Spotlight: Creative Stories from Around Ireland

SPOTLIGHT: Q&A with an interior designer

We spoke to interior designer and blogger, Moya Farrell, about her craft and her answers were inspiring.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

The client. I want each project to be unique and relevant to the client, the building itself and the surroundings. Getting to the core of how the client will use the space, how it should feel and what they want from it is the primary objective. It is my job to make their ideas, desires and requirements a reality. I love when a client focuses on the feeling they want to create in a space. Whether it be a space that brings calmness through order and simplicity or a space that creates a sense of excitement through dynamic and alternative design. Thinking about how you want the space to feel is something worth considering in the initial stage of a design project.   

I love when a client focuses on the feeling they want to create in a space.

When did you realise you loved design?

If I’m honest, I’ve always been fascinated by homes. Not so much architecture of grand scale buildings, which are of course undeniably impressive. But as a child my family moved a lot and I think it’s what ignited my interest in homes specifically. With every move there was a new kitchen, a new living space, a new bedroom and I so clearly remember the overwhelming sense of joy when everything was unpacked, and furniture assembled, and a space became our own. And having lived abroad, I think the Irish home came to hold a real charm for me.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and when you experience other cultures you can often pinpoint what you love about your own culture when you identify the things you love and miss most about home.

I do have a huge admiration for the quality and rigour of Scandinavian design and their emphasis on design as a nation, and like them, in Ireland I think we create cosy and inviting homes almost instinctively. We are a welcoming and social nation and our homes follow that theme.

Home of Helle Moyne – Nordic Elements Founder

What is your process when creating a new design?

There’s a great value in the very first encounter with a client. This is the ultimate first impression because by nature, we all represent ourselves in ways we don’t even realise, from our choice of language to how we dress. I think our homes and spaces need to be representative of who we are and how we live. So, my starting point in the process is to get an understanding of the essence of the brief, the users of the space and how I can enhance their lives with a design to fit.

Do you ever get writer's block? What do you do then?

Because I am working for myself I actually have a nice balance between creative work and administrative/general tasks in my day so in fact working on the creative stuff is where I am less likely to run out of steam. That said, writer's block isn’t something exclusive to writers. I think we all can relate to that feeling of being stuck creatively or that something just isn’t reaching the level we’d anticipated. For me, perseverance is probably the only way around this. I find that for me, one of the secrets of producing my best work is re-producing. Sometimes I might be on version three or four of a design proposal, that barely resembles what the first draft encompassed; but you have to get to the point of something that feels true to the client, something you have really thought about and something that fully fits the brief. That rarely happens in an instant. The notion of a designer waltzing into a room and seeing it all in their mind's eye in an instant is an ideal I have not yet been lucky enough to experience! 

Design is a process of constant questioning, considering and investigation before you can even think about executing. 

What do you do to stay inspired?

I get a lot of inspiration through new and novel experiences. For example, exploring a new landscape or culture or visiting public buildings, shops or homes with carefully thought out details and quirks usually floods my mind with inspiration. I have a real interest in seeing brands come to life physically in a space. Conveniently that means visiting nice hotels, shops and restaurants. Recently I was in The Sitting Room on Camden Street which is a great example of a well-considered space. It was like being invited into an exclusive house party - I rang the bell to get in and immediately there was a real sense of being in someone’s home.

The Sitting Room on Camden Street

Decoratively this beautiful Georgian building didn’t need much; the décor and furniture was tasteful and balanced, incorporating a sense of minimalism intertwined with the original decorative details of the building and a relaxed, personal feel to the space. The bar, while impressive was also quite discreetly tucked away in one corner of the sitting room, stocked with a mix of new and vintage drinks bottles. The drinks were served in elegant, contemporary glassware and the over-sized ice-cube in them was engraved with the brand name. This accumulation of small details builds to a bigger overall experience - it is considered, unique and most importantly memorable. Somewhere you want to bring your friends back to.

Are there any designers/artists who are inspiring you at the moment?

Art-wise, I am a huge fan of Irish artist Ruthie Ashenhurst’s work. She does figurative and landscape paintings that are really evocative. Her work is simply stunning.  In terms of designers, I have huge admiration for British designer Ilse Crawford who has really challenged the perception of interior design, emphasising the value it can bring to humanity. Her work emphasises empathy and exploration and I am in awe of her work and her teachings. She is revolutionary.

Determined – Ruthie Ashenhurst

What’s your creative space like?

It’s a box room and for now it’s quite minimal and basic. Functionally it works but aesthetically I would like to add to it in time. I like the idea of incorporating some antique pieces and some simple art and hopefully creating a sample wall for all the gorgeous materials I’m collecting.

Moya's office

Do you have any words of encouragement for our creative readers?

Plan slow, act fast.  Whatever your dream is plan, plan and plan some more. Taking the time to plan and research and formulate is paramount. And conversely, where you don’t want to take your time is in acting on that plan. The planning phase should be enjoyable and excite you so much so that you are raring to go when it comes to acting on that plan.

Don’t underestimate the value your creativity can bring to an organisation, a team and even humanity. I often feel what I do is so much less important than what my friends who are doctors do but the world needs us all. I have come to learn that belief in your own ability is a powerful thing. And while design doesn’t save lives, it can have a hugely positive impact and that is something that motivates me daily. 

Creativity is contagious - surround yourself with people who get you, your abilities and who can help you flourish. 

You can find Moya’s blog here.

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