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Bonus: Most of them also serve a stellar cup of coffee.
With rambling green fields, ancient stone walls, and a higher population of sheep than people, Ireland might not seem like a haven for cutting-edge design. But, particularly in its cobblestoned cities, the country is undergoing a style revolution. Here are four of the best design shops to hit in Dublin—plus one paving the way in Galway.
Coffeewerk + Press, Galway
Stop by this bright ground-floor coffee shop in the western port of Galway for some of the city’s best coffee and tea, then follow the winding wooden staircase to two sparse rooms of beautiful design. The second floor houses artful utilitarian objects (brushes, scissors, cups) while the third floor is a quiet gallery, complete with fireplace, above the bustle of Quay Street. Pick up a few postcards of local artists’ work if you're tight on room in your suitcase.
Industry & Co, Dublin
Brother and sister Marcus and Vanessa Mac Innes’ shop on Drury Street—named the Best Gifts, Design and Interiors Shop 2015 by The Irish Times—highlights excellent products from throughout Europe. Look for revamped industrial-style lamps and Irish woolen blankets and, in the cafe, local Wall & Keogh tea (also available by the bag) and healthy Middle Eastern-inflected food.
Irish Design Shop, Dublin
Everything in this tiny shop, owned by jewelry makers Clare Grennan and Laura Caffrey, is made in Ireland. Hand-carved wooden coffee scoops from Galway, Clarkes of Dublin shaving soap (made with beeswax from County Meath and seaweed from Donegal), and geometric brass earrings by Grennan and Caffrey’s newly-launched jewelry line, Names, make ideal straight-from-Ireland souvenirs.
After working in the New York fashion world, designer Helen James returned to Ireland to marry her love of style with her love of cooking. James stocks her new Dublin shop (which feels like stepping into the designer’s own open kitchen) with her own line of stylish kitchen tools, persimmon-colored tablecloths, ceramics, and root ginger-scented candles. The jams and chocolates are made in Ireland, and the café serves excellent pastries.
Inside Dublin’s historic Powerscourt Centre market is this trove of tableware and stationary. Browse the shelves of ceramic and metal vases or pick up an illustrated print of Dublin’s famous Georgian doorways. There’s no coffee shop inside, but just across the Powerscourt atrium is The Pepper Pot, where a towering slice of Victoria sponge cake, layered with jam and cream, is a must after a day of shopping.