Tuesday 22 January 2019

Designer Roisin Lafferty's top tips for choosing, framing and hanging everything from tea towels to large-scale portraits

Art plays a big part in designer Roisin Lafferty's creative projects. She passes on her top tips for choosing, framing and hanging everything from tea towels to large-scale portraits Words by: Fran Power Photographs by: Barbara Corsico

Roisin Lafferty
Roisin Lafferty
Designer Roisin Lafferty.

THE slick Dublin penthouse that award-winning designer Roisin Lafferty and her KLD team have created for one of her clients is a magical space. There’s a 3.5m table that rotates to become either a boardroom or a dining table. There’s a forest of fake trees. There’s ‘the nook’, a tiny room where the carpet of artificial grass, shelves of faux plants and mirrored wall conspire to disorientate you. The ceiling is composed of fluffy white Ikea shades bunched up like cumulus clouds on an Irish summer day. The entire space is full of tricks and humour.

And then there’s the art.

To me, says Roisin, art is the magic added to a space. “It’s a fantastic way of adding personality.” For the penthouse, she sourced a large-scale piece by Spanish artist Lidia Masllorens, a face that dominates the open plan room. “I find faces quite captivating, female faces especially have such a depth to them. And I spent ages trying to find it. I didn’t want it to be abstract. I wanted it to be a focal point and then all the other materials have to work with it.”

Elsewhere there is a strong abstract geometric work by Irish artist John Redmond – who doubles as creative director at Brown Thomas – that stands out against dark panelled walls. “It really makes the room for me.” And a pink room divider made of pleated fabric, ‘Minima Moralia’, that she found at the annual design event Maison et Objet in Paris.

“It’s by Dante-Goods and Bads, I love the femininity of the pink in the really masculine space.”

She likes to source the artwork for her projects herself and looks everywhere from galleries to Instagram to graduate shows. And when she can’t find a piece that works, she either makes it herself or commissions it. For this project, for example, her brother, the sculptor Aaron Lafferty, made a series of plaster masks that punctuate a mirrored wall.

“They’re of my friend,” she laughs, remembering how he was wrapped like a mummy to make the cast. “Then, the idea was to distort the plaster while it was drying so the faces have different expressions.”

What would she advise those choosing pieces for their own homes? “I think sometimes people are afraid of art because it can be seen as really elitist,” she says. “We feel, ‘I don’t know anything about that so why would I go anywhere near it?’ But there is no right and wrong.

Art and colour are completely subjective.

Rather than focusing on what is on trend, select pieces that you absolutely love. It’s what you’re drawn to. It’s what makes you feel something.”

She has an irreverent approach and likes to mix and match different types of work, whether the mix is photos, prints and paintings or more unusual stuff. “I’ve a tea towel of a Dublin print that I’ve framed. Photographs, a scarf, wrapping paper — it doesn’t have to be precious.

It’s more to try to look at art in a different way.” If you’re warming up a space, for example, try a rug on a wall. “Straight away,” she says, “it will feel like a tapestry. It’s texture and warmth.”

An abstract work will be timeless, Roisin says. “And everyone will have a different interpretation of it. It’s a great way to introduce colour.”

She believes in playing with scale as she has done to great effect in the penthouse. One large-scale piece can make a room, she says, but smaller art pieces can also work well if they are hung properly. “A long line of smaller pictures along a hallway, say, looks great.”

Sometimes being faced with a huge expanse of bare wall to fill can be daunting – Roisin suggests a clever trompe l’oeil: choose a much larger frame and give the artwork a wide white border so it gives the impression of a much bigger piece.

When it comes to frames, Roisin is a minimalist. Simple, clean frames, she says, will stand the test of time. “I love Hang Tough framing in Portobello because they do such minimal framing and in all different colours. The frame is not the focus for me so I keep it as delicate as possible.”

And finally, she suggests that you take your time when choosing what to buy.

Building your own art collection is a process, not something to do all at once.

Sunday Independent

Editors Choice

Also in Life