Since the early days of dreaming about what Breac.House could be and what our guests would experience, one of our key ambitions was to surround ourselves with the work of as many local Donegal and Irish makers as possible. Our vision was to create a contemporary, bespoke setting within which our guests would experience a new form of modern Irish hospitality.
Over the coming weeks, we will continue to profile some of the amazing makers and producers we have worked with on special collaborations. It is a real joy to work with so many talented and passionate Irish makers, producers, growers and suppliers. Every season we aim to add new collaborations to further connect our guests to the west coast of Ireland. This week we look at one of our very first collaborations with Ashleigh Smith of The Atlantic Equipment Project.
How do you bring together 2 of our great passions - food and exploring our wild Atlantic coast ? Well you create a bespoke picnic backpack we can fill with with goodies for guest to enjoy on their rambles. As seasoned hikers, we had a very clear idea of what the backpack needed to be, how it would function and how the internal picnic compartment would be set up to accommodate a hearty picnic. We had an AE waxed rolltop bag of our own that had been road tested all around Ireland so Ashleigh was the obvious choice for our project.
Ashleigh Smith established Atlantic Equipment Project in the North West of Ireland to create a small collection of hand-made rucksacks and carry equipment, inspired by her Atlantic adventures. This project is one of the many results of 6 years of classical Industrial Design study and work, lots of years of bodyboarding, surfing and muddy salty adventure amongst the rainy, windy beauty of her home in the West of Ireland. She has competed internationally for Ireland at elite level and completed her MSc in the esteemed surroundings of Dutch design at The Technical University of Delft. Creating high performance carry-ware to compliment the environment and it’s people is what Ashley is all about, representing her passion, her home and her community.
Materials, so important to us here at Breac.House, are the very core of her designs. Heavy duck canvas has been used for centuries in the sea faring trades for it tough quality and its naturally water resistant properties. AE canvas has been proofed to add extra water resistant qualities. The waxed cotton used is made in a stunning old factory in Scotland. The waxed treatment of the cotton allows for waterproofing. It is a beautiful fabric that takes on wear and truly does get better with age. The straps on the bags are made from heavy weight 100% cotton webbing. The fittings, such as the D rings, the loops and slides for adjustability of the straps, are all made from extremely durable solid Cast Brass. Each pack we make in the workshop has a leather AE tabs sewn on. The tabs are laser cut in small batches and embossed by friends of Ashley in Co. Dublin. They are cut from pieces of new or vintage leather.
So with such a shared ethos, we were delighted to work with Ashleigh on the design of our sturdy picnic rucksacks that’s are filled with a hearty homemade lunch each day for guests to take on their travels around Horn Head and environs. The materials used reflect the fact that the weather here can be wet and windy. The somewhat retro design is deliberately intended to remind guests of their youth and a time when they may have used their old canvas rucksack on hikes with friends, family or school-mates. We would like guests to transport their minds back to those times and remind themselves of the importance of connecting with nature, sharing outdoor experiences with loved ones and remembering a time when we cared for our precious well-made possessions.
Following on from the success of our bags, they have been rigorously tested by our adventurous guests, we worked with Ashleigh again on the beautiful aprons used daily in the kitchen and also at our seasonal food events. The brief was similar-something beautiful and handmade but able to handle the rough and tumble of indoor and outdoor cooking. The result, our rugged workman like aprons that we wear everyday.
In 2020 Ashleigh continued her adventures with AE and the brand moved to the Atlantic west coast of Cornwall - a place with the same atmosphere, the same kind of wild beauty, love of the sea and hillsides, and all the experiences adventure offers. Her workshop there is busy and salty, just as it was in Ireland. For further details on Ashleigh's beautiful creation see The Atlantic Equipment.
Our beautiful bespoke bags are now firmly part of our guest experience and can also be purchased on our website shop Breac.Shop