Inspired by artist-founder Olivia Bishop’s community art residency in Cairo, Irth Designs is a range of beautiful homewares, gifts and accessories lovingly sourced from Egypt and other places close to her heart.
The Arabic word Irth means ‘inheritance’ or ‘transfer of possessions’ – representing the idea that beautiful, well-made objects will be treasured and passed on to others for their enjoyment.
Olivia grew up in a house full of interesting objects inherited from her ancestors – in particular many beautiful handmade things from Egypt, where her paternal grandparents had lived in the 1940s. Inspired to visit Egypt, in 2014 Olivia travelled to Cairo to do a community-focused artist residency, which culminated in a solo exhibition called Irth. While in Cairo and during her travels to South Sinai, Olivia loved meeting the Egyptian and Bedouin maker-stallholders in the local markets and exploring the vibrant little shops full of treasures. She started to put together a collection of interesting handmade objects and textiles rarely seen back home in the UK, to decorate her rather spartan art studio and the collecting (& travelling!) has continued since then.
Irth Designs stocks many objects hand-selected by Olivia on her travels in Egypt, Morocco, Italy and of course the UK: handmade and unusual jewellery, homewares, textiles and accessories – bright, decorative pieces that make the perfect counterpoint to her love of elegant Italian and Northern European design.
She also works with artists closer to her Hastings home, to curate a range of locally designed cards, prints and stationery.
Olivia has often met and bought products directly from the makers, ensuring excellent fairtrade conditions where possible – and where she is unable to visit suppliers in person, she carefully chooses products from companies who share a similar ethos.
Irth Designs opened its store in June 2018 in George Street, a beautiful pedestrian street in the heart of Hastings Old Town on the South East coast of England.