Thursday 20 June 2019

At home with Ireland's top designers

Emma Manley relaxes at home
Sonya Lennon relaxing in the living room, her favourite room
Heather in Oranmore Castle, and with the heirloom wedding dress, which has worked its magic as Heather recently got engaged. Also shown is old photograph of her grandmother, Anita.
Chupi Sweetman Pell at her kitchen table
Chupi's favourite painting.
Chupi rifles through her vintage trunk
A photo of Emma Manley with her late dad David and her lucky unicorn.
Emma Manley: Book cover of Alexander McQueen.
Emma Manley: A painting by her mum
Emma Manley relaxes at home
Emma and her‘Vogue’ magazine collection
Emma Manley's show drawer
Heather Finn with an old photograph of her grandmother, Anita and a painting by her mother, Leonie King
Chupi at her kitchen table
A message left for Chupi by her partner Brian
A favourite painting of Chupi's
The living room in Sonya Lennon's home
Photo of Sonya's twins
Two of Sonya's favouite books
Some of Chupi's travel books
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

Four of Ireland's leading fashion and jewellery designers invited Bairbre Power inside their beautiful homes to showcase their day-to-day inspirations

Fashion designer Emma Manley currently lives in Co Dublin after returning from working in New York and London:


I love chilling out in the family living room, which has a high, vaulted ceiling. I also love my studio, where I keep all my patterns, fabrics and years of 'Vogue' magazines.

When I was growing up, it was my mum's fashion studio, and I spent so much time shadowing her, watching her work and trying my best to help her out.




The Alexander McQueen 'Savage Beauty' book was a gift to myself. I wanted something to remind me of my days interning with McQueen in London. It's such an inspirational book and something I will never get bored of looking at.

I'm lucky that I never really have to buy clothes, as the Manley sample rail is my wardrobe.

Shoes, however, they're what I splash out on to accompany my Manley. My Kurt Geigers (as worn above) were my pick of shoe for AW13. I adore them and wear them a little too much. Buying a good shoe is essential for me, and I keep my shoes in a drawer in my bedroom.

My mum, Shelagh, is a wonderful artist. She specialises in 'foodie' paintings, and our house is filled with her pieces, which for me evoke family time around our kitchen table.

I don't ride horses, but I have this strange love for all things horsey and, if I'm being honest, unicorns. I don't know when it started, but all of a sudden I had this wonderful horse/unicorn collection. I even got a illustration from Himself at Christmas by my favourite illustrator, Katey Jean Harvey, of me on a unicorn.

Can you imagine how excited I was to shoot the promo film from Manley SS13 with a horse in it? A total dream come true.

Once a year, I get all the pictures that I took over the year printed, and then get them into albums. I love to look back at albums and remember times past -- not in a sad way, but just to remember because sometimes it's easy to forget wonderful experiences.

For my niece Emily's second birthday, I made her a scrapbook of pictures of us. Every time she would come and visit me in my studio (at least three times a week), I'd take a picture on my computer of us.

It began so I could show my sister, who lives in London, how much Emily was growing. Two years later, I had more than 1,000 photos. Now she has a beautiful book of memories. To me, they're the kind of gifts that are priceless.


I was recently given Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's 'Veg'. I'm not a vegetarian, but I do love a veggie feast from time to time -- and now my veggie feasts are far more adventurous.

When I'm cooking for people, I tend to do tear and share. Again, it goes back to our family time around the table. Sharing food and conversation is so important.

I don't bake. I'm wheat-intolerant, so I steer clear of cooking things that I'm not really supposed to eat. But one of my New Year's resolutions is to try out some gluten-free baking.


Chupi Sweetman Pell at her kitchen table

Jewellery designer ChupiSweetman-Pell lives with her fiance, Brian, in Portobello, Dublin


Our kitchen is tiny, but we have seated 10! I love taking a Saturday off with Brian and cooking up a gorgeous meal for our dearest friends.

When you rent, it's very hard to find a house with a gorgeous kitchen. When we viewed our current home, we knew we had to have it because the lovely couple who own it had put such thought into designing the kitchen.

My mum (author Rosita Sweetman) is an art fiend, so I have lots of beautiful pieces 'borrowed' from her. My photo of JP Donleavy is one such item. It's such an intense image and it works really well beside my feather crown.

One of the first things we did when we moved in was have a table made by this brilliant design team called Tavern Designs in Co Westmeath.

They used recycled wood from an old factory and made a great bespoke table for €200. It's long and skinny -- perfect for our tiny room -- and has a board running down underneath it for resting your feet on after a good meal.

Our neighbours are the Bretzel Bakery, which means that the house fills with the smell of bread baking from early in the morning. We are also right beside the Grand Canal, which is a lovely piece of nature right in the city.

We spent last year's glorious summer making pizza, grabbing a bottle of wine and lazing by the canal.

The swans that live on the canal provided the feather that I used to make my adored feather earrings, which have proved one of the most popular pieces in my collection.


Our wedding box is a vintage trunk that my mum gave me for my 21st birthday, and I've been using it to collect gorgeous things for DIY for our wedding.

Brian and I met at 16, and 13 years later we're getting married this year at Mount Druid in Co Westmeath.

I have yards of silk for tiny fabric hearts, copper wire to wrap around glass jars to make hanging candlelights and vintage hand-corded lace to make table runners. The trunk is full of the promise of magic for our wedding.

When we moved into our new house, my mum gave me a painting of apple blossom by my great aunt Bonny. I never met her, but I love that we are connected by time and a similar aesthetic. Years and generations apart, her painting is so part of who I am and how I design.

My Mulberry 'Alexa' was a ridiculously expensive, glorious treat. I adore the subtle leopard print and the satchel style. It-bags tend to belong to a moment in time, but I hope to be still rocking this into my 90s.

My cat, Felix, is a loved 14-year-old black and white, the third generation to live with my family, and she is just as wild as her grandmother.

I've had her since I was 15 and she's the most wonderfully independent cat. At 72 in her years, she has decided that cat food is no longer for her and has taken to eating poached salmon. I plan to be equally sassy at her age.

It takes a very brave man to buy an engagement ring for a jewellery designer, but Brian did just that. It's a gorgeous deep yellow gold set with a tiny, unpolished conflict-free diamond. It's such a tiny thing, but it symbolises so much (as worn above).

I adore good design. It's funny how something as simple as a beautiful cup to have your tea in can make everything seem better. I have an eclectic collection of candlesticks and a scruffy, ancient collection of Le Creuset pots. There's nothing quite like cooking with Le Creuset, and I've been slowly accumulating a collection put together from flea markets and eBay.


"I love to eat, so I love to cook. My favourite is 'Plenty' by Yotam Ottolenghi. One of my favourite recipes from it is the roast garlic tart -- it's 50 cloves of garlic caramelised in balsamic vinegar with loads of yummy cheese.

Heather in Oranmore Castle, and with the heirloom wedding dress, which has worked its magic as Heather recently got engaged. Also shown is old photograph of her grandmother, Anita.

Knitwear and jewellery designer Heather Finn grew up in historic Oranmore Castle, which overlooks Galway Bay.


It's the Great Hall in the castle that my grandmother Anita Leslie bought in 1947 for £200 and restored from a ruin to an unusual family home.

The Castle is a 15th Century Norman keep. We have celebrated all our family events in the Great Hall around the fireplace. It is the heart of our home.

People have been celebrating in this room for more than 500 years, and it's lovely to carry on that tradition.

My next favourite room is the conservatory. It looks out over Galway Bay, and in the afternoon it's full of light. It was my late grandfather's (submarine commander Bill King) favourite room to read his newspaper.


I was always like a magpie growing up, collecting beads, trims, ribbons -- anything that sparkled.

I always discover amazing things packed away in old trunks hidden inside the back of old wardrobes.

"I have a wedding dress that was designed by Worth -- the first haute couturier -- and was originally worn by my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my mother at their weddings.

I also have a green dress that we call "the lettuce dress". It is a couture ball gown by Hardy Amies (who was Queen Elizabeth's dressmaker). It was originally a chartreuse green tulle, but is now faded.

I also once rescued an Hermes scarf from a bag that was on its way to the charity shop.


My mum, Leonie King, is an artist and print maker who uses the technique of carborundum high relief printing.

Her work has a strong focus on colour, and people often comment on just how similar our use of colour is -- it must be inherited.

I love walking beside the sea, which provided the inspiration for my SS14 collection. It's like escaping from the city, with deckchair stripes and lots of periwinkle blues. I'm introducing a homewares line to my collection this season to complement it.


My favourite cookery book is 'The Little Paris Kitchen' by Rachel Khoo. I love her style, and I make her lentils with beetroot and goat's cheese, her Quiche Lorraine with spelt flour, and her saucisson, pistachio and prune cake.

Sonya Lennon relaxing in the living room, her favourite room.


Stylist, broadcaster and fashion designer, Sonya Lennon, lives with her partner, David, and their twins, Evie and Finn, in a turn of the century house in central Dublin.


The living room represents relaxation. We've gathered together some contemporary and vintage furniture and, if the budget allowed it, we would love a large Danish mid-20th century sideboard to complete the double room.

David has a great eye for art and has had the privilege of working as a graphic designer on many exhibition books with artists including Katherine Boucher Beug and Makiko Nakamura.

Our coffee table is from the 1970s and was a find in Brixton. I cut a really good deal on shipping with a very handsome man called Moses.

I love my home because it's warm and friendly. Together we've put together a home that makes us happy. I'm not on a constant quest for stuff -- I don't need much that I don't already have.



I love classic with an unexpected edge. Two of my favourite pairs of shoes are among the oldest.

My Karl Lagerfeld courts were hard-won and bought from Brown Thomas whenever it lived on the other side of Grafton Street.

I watched like a bird of prey during the sale, and I finally swooped when they hit €50 -- reduced from more than €200. I still love the line of them and wear them with pride.

The others are navy satin Prada sling- backs, bought for me by my partner David in New York. At the time, the platform sole was extreme -- I'd never seen anything like it before. Now, they seem quite classic, and a good navy shoe is a very rare find. Prada is a bit of a weakness for me.

My granny-style handbag was an eBay find and comes with its own key. It will never date.

A much older item with similar attributes is my Bakelite evening bag from the 1950s, another present from David that was found online.


For 10 years, we've loved the pale grey that dominates the house. It is punctuated with pillarbox red in the kitchen and bathroom. But funnily enough, it's now time for a change.

I'm very inspired by the Danish thriller, 'The Bridge', and of course the glorious visuals of the film 'A Single Man'.

We're looking at changing the predominant colour in the house to a deep air force blue, offset with teak wood. The colours that will never change are the original vivid blue and yellow stained glass on a upper window. The light as it travels around the upstairs is a thing of beauty.

At home, I might listen to anything from (the composer) Pergolesi to (the rapper) Snoop Dogg. I also love the new album by Irish band The Lofires and I have a soft spot for Laura Marling.

We have a fine collection of cookery books, but I always return to 'Blazing Salads' and Nigel Slater. Nigel's new book 'Eat' is an absolute delight and is going to give me many new firm favourites in my repertoire.

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