In Temple Bar, nestled in a modern, environmentally-friendly building, is The Design House – a thriving hub of creativity.
The Design House was founded by Irish fashion designer, Bebhinn Flood. It’s the creative home to several in-house designers. With design and retail under the one roof, it’s like buying straight from the studios.
I needed machines and retail all in the same place.
The walls host a gallery of art. Over 60 designers, mostly Irish, sell their creations here. There’s cutting-edge fashion, jewellery, bridal, vintage and a variety of crafts. Not to mention the in-house café and authentic churro takeaway. Then, there’s the classes on offer too – and the in-house seamstress who can make alterations, offering a bespoke service to everyone who walks through the door.
This unique retail experience has it all, bringing creative authenticity to Dublin’s Temple Bar. To find out more, Dublin.ie spoke to Bebhinn Flood. She discusses Dublin’s fashion scene and how The Design House came about.
In conversation with Bebhinn Flood
I was managing the Loft in Powerscourt Townhouse for 7 or 8 years. I had two rails and people kept asking me: ‘Oh, can I get another version of this made?’ or wanting to get things altered.
I was driving back and forth from my studio in Greystones everyday, sometimes twice. It was just crazy. I needed machines and retail all in the same place. I noticed there were two niches in the market. The designers needed somewhere where they could sell from and somewhere they could work from.
I always wanted a building like Galeries Lafayette in Paris.
So that’s why we have the studios upstairs and retail downstairs. I don’t think there was anywhere else in Dublin like this, not when I first set up anyway.
We have a mix of everything: fashion, millinery, arts, crafts, jewellery. We probably have over 60 designers – the majority of whom are Irish. The leathers are from Italy – and there’s some Italian jewellery. We’re more than happy to take designers that are not Irish. We have over 14 artists here too.
A lot of the stuff that is sold here is made here, but a lot of the designers have their own studios too. Working in the building we have a media company, a scarf designer, milliners, tailors, event managers, swimwear designers… the list goes on.
Was it a scary decision to open The Design House?
Every day, I say: ‘Jesus, did I bite off more than I can chew?’ The day I signed the lease on [our first] building, I gave birth to my son. It definitely was a lot to take on. I had received a grant and it had to be used by a certain time. Within that time, I found out I was pregnant.
There was a lot of machinery that took a lot of manpower to move! But I always wanted a building like Galeries Lafayette in Paris. I wanted it to have food areas throughout the building, so you could take a break, shop before and after.
The demand for Irish Design
We have a good mix of consumers. Some really good, loyal people come in and support us.
We don’t force the whole ‘made in Ireland thing’, but the majority [of products] are made on the premises. Tourists love to hear that, but sometimes if you force the whole ‘made in Ireland thing’ people can be a bit: ‘Ah, whatever’.
Bebhinn’s in-house studio
I’m a fashion designer – occasion, bridal, a bit of everything. I do consultations here too.
Yesterday, I did a bridal consultation. I designed like three different dresses for the bride. People love to be able to get exactly what they are looking for. Women will come in and explain what they want and I squiggle what they are saying and start creating dresses.
Sometimes, they want to cover their arms up or have a high neckline. It’s great that they can get exactly what they want.
Dublin’s fashion scene is there, but it doesn’t get enough backing for it to be bigger. In fairness, Dublin Town and Dublin City Council do as much as they can for the Dublin Fashion Festival.
There is amazing talent in Ireland, and it gets a little lost sometimes, unfortunately.
However, someone needs to get behind the younger designers, the up-and-coming, to help them a bit. There is amazing talent in Ireland, and it gets a little lost sometimes, unfortunately.
That’s one of the reasons we are doing this and trying to help them. We also do workshops here. We have courses where people can learn how to make a skirt, a dress, a blouse. It is aimed at beginners.
We do cool, little afternoon tea ones. They are three hours long. You can make a headpiece or jewellery and get some cakes and wine from the café. Have a few creative glasses of wine and make a masterpiece! They’re brilliant for hen parties and gatherings.
To view its products or find out more, visit The Design House website.