We continue our Creative Collaborations series this week, with one of our new projects for 2020, a project we have been working on since the very early days of Breac.House. It brings together three amazing local makers to create what we now call the Breac.House Rituals Box.
Our vision has always been to have everything that guests touch, see, taste and experience should come from Donegal as far as possible and then the very best of Irish. We believe in traditional skills, natural materials, functional products made with care and love by those committed to living and working in our community. A key part of a stay with us is the simple rituals, be that the pleasure of a great shower, a soak in a seaweed bath or easing the muscles in our outdoor wood fired sauna. We wanted the core elements of these rituals to connect guests to Donegal. Since the early days we have used beautiful handmade natural soap created by Isobel Sangha rom the Donegal Natural Soap Company as part of our offering but we always wanted to take this a step further and do something really special, sustainable and bespoke for our guests. So last year, we sat down with Isobel to develop a series of bespoke toiletries that are handmade and organic. The range features hand foraged Donegal seaweed and Dunfanaghy goats milk as its core ingredients combined with high performance organic oils and butters and gentle essential oils. The range comprises Donegal organic 3 seaweed soap, a shampoo bar made from organic nettle and goats milk and an intensively moisturising lotion bar made with mineral rich restorative Donegal kelp. These three products combine into a soothing ritual of cleanse, shampoo and moisturise with maximum benefits and zero plastic.
Once we had our beautiful products, we needed something equally beautiful as their home in our guest bathrooms. We had previously worked with Ciaran McGill, The Veneerist, on a range of wooden beakers for the bathrooms. These beakers were all about trying to bring a bit of love and character back to everyday, often ignored, objects. There is probably no more ordinary item that the tootbrush holder.
Ciaran’s workshop is located on his family’s farm at the foot of the Bluestack mountains in the Irish speaking town of Baile na Finne (Fintown), Co.Donegal. It’s location as one of the more remote but picturesque villages in Co. Donegal is a perfect backdrop for Ciaran’s work – which is both very simple /geometric in its design yet very complex in it’s execution.
We worked with Ciaran to create the beautiful box that is now home to Isobel's bespoke range of products for guests to experience - plus a few little items which we often forget when we head away for a little break. The box is expertly handmade from oak and stained black to match the black larch exterior of Breac.House and the black specked terrazzo of the wet room areas in which the guest rituals will take place - and to provide a stark contrast to the natural oak used throughout the interior of the house. The delicate inlay of the logo gives a clue to Ciaran's special skill.
This was a slightly unusual commission for Ciaran. A furniture maker and graduate of both GMIT Letterfrack and London Metropolitan Universiry, Ciaran specilaises in marquetry, which involves the intricate cutting and assembly of wood veneer to create decorative panels for furniture. The possibilities for his very specialist work are endless with everything from beautiful table tops, chess sets, boxes and maps among recent commissions – most of which are for discerncing international clients who appreciate the rare skill which Ciaran has. He continues to push the boundaries of our perception of furniture makers with a recent commission for a fascinator created from sycamore and walnut and a beautiful coffee table with the detailed marquetry top inspired with the legendary Jaguar e-type. For more on Ciaran's mazing work, see The Veneerist
And finally to complete the project, we wanted some bespoke print work both for the products themselves and for the ritual card that would guide our guests through the daily ritual and explain all of the elements of the individual products. For this we were delighted to work with Laura Buchanan on a range of bespoke packaging that reflects the simple, natural nature of the products. As well as doing bespoke print work, Laura runs a design workshop in her hometown of Ramelton, adjacent to her old family shop. There, Laura runs workshops and creating her beautiful limited edition prints. During lockdown, Laura turned her hand to creating a set of fun lino prints reminding us all to Breathe, Bake, Cook and generally be grateful for the small things. We have also worked recently with Laura on some bespoke signage for our reopening - again adding a little whimsy to what will be a new ritual for the foreseeable future - hand sanitising. For further detail on Laura's work see her website Laura Buchanan Limited Edition
So there we have it, The Breac.House Rituals Box, our little dream project brought to life by Isobel, Ciaran and Laura - now that's collaboration Donegal-style.