind the bar. The clever thing about this of course is that two separate enterprises are successfully coexisting in the same space. The cafe runs in the morning until around 3pm, and then the pint glasses are dusted off for the bar to take over until the small hours. When you pass by during cafe hours it just looks right. A part of this is location - the big windows are belted with sunlight all during the late morning and early afternoon. It means you can see right in as you pass by, and sit in the sun indoors, a very effective form of enticement. The rest is down to a very inventive attitude - lots of small (cheap) moves that let you know what's going on, and make it seem like a good idea to stop and refuel. Some photos below should give you an idea of how it's done. The coffee, by the way, is Sicilian, and is very very good. 

  

a little goes a long way

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Posted by stephen under Inspiration

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I was flicking through a back issue of the Architectural Association of Ireland’s annual awards (as you do) when I came across this little gem designed by Noel J Brady. A well crafted and modern (but not showily “perfect”) little box creates a distinct space for reading and, I think, writing, at the border between an original room and an underused portion of the back garden, in a terraced house on South Circular Road.

Tales of the Unexpected

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Posted by stephen under Inspiration

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A search for a book on gardening and horticulture brought me to the Rathgar Bookshop. I had heard that they did a good line in gardening books, and the potted plants outside reinforced this impression, but not so much as the sheltered, peaceful and wholly surprising garden out the back. I took my newly purchased book and a coffee and sat under the trees in dappled sunlight, together with some other browsers who were in the know. And I got the feeling that sipping tea and coffee in the sun was a large part of the draw of the place. Now it’s not that Rathgar is a heaving metropolis, but it is a busy junction, and the contrast between the front and back of the bookshop is striking. The garden, in some form or other, must have been already there, but most people would probably not have seen that it had as much potential as a key part of the shop. And it didn’t really require all that much – a decked area, some new plants around the edges, furniture and a little sign. There’s no stone, no “water features”, nothing superfluous. Even from the back of the bookshop it’s not obvious that the garden is there – which all adds to its “secret garden” charm.

Mayfield

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Posted by stephen under Inspiration

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This is the first of (hopefully) a series of blog posts on interesting and successful small spaces. In a row of shops between Terenure and Harold's Cross, this cafe / deli / eatery is a re-use of an old butcher's shop. What struck me, apart from the fact that it seems permanently full, is how well the traces of previous use have been preserved and used to provide "ready-made" character. You can't reproduce authenticity - but you can use somebody else's... Rails for hanging meat, a walk-in fridge that looks like it's from the thirties, and beautiful old tiles all provide a setting for the new use. The owners seemed to know instinctively what to leave alone. This includes the old facade, which makes for an incredibly bright and glare-free interior. Many old shops are being re-used for new purposes, but few so sensitively preserve the legacy of old-fashioned commerce they inherit. And the food is great!

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