Work / Product Design

Irish Makers & Brothers redefine what a souvenir is in their latest project

When you think of souvenirs, garish ornaments, neon sticks of rock and sun-faded tea towels immediately spring to mind. But Irish company Maker & Brothers are hoping to change this by curating a new collection of objects that “explore local context and question what a souvenir might be.” Commissioned by Irish Design 2015 (ID2015) and Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, the project was partly inspired by a letter Jonathan Legge, creative director at Maker & Brothers found in The Irish Farmer’s Journal in 1973. “In it a ‘disgusted teenager’ complains about a souvenir she bought for a friend in Ireland that turned out was made in Japan,” Jonathan explains.

“The project looks to frame a conversation on what an Irish souvenir might be today,” he says. “But beyond that it is about building relationships between designers and makers and encouraging them to look beyond their fields of exploration.” Pairing Irish creatives with traditional Irish crafts, the collection was launched at London Design Festival last week and the video above goes into the craft behind the finished products. Made up of nine contemporary objects, the collection includes an ancient Irish board game, a clay honey pot and stone wall patterns. The project goes beyond simply making nice things for the sake of it, but actually challenges what we think of as a souvenir. “The term souvenir… is literally about memory and recollection,” says Jonathan. These objects are individual, hand-crafted and well-considered, and signify a step away from the “veil of commercialisation drawn over [souvenirs].”

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Makers & Brothers: Rainbow plate, designed by Jonny Kelly, made by Nicholas Mosse

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Makers & Brothers: ibi, designed by Cathal O’Connor and Peter Sheehan

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Makers & Brothers: Lumper, designed by Makers & Brothers, made by Bronze Art Foundry

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Makers & Brothers: Brandub, designed by Tom de Paor

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Makers & Brothers: Naming Rain Pattern, designed by Studio AAD, made by J Hill