HomeFashion‘Everyone’s style is so different’: The Irish interior designers scooping global awards

‘Everyone’s style is so different’: The Irish interior designers scooping global awards


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Homegrown designers and creatives at various stages in their careers are receiving much-deserved international recognition

The Dublin-based interior design house, Kingston Lafferty Design, is leading the charge.

In January, KLD won Best Residential Interior Design Project at the Créateurs Design Awards, a glamorous Parisian competition with prizes in many design categories and entries from across the world.

“I love it that we won for a project in Co Wicklow,” says Roisin Lafferty, principal of KLD.

“It’s not New York and it doesn’t need to be. It’s really good to see Ireland celebrated.” KLD was shortlisted for the same award in 2020 and 2023. “It was very exciting to win this year,” Lafferty says.

“It’s not that awards are everything, but anyone who doesn’t want reassurance and validation is lying.”

Lafferty doesn’t aim small. “The thing for us has always been about creating world class designs and being uncompromising about that. Right from the start we had big aspirations.

“The international awards are the significant ones now because that’s where we want to be. It’s a sign that we’re staying relevant in an ever-changing sphere.”

Their winning project, The Estate, is a Georgian country house with an understated aesthetic and an emphasis on materials: lime-washed plaster, raw stone, mild steel.

“There’s nothing there that’s pretending to be something that it’s not,” Lafferty explains.

Roisin Lafferty of KLD. Photo: Ruth Maria Murphy

Very few of us, let’s face it, can afford a KLD interior. Design of this material integrity doesn’t come cheap.

The actual cost of their projects is between KLD and their clients but, to give an indication of pricing, their interior for The Farm, a family home in Co Meath, won Best Residential Project over £1m at the SBID Awards 2023. I know.

For the rest of us, looking at high-end projects can help define and refine our taste.

“The Estate has an atmosphere that just draws you in,” Lafferty says.

If you like the way it makes you feel, it will set you thinking about how to use these materials in your own surroundings.

“There’s a reason people are drawn to certain projects. It’s more than just the aesthetic — it’s the tone and the mood you want to tap into and it doesn’t have to be the expensive things — it could be the rawness.

“The feeling is not budget related and that’s the magic of it.”

Many aspects of the interior would work just as well in a country cottage as in this fine Georgian mansion.

“We tell the story with videos and photography because people don’t get to step into these private homes. Pinterest and Instagram have helped reinforce ideas that people would have been scared to go near.”

The Schoolhouse, Galway by KLD with Helena McElmeel architects. Photo: Barbara Corsico

The fearlessly jewel-bright palette of previous KLD projects, like The Schoolhouse in Galway, has been an inspiration to many.

“Paint is a very good way to create impact, irrespective of budget,” Lafferty says. “Some of our projects are always going to be really loud and bold and playful. They’re super-fun. But being able to play with materials is relatively new to me.

“Our designs can look like polar opposites of each other but certain people gravitate towards different projects. For us to do a good job at designing someone’s home, it has to have depth. It’s not surface level.

“They trust us with their money and their homes. Putting your dreams into someone else’s hands is quite an intimate relationship and the only way for it to work is for you to be open and honest about how you live and how you want to live.”

The Schoolhouse, Galway by KLD with Helena McElmeel architects. Photo: Barbara Corsico

KLD is not the only Irish name to win at the Créateurs Design Awards.

In 2023, Niamh Barry won Best Product Design for her Shouldering Table, made from handcrafted bronze and inspired by the action of fishermen carrying a currach on their shoulders to and from the sea.

“It’s a one-off piece of functional sculpture but there isn’t a category for that, so product design was the closest fit,” Barry says. “I’m honoured to have won!”

Her Ghost Bench, made of mirror polished bronze, was longlisted in the same category. “It was a very rewarding recognition of my work on the international stage.” Prices for Barry’s work in this range start at €20,000.

Power Structures series by Carol Egan

Carol Egan, an Irish interior and furniture designer based in New York, was also in the limelight at the 2024 Créateurs Design Awards where her Power Structure collection was nominated for Best Limited Series and Bespoke Design.

The collection includes the Robusto chair, a piece of contemporary sculpture that can also be sat on.

It’s made from painted fibreglass using 3D modelling software and finished using traditional woodworking techniques.

Egan’s designs are sold through galleries, as pieces of art, with corresponding prices. Those who invest in design at this level do so because they sense its potential to become a classic.

A Robusto chair costs $15,000 (€13,834) at Maison Gerard, New York, but Irish people wanting to get in on the act should contact her studio directly.

Winner of the 2024 Sonas Bathroom Design of the Year by Bianca Cirdei

Awards are relevant for all designers, at every stage in their career. The Bathroom Design of the Year is a student award held by Sonas Bathrooms and TU Dublin (Technological University Dublin).

This year, each third-year design student was asked to tasked to design a luxury bathroom for a contemporary hotel, using Sonas products.

The overall winner, Bianca Cirdei of Drumcondra, Dublin 9, designed bathroom inspired by Pantone Colour of the Year — Peach Fuzz — with gold accessories and marble.

Second place 2024 Sonas Bathroom Design of the Year by Praise Akintokun

“Clever details such as the lighting set into the coving and floor to ceiling backdrop in the shower, delivered the icing on the cake,” the judges said.

As part of her prize, Cirdei’s bathroom will be brought to life in a Sonas Studio display.

“I was really surprised when my design got picked to win,” Cirdei says. “Everyone’s style is so different!”

While her use of complementary tones of peach sets her design apart, she points out that it’s also a universally accessible space and easy to navigate.

When she graduates, Cirdei hopes to take a job with as junior designer with an interior design firm.

Praise Akintokun, Bianca Cirdei, and Ania Pop Winners 2024 Sonas Bathrooms Design of the Year

In second place, Praise Akintokun of Mulhuddart, Dublin 15 was deemed to show “wonderful originality in the use of soft arch-shaped features with lozenge design touches throughout” and Ania Pop of Dunboyne, Co Meath (third place) was praised for an innovative layout with a curved central wall between bath and shower.

See kingstonlaffertydesign.com, niamhbarry.com, studiocarolegan.com, sonasbathrooms.com

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