At Showcase there is a particular emphasis on new and exciting products - providing retailers with the opportunity to discover emerging trends and product ranges from some of Ireland’s most creative and innovative brands. Each year a panel of retail and design experts awards innovation and quality of design at Showcase.
The Showcase 2018 Overall Winner in the Home category, for their woollen cushions, was Foxford Woollen Mills. This well-renowned and well-loved heritage brand offers a beautiful range of contemporary homewares and soft furnishings to the modern consumer.
Established in 1892 on the banks of the River Moy in Co. Mayo by the Irish Sisters of Charity, this Irish-owned mill has been dedicated to designing, weaving and distributing the finest of woollen products globally for generations.
The company now produces a modern range of items for the home including throws, rugs and blankets and an accessories range which includes scarves in luxurious lambswool, merino, mohair and cashmere yarns.
For 2018, the designer at Foxford Woollen Mills, Helen McAlinden, has produced a new collection which is inspired by global crafts and which embraces natural tones including pale caramel, tan, black and orange.
Highly commended in the Home category, also, was design practice Elements of Action for its Framed Mirror and glass makers J. HILL’s Standard from the home of Irish glass-making, Co. Waterford, for its Decorative Lamp.
The Showcase Best Product Award in the Gift category went to Ballyshane. Founded by duo William McHutcheon and Cheryl Stanley and based in the stunning 19th Century house Duckett’s Grove in Co. Carlow, Ballyshane create unique wooden pieces such as serving and chopping boards. Predominantly working with native hardwoods, often reclaimed, including Irish beech and sycamore, these are objects of practical beauty which show a real love of both material and craft.
Highly Commended Awards in the Gift category went to Alanna Plekkenpol from Bray, Co. Wicklow for her Decorative Tiles and to Caulfield Country Boards from Kells, Co. Meath for its Wooden Egg Cups.
The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s Innovation and Craftsmanship Award, which promotes innovative and creative development in craft, was won this year by Benefield Spencer Glass.
Founded by internationally renowned craftspeople and glass artists Scott Benefield and Andrea Spencer as BTU Studio in 2011, the pair maintain a full-featured glass studio, producing an annual production line of hand-blown glass, as well as architectural glass commissions and unique pieces for galleries.
A Highly Commended Award in 2018’s Gift category went to Mourne Textiles from Newry in Co. Down which was established in the 1950s and created fabrics for Hille and Conran as well as for renowned Irish fashion designer Sybil Connolly, helping place Ireland on the international fashion map from the 1950s onwards.
“Since this annual trade show was founded 42 years ago, the continued growth and development of Showcase indicates that there is a strong desire from buyers both in Ireland and internationally to discover and access high-quality Irish designed and crafted products,” said Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland.
“Our annual Showcase awards programme not only shines a light on the excellent craftsmanship, design and presentation of the makers’ work but also highlights the importance of encouraging new product development, allowing buyers to see the very latest innovations from Irish designers and craftspeople at the fair. ”