The IDH, Irish Design House was established by fashion designer Sinéad Clarke and her husband Benny Corrigan in 2014.
Sinéad and Benny moved to Canada late in 2013 on a twoyear visa to explore the country and make some memories. When they arrived in Toronto, Sinéad I found a studio space in the east end of the city where her shipping container with her entire supply of sewing machines, fabrics and textiles was due to arrive. As the months went by, Sinéad discovered that the craft and handmade scene that she had been so immersed in while working and living in Ireland was not so evident in Toronto. A brainwave hit and the couple opened the IDH eight months later.
The initial concept for Irish Design House was to have a pop-up store that could last 6-12 months selling Sinéad’s fashion and knitwear creations as well as 12 designers from Ireland who she had made connections with during her time as a designer as well as her involvement with showcase Ireland and the National Crafts Council.
They opened in September 2013, and it soon became clear that the store was their new love and Toronto was where they wanted to be. Sinéad and Benny became Canadian residents when their initial visa expired and they began importing more Irish designer-makers. Now, in 2020 they are into their sixth year. They import Irish artisan products from over eighty designers and Sinéad has opened a sewing school and studio at the store where she continues to design and manufacture her clothing line called FADA, as well as teaching private workshops in sewing and pattern drafting. FADA is sold at the IDH along with t-shirts designed by Benny who is a graphic designer with a small firm in the same neighborhood as the store.
They now have an online store and can ship worldwide with social media platforms allowing them to showcase the store and handmade goods to followers. “We are now Canadian citizens and travel to Ireland twice a year to spend time with our families and visit suppliers for the store,” Sinéad says. “The products we buy range from woolen blankets from Donegal, ceramics from Dublin, Dundalk and Drogheda, knitwear, jigsaw puzzles, handmade notebooks, leather and traditional jewelry, linen shirts, tweed caps, candles and homewares, and so many more stunning hand-crafted items. We support the small designer-maker as well as the more established brands. Our initial love travel brought us to Canada, and my love of Irish design and heritage has given me the drive to do what I’ve always had such a grà for.”