Our homes have meant more to us in the past couple of years than ever before. Now that the future looks a little brighter, it’s a good opportunity to take stock of our homes and whether they show off what we truly love.
So where to go for a dose of inspiration? You probably wouldn’t have thought of dipping into a children’s bookshop to spruce up your living quarters, but Drury Street’s Tales for Tadpoles could change your mind. Tales for Tadpoles sells books, prints, gifts and kitchen-and-homewares inspired by the best in picture books and children’s illustration. They have as much love for contemporary and local illustrators as they do for iconic classics like Winnie-the-Pooh and Peter Rabbit. Both adults and children are enthusiastic repeat customers.
Image: Winnie the Pooh print
Among the most popular choices for people looking to add warmth to their homes is their range of Winnie-the-Pooh prints. These prints stay far away from Disneyfication, instead featuring the nostalgic original illustrations for the books by E.H. Shepard alongside sentimental inscriptions. These are a popular choice for christenings and new baby’s rooms, but not just that. A common refrain of, “you’re never too old for Winnie-the-Pooh“, can be heard in the shop as people of all ages look to bring a bit of childhood joy into their everyday lives. Therein lies the whole philosophy of Tales for Tadpoles, you’re never too old to enjoy illustration, fairy tales, and childhood stories. The pandemic has made us all hyper-aware of the value of childhood, and for good reason. While our adult years pass by in a blur and become part of the tangle of time, the imagery and fascinations of just a few short years of childhood persist our whole lives.
Image: Moomin mugs and book
The range of illustrators in the shop represents a mix of local and international artists. Owner Caroline Sullivan’s intention was to bring together the best in illustration from around the world, so shoppers can find hidden gems they may not have known about. Scandinavia is a fruitful source of inspiration, and Tales for Tadpoles is the only place in Ireland to stock a highly collectible Moomin mug range produced by the iconic Finnish company Arabia. The Moomins are a sensation across Scandinavia, continental Europe and Japan, and these mugs have a strong cult following. Arabia releases new limited edition designs every year, based on original drawings from author/illustrator Tove Jansson’s prolific output. Each one is beautifully designed and is perfect for a joy-sparking morning moment with a coffee.
Image: Jenni Kilgallon’s Peter Pan
The shop’s selection prominently features many local artists too, including prints by Jenni Kilgallon, Shannon Bergin and Monika Mitkute. Their stylistically diverse prints draw on the rich mythology and storytelling tradition of Ireland, with Bergin recently telling the bookshop’s own online blog that “Ireland is filled with stories, there’s a belief in mythological figures and superstition that is embedded in our culture. Growing up, I was surrounded by storytellers”. The themes and motifs of the artists in Tales for Tadpoles break the mould of Irish iconography that is often geared more toward tourism’s definitions of Irishness.
Image: Chris Haughton’s rugs
Another Irish illustrator represented well in the shop is Chris Haughton, known for his best-selling books for young children including Ssh! We Have a Plan and Oh No,George! Tales for Tadpoles is the only shop in Ireland to stock a range of Fair Trade rugs designed by Haughton and produced by a crafts workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal. After becoming disillusioned with corporate design work and spending time living in Nepal, Haughton co-founded a company called NODE to create an intersection between beautiful design and Fair Trade principles. The rugs are produced in association with Kumbeshwar Technical School, set up by a local family in the 1980s to provide free skills training to a community held back by the caste system. Now Kumbeshwar Technical School sustains itself with income from craft products like these rugs. Their network trains and employs traditional craftspeople and provides health education and daycare facilities to improve their lives in a tangible way. The rugs are handmade using traditional Tibetan-influenced carpet-making techniques. They’re a beautiful fusion of contemporary Irish design and Nepali craftsmanship.
More options to soften the home include traditional music boxes, and cushions featuring Roald Dahl and other’s most beloved characters. Some shoppers have even chosen to decorate with framed sheets of gift wrap sold in the shop, or have used gift wrap as a decoupaged backing for bookshelves. The opportunities for innovation are endless when imagination itself is the starting point.
Tales for Tadpoles
47 Drury Street
Use code TOTALLY10 for 10% off all online orders.