Avoca is a fabulous store in Ireland that sells all manner of great Irish products...but it was in the café where I found eye-catching design ideas, including the magnificent Mediterranean platter laid out on a vintage wooden cutting board like a work of art.
Just a bit about the history of the store, because it's one of those throw-it-all-in-and-do-something-completely-different stories that everyone loves. The story starts with an early 18th century mill in Avoca Village, County Wicklow. The mill was renowned for spinning and weaving vibrantly-coloured wool blankets throughout two and a half centuries.
In the 1960's, the mill closed its doors...until Donald and Hilary Pratt bought it in 1974. Donald was a Dublin lawyer who was handling the sale of the site for development. He and Hilary both left their jobs (she was a teacher) and bought the derelict mill, and, ultimately, not only restored it to its former glory, but created a fabulous brand.
The mill still produces gorgeous, colorful blankets and scarves, and the store also stocks everything from jewelry to jam in their eleven locations throughout Ireland.
Back to the noteworthy design moments...upstairs in the Dublin store is the café, where the décor is whimsical and clever. Old spoons are framed in shadow boxes backed with pages from vintage books.
The tables are stenciled in gold, with messages like, "Bon Appetit" and "Eat Well Feel Well." A great way to jazz up an old table.
Some of the tables also sported rudimentary brass plaques with statements befitting the venue.
Who needs artwork when empty vintage frames look so good grouped on a wall? Floral wallpaper, hung in strips of various patterns, peeks through the frames.
The door to the bathrooms is covered with layers of wallpaper, artfully peeled off in layers.
Shelves are separated by chair legs, and filled with silver teapots. If you group a lot of similar objects together, they look intriguing no matter what they are.
I can't stop myself from noticing design details everywhere...but it is, after all, tea time, and who can resist the crispy and chewy peanut butter rice cereal bar topped with velvety milk chocolate.
Time to put the blinders on and enjoy.
AVOCA STORE & CAFÉ
Kilmacanogue Store, Cafes & HQ, Wicklow
Suffolk Street, Dublin City Centre
Rathcoole, N7 Naas Road, Dublin
The Mill at Avoca Village, Wicklow
Letterfrack, Connemara, Co Galway
Moll's Gap on the Ring of Kerry
Powerscourt House, Enniskerry, Wicklow
Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, Wicklow
Avoca Food Market & Salt Café, Monkstown
Avoca at Brown Thomas Cork
Belfast City Centre