20th Century classics at home in Dublin
Simon O'Driscoll's city centre schoolhouse is home to a fine collection of 20th Century classic furniture.
Furniture designer and dealer, Simon O'Driscoll, lives in a converted 19th Century four-room schoolhouse in Dublin's north inner city.
"I bought it from the nuns in 2006," says Simon. "It was boarded up and hadn't been used in years. My brother Micheál is an architect and he helped me realise my vision for the space. It has lovely high ceilings, and great light."
Doing much of the work himself, Simon set about converting the former school into a loft-style home, with a large open-plan kitchen/dining/sitting room, a home office, and two bedrooms. He kept the original floorboards - you can still see the footprint of the school's rooms on the floor - and created the sense of a passageway along one edge of the space by laying the boards in the opposing direction.
"I wanted to keep the feel of the space as it was," says Simon, "so I interfered with it as little as possible, just dry-lining the walls and installing new windows. I put in a garage underneath, and I'm hoping to add a roof terrace in the future."
The spare lines of his home are the perfect backdrop for Simon's collection of 20th Century classic furniture, which he has been interested in since interning in the modern classic furniture department at MoMA in New York after studying History of Art in Trinity. Until recently he bought pieces solely for his own collection, but recently launched a new business, Simon O'Driscoll Design (sodd.ie), dealing in classic furniture from the post-war period. Designs borne out of a long-standing collaboration with his brother, Tadgh - including the familiar Spine bench, DC table and orange Zoon chair in his kitchen - are also available through the new business.
"Post-war classic pieces are much more collectable now than when I first started collecting them back in the 90s," says Simon. "Travel, magazines, and TV have influenced people to be as open to 20th Century design as they are to antiques.
"The work of designers such as Charles & Ray Eames, Hans Wenger, Arne Jacobsen, Gio Ponti, Jean Prouve, and Achille Castiglioni is very much in keeping with what I aspire to in terms of my own designs in that the pieces are made to last. I like to see my work sitting alongside theirs!"
As well as helping clients to source specific pieces of classic furniture for their homes and offices, Simon restores Eames' chairs - like the pair of Time Life chairs in his sitting room - in need of love and attention. Meanwhile, his own new designs are, he says, increasingly sculptural and he is working more and more with organic forms and solid timber.
Words by Katy McGuinness
Photographs by Tony Gavin