Colm Molloy and Jed Dowling run this off-beat darling of a shop on Kildare Street in Dublin. It’s an opticians as well as being a beautiful curio full of knick-knacks, antique furniture and art work. From being a shop in which they sell vintage glass frames, it has now become both their home and a space for events and gigs. We met the two opticians in their sanctuary where they work, rest and play.
You live and work in the building? “We both do jobs other than opticianing and we were looking for offices in town when we found the space and just kind of fell in love with it. There’s something magical about it. It’s cozy, but airy and just feels really welcoming and we thought it was a waste to just use it as office space. As we’re both qualified opticians, it made sense to start there. It started as an office, and very quickly became an optician, then, because we weren’t using the space in the evenings, we started letting friends organise events here, and after a year or so it’s become our home.”
How do you describe what Molloy and Dowling do? “Obviously we’re primarily a dispensing optician; we don’t test eyes, but we fill prescriptions. We try and source frames that aren’t being sold everywhere else so a lot of our frames are vintage, display pieces or come from small suppliers. We also accept payment in barter, so some people will pay with art or furniture, and we then put those pieces up for sale so the space is a bit like a gallery and a curiosity shop too. We’ll consider any swap so you never really know what’s going to be in the place.”
How did you end up training as opticians? What did you do before? “We actually both got into optics very young. We both wear glasses, which I think gives you a bit of an interest in it, and we pretty much started in the industry working the shop floor for other people during the summer. It’s possibly a tad quirky, but it keeps us amused.”
Photography by Ailbhe O’Donnell