Irish Artist Marie Varley searches the country for the very best in Irish design to bring to you here on HeadStuff. This week Marie chats to Margaret O’Rourke of MoMuse Jewellery.
Margaret O’Rourke is the creative vision behind MoMuse Jewellery. Located in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, at the heart of Dublin’s Creative Quarter, the inviting store is a haven for Irish Design. As well as designing and creating her own range of jewellery in store she stocks a number of homegrown designers alongside talent from around the world. Her beautiful store is one of my favourite spots in Dublin and I was delighted to catch up with Margaret to find out more.
Can you tell me a little about your background/ how you became interested in jewellery design?
I decided to change career 10 years ago as my background was in advertising & sales. I was always creative as a child. My Dad was an amazing craftsman, brilliant with his hands and I was inspired by the amazing pieces he made. It took years for me to pick it up but I began travelling across Europe visiting Jewellery trade shows with my husband who is in the industry and that’s where MoMuse began.
How did your beautiful shop MoMuse come about?
We opened here in 2009, deep in the recession, as a cooperative of designers. We worked well together and grew slowly and organically. Since March 2014 I have taken over the store as my own. While my colleague Wendy, relocated to Temple Bar and opened her own store called Scout. It was a natural progression for both of us to go out on our own. It was initially my own collection of handmade pieces, which I have now expanded into 9kt fine gold jewellery. I now stock many talented homegrown designers, from cashmere scarves to leather accessories, greeting cards and, of course, jewellery.
What or who are your design inspirations?
Travel is probably one of the most inspiring for me as I visit many European cities with my favourite being Paris which continuously inspires me. I had the amazing experience of working for Chanel part-time while I was slowly building MoMuse. This inspired me with its stylish simplicity. Simple classic timeless pieces with a contemporary twist is how I describe my collection. I am a firm believer less is more and simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.
MoMuse has an other worldly feel to it. How would you describe the style of your shop
I have created a space which I believe is a relaxed and calm environment with no pressure to buy, The style & décor of the shop has a Parisien feel to it. I am continuously sourcing items for display in the shop on my travels. The eclectic nature of these pieces have combined to create an atmosphere that is inviting with something small and wonderful in every nook. I love the time spent chatting to customers and tourists which is part of the experience of visiting the shop.
Can you tell me a little about the Irish jewellery that you stock?
The ethos of the shop centers around independent and Irish designers. I try to find unique brands that other retailers aren’t stocking. Some of these have a personal connection for me. The beautiful alpaca and silk scarves I stock are woven in Mucros House, Killarney (where I’m from). My Dad worked with Mucros Weavers years ago, as a carpenter, fixing the looms there. That’s how I have the connection with them. Equally I try to support small Irish designers like stationery designer Stephanie Lennon of Leaf & Stitch and Aoife Hanrahan of Simple Things Giftcards. I am delighted to have my good friend Eilis Boyle’s beautiful collection of cashmere pieces. Eilis was part of Bow with myself and Wendy and we have a long history together. I developed an appreciation and love for craftsmanship after watching my dad work as a craftsman. I have sought out beautiful hand crafted items for my store because of this. Including Una Burke leather accessories. Una is an Irish designer who makes all of her pieces by hand in her London studio. I also stock homegrown brand Carveon, who hand craft artisanal leather accessories for men and women.
All of these products compliment and give life to the jewellery in the shop. I stock both my own range of gold filled jewellery and fine jewellery. I have a workspace in store, complete with an antique jewellery bench that I just adore. So many of the pieces are made in store. This allows for imagination and creativity to come into each season’s collection. As I dream up designs I work on ways to create them in the workspace. It really is a process that I enjoy and love. While my 9kt Gold Fine Jewellery Collection is really where I am looking to next. I am working on expanding that range this year.
I also stock a number of Irish jewellery designers. Merle O’Grady’s Swarovski collection is a favourite of regular customers. We recently started stocking ISLE jewellery, a contemporary collection created by two sisters – one based in Belfast and one in Tokyo. I have long stocked Natasha Sherling’s delicate collection of Fine Jewellery. Supporting these local Irish designers is important to me and I am always on the look out for up and coming talent. ?? How do you feel about Irish design? (I’m referring to the representation of Irish design, the network of people etc here)
How do you feel about Irish design?
I think the consumer is focused more than ever on buying Irish products that are produced locally. Be it local artisan jewellery, food or fashion we have so much to offer here in Ireland. The rising number of independent boutiques here in Dublin’s Creative Quarter, across the way in Cow’s Lane and all over the country is testament to the demand for local goods. Our tourism numbers are now bigger than ever which is now helping to get the country back on its feet again.
Have you got any exciting plans on the horizon?
As I mentioned earlier we are very excited about expanding our fine jewellery collection.
We are working with 9kt yellow and 9ct rose gold, 18ct white gold and platinum. One focus is developing our alternative engagement stacking rings. We source our diamonds (black, white and champagne) as well as our emeralds, sapphires and rubies directly from Antwerp. Many pieces of the collection are cast, made in Dublin and all are hallmarked here in Dublin’s historic Dublin Castle Assay Office. We have a lovely new 9kt gold initial range coming for A/W 2016. I am particularly excited about our new mintaure 9kt gold pineapple that will join the collection later this year also. We exhibited at Showcase this past January and have been expanding our wholesale market with great success. Our stockists now include Avoca (Suffolk St, Malahide, Kilmacanogue and Rathcoole), Kilkenny Design as well as many independent boutiques throughout Dublin and in Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny and Cork (the full list of stockists is available on our website). We have been pushing the development of our online presence also. When we launched the Hope pendant last September it was driven completely by social media and this has been something we have been putting a major focus on since.
All images courtesy of Momuse Jewellery
Facebook Page: MoMuse