A Design Lover's Guide to Dublin

Apartment Therapy's Design Destination Guide

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Dublin, with its glass-faced modern buildings soaring above cobblestone streets and ancient alleys is an interesting place to explore. It also has quite the design community and in recent years boutiques and designers have found creative ways to make their way in the modern economy. 

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See:

  • Irish Film Institute: Even if you're not in the mood for a film, the Irish Film Institute is a great place to visit, even if it's just to grab a quick lunch and enjoy the architecture. 

  • UrbanFarm: The rooftop and indoor hydroponic spaces under construction at The Chocolate Factory are for, you guessed it, urban farming and associated workshops. While visiting UrbanFarm, do make sure to check out what The Chocolate Factory has going on, as it has become quite the creative hub.

  • Irish Museum of Modern Art: Fans of modern art would be remiss to visit Dublin and not see the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

  • Bord Gáis Energy Theatre & Grand Canal Commerical Development: Stroll here to take a gander at the beautiful theatre designed by architect Daniel Libeskind.

  • Debbie Paul Studio & Gallery: Highly recommended by an art-loving Dublin resident, Debbie Paul is a jewellery designer who works primarily in silver, using nature as a reference.   

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Tour:

  • Historical Walking Tour of Dublin: Dublin is a city with a rich history, and one of the best ways to learn more about that history is through a historical walking tour given by history graduates.

  • Trinity Tour: There are a few options for a tour of Trinity College, so be sure to go on one that includes a tour of the Old Library and the Book of Kells.

  • Colin Eaton Design Tour: These bespoke design tours are given by local architect Colin Eaton and revolve around architecture old and new, as well as boutique interior shopping. Full disclosure: I took this tour and loved it.

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Shop:

  • Designist: A great spot for gifts and home accessories. During my trip I picked up something for almost everyone on my list in this one shop. Of course, lots of Irish design items abound on the shelves as well.  

  • Irish Design Shop: Looking for a gift of Irish craft and design? Look no further than the Irish Design Shop, which sells many beautifully crafted items in a variety of price points.

  • Cows Lane Designer Studio: For even more handmade Irish art and design, the Cows Lane Designer Studio really is a treasure trove, run by a group of independent artists. 

  • Platform: This vintage clothing shop (women) also stocks jewelry designed and made by the owner, Aisling Wallace.

  • Minima.ie: Located in the revitalised and trendy Docklands neighborhood, this shop sells high-end designer furniture.

  • Article: Owned by John Adams, former manager at Terence Conran's Habitat, this shop stocks small design items.

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Eat:

  • Coppinger Row: With simple Mediterranean food, a laid back atmosphere, and a great location, it's easy to see why this was one of the first restaurants my Irish friends took me to during my visit.  

  • l'Gueuleton: One of my Dublin dwelling friend's favorite spots in the city, this French bistro is located right in the city center.

  • Rustic Stone: Celebrates local, seasonal cuisine and is great place for health conscious omnivores and vegetarians alike. 

  • Johnnie Fox's: Johnnie Fox's has traditional Irish music every night, so it's no surprise that locals pointed to this pub as as great example of a traditional Irish pub, albeit one that can get quite crowded with tourists. 

  • CrackBIRD: This restaurant serves up American style fried chicken which locals call "crazy addicting," which seems fitting considering its name.

  • Bear: From the same team behind the aforementioned CrackBIRD, Bear is all about the steak. 

  • Kaph: This specialty coffee shop just opened a few weeks ago, and Dublin dwelling friends are raving not only about the coffee but the cool, stark interior. 

  • Coffee Angel: With a minimalist plywood interior, this coffee shop is another favorite among the Dublin design + coffee loving set. 

  • Tamp & Stitch: In addition to this being a spot to enjoy some Has Bean beans, Tamp & Stitch also sells clothing and puts on some interesting photography exhibitions.  

  • Brother Hubbard: This cafe not only has top rate coffee and fantastic food, but locals claim it's probably also home to Dublin's only outdoor truly non-smoking courtyard.

  • Ubode: This cafe serves up tea and coffee as well as small items for the kitchen. 

  • Beer House: This newly opened (a little over a month old) bar sells craft beers at night and coffee during the day. 

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Stay:

  • Designer House: During my trip to Dublin, I rented a room (you can also rent the whole house) from Sarah, the lovely person with the bright and lovely home profiled in this House Tour

  • Number 31: Boutique guesthouse accommodations inside of a classical Georgian townhouse that has elegant modern touches. 

  • The Shelbourne: This 5 star luxury hotel overlooks St. Stephen's Green and was recently restored in 2007. 

  • La Stampa: Another hotel located in the city center, La Stampa is a boutique property with a decidedly Eastern design inspiration. 

  • The Clarence: This 4 star boutique hotel is located on the River Liffey and is the home of the famous Octagon Bar. 

  • The Marker Hotel: This Aires Mateus hotel opened in May and has a fantastic roof terrace that serves Dublin native recommended cocktails. 

Huge thanks to Colin & Sarah for their hospitality and Dublin expertise!

Please help us out and add to the guide in the comments — what are your recommendations for Dublin?

(Images: Joelle Alcaidinho)

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Joelle loves technology and making things and is in an almost perpetual state of problem solving. She's quite fond of airplanes and coffee and is pretty sure she will eventually read all of the books in her library.