Saturday 22 September 2018

Interior design expert on a space odyssey to create exciting rooms

Sean Gallagher meets owners of small and medium-sized businesses and shares the lessons they've learnt in building their companies

Sean Gallagher and Roisin Lafferty at Kingston Lafferty Design in Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren
Sean Gallagher and Roisin Lafferty at Kingston Lafferty Design in Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren
Sean Gallagher

Sean Gallagher

Our physical environments "really do affect our moods and how we live and work," says Roisin Lafferty, co-founder and managing director of Kingston Lafferty Design. Set up in 2010 and based in Eastmoreland Lane, Dublin 4, the company provides professional interior architecture and interior design services to both the commercial and residential sectors.

With a team of nine staff and a growing number of clients in Ireland and the UK, turnover for this year is expected to cross the €1.1m mark.

"Our design team are creatives. We approach every project as a unique challenge and a unique opportunity to elevate the end experience for users. We do this by introducing creativity, zest and value to commercial clients and seek to deliver happiness to home-owners," adds Roisin.

Initially, the company focused on the residential market - designing and fitting out individual homes, show houses and apartments - but over the last 12 months has transitioned into the commercial sector where she now works across a range of retail, hospitality, bars, beauty businesses and offices.

In addition, she creates bespoke furniture such as high-end tables, mirrors and lighting.

Among her many clients are Ballymore, Cairn Homes, Homeland Developments and Hollybrook Developments.

She has also designed three of the latest co-working spaces for the Iconic Office group and is the retained design firm for the chain of Therapie clinics as well as the Optilase group of laser eye clinics and flagship Urbana hair removal clinics.

She is also working on a number of exciting projects including a new tourist attraction in central Dublin, a number of high-end residential projects in London and a variety of bars and restaurants in Dublin's city centre

"Design is not just about aesthetics and attractiveness but about spatial planning and functionality and ensuring that designs support the customers' experience and their movement throughout the space as well as making sure that layouts also work for staff," says Roisin.

And she should know.

A brand ambassador for Fleetwood Paints, Roisin also works with DFS helping to develop their brand in Ireland and the UK and, for the third year running, has been chosen as the brand ambassador for the House event in the RDS.

Roisin grew up in Goatstown in Dublin. Her grandfather's deep love of classical music and the arts instilled in the young Roisin a love of all things art and culture.

At school she loved to paint and artistic flair became her talent. She completed a degree in interior architecture and furniture design in Dublin Institute of Technology and a masters in product and spatial design in Kingston University, London.

"Graduating during the recession, most of the interior architects and designers had closed down or had dramatically reduced their practices so there were few opportunities," says Roisin.

Instead, she teamed up with Susanna Kingston to set up Kingston Lafferty Design. Over time Susanna returned to the UK to take up a job there while Roisin continued to grow the business in Ireland. One successful project led to another and today her company has established a reputation for delivering bold and exciting designs.

However, starting her own business at the height of a recession wasn't an easy undertaking especially as she had no money or business experience.

"It took a lot of long nights and involved a lot of hard work and uncertainty," says Roisin. "Being selected for the Enterprise Ireland supported Going for Growth leadership programme for women in business was critical at the time as it gave me the opportunity to be part of a supportive network of amazing female entrepreneurs."

Especially important was the mentoring she received from Louise Phelan, vice-president of PayPal.

Building the right team has also been a crucial part of the company's success to date especially hiring her friend and colleague Becky Russell.

"Our staff are incredibly talented as are the many external artists, joiners, metalworkers and stonemasons who work with us. Our culture is collaborative and team-based where inclusion and acknowledgement are key. There's simply no room for egos and hierarchy.

"Technical skills can be taught. What cannot be taught is ambition, initiative, passion and work ethic. To succeed in design and in business, it is as much about hard work, determination and dedication as it is about talent," she says.

With a growing list of awards for her designs, the future looks bright for Roisin and Kingston Lafferty Design.

Having just relocated to a new four-storey headquarters and showroom off Dublin's Baggot Street, she is excited at being able to showcase what she and her team can create.

"I love what I do. It's the best feeling in the world to walk into a space that didn't exist before and know that you and your team created it."

kingstonlaffertydesign.com

KINGSTON LAFFERTY DESIGN

Business: Interior Architecture and Interior Design

Set up: 2010

Founder: Roisin Lafferty and Susanna Kingston

Turnover: €1.1m

No of Employees: 9

Location: Eastmoreland Lane, Dublin 4

THE CHALLENGE

We all like to live and work in a comfortable functional environment that makes us feel good. For businesses, too, it’s important to create a space that reflects the values of the business and where staff and customers feel comfortable. Creating such spaces requires a high degree of skill, vision and talent.

ROISIN’S ADVICE FOR OTHER BUSINESSES

Always be out of your comfort zone

In business as in life, you get the best results when you are willing to take risks and stretch yourself. To be successful, you also have to operate from a place of passion. You have to feel a level of excitement about what you are doing to a point where you experience that feeling of having butterflies in your tummy.

Use creative thinking

You have to approach things differently otherwise you will never come up with new or creative ideas. Try to avoid feeling constrained and adopt a fresh approach in what you do. This allows you stand out from the crowd while creating exciting results.

Collaboration is key

The best results come when you remove your ego from the situation and work in collaboration with your clients and your team. Not only will you achieve better outcomes, but you’ll also feel a heightened level of satisfaction and happiness as a result.

Sunday Indo Business

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