Wednesday 21 March 2018

Makers and doers

With a reputation for ethereal wood furniture, Joseph Walsh’s Enignum V Canopy Bed is an exploration of the freeform art of bending ash; Photo: Andrew Bradley
With a reputation for ethereal wood furniture, Joseph Walsh’s Enignum V Canopy Bed is an exploration of the freeform art of bending ash; Photo: Andrew Bradley
Night Horizon; A stained oak veneer cabinet is adorned with an inlay pattern cut from a single sheet of aluminium:
An elegant sideboard hand carved in walnut;
Space Invader; Based on origami, this console folds and twists;
Designed to seat 14 this is inspired by a bridge on the M50 near the airport;

Amanda Kavanagh

For those looking for an alternative to mass-produced, machine-made furniture, there seems to be more homegrown options than ever - and you can still see some of the best if you go along to the last day of House 2016 at the RDS today. New ideas are practically pouring out of Ireland's designers and makers right now. Natural materials prevail almost across the board, while simple designs inspired by the Nordics is a trend that continues to grow.

Knut from Klimmek-Henderson Furniture agrees. "There' are many great designers working at the moment but for me, Joseph Walsh really stands out. Not only are his designs breathtaking but his unwavering commitment to excellence in everything he and his workshop produces is inspirational. John Lee is another maker whose designs I enjoy."

For Knut, his priority is to make designs more affordable by simplifying construction methods and by selecting materials and finishes which are more accessible. His team works mostly from specific commissions, but has also been developing a series of bedroom furniture, which they are launching at House this weekend. This Cloudy series is inspired by cloudscapes as seen reflected in windows and glazing of cities and towns. "Organic and natural forms seen against or behind man-made forms are particularly interesting to me," Knut explains.

Claire of Dunleavy Bespoke has noticed a trend towards the organic emerge. "This might mean striking a balance between rustic, textured oak, and something which is exceptionally finished, modern and elegant, or it could be the exposing a live or waney edge which is the natural edge of the timber."

Towards the end of last year, Dunleavy Bespoke sourced Siberian walnut boards to make a 14-seater, walnut dining table with a live-edge finish, and ever since this has been a highly sought-after aesthetic for them.

Susan of Zelouf+Bell also agrees that there are many independent makers creating interesting work, however she has a caveat. "There are many artists who push boundaries, but find it difficult or impossible to make a living. It takes an educated clientele committed to supporting its community of artisans to keep skills alive.

"What manifests in our work are things that move and delight us," she explains. "A recent interest in optical graphics inspired the ripple-effect pattern in our Stones in a Pond cocktail cabinet, while Yamamoto's vinyl Tokyo Pop costume for Bowie's 1973 Aladdin Sane tour directly influenced the door graphics."

"We sense a movement towards handmade goods, goods built to last, objects with meaning and a story to tell. While we welcome a recognition of the value of a thing well made, we despair at the flood of cheap goods masquerading as craft," Susan says. "We urge potential clients to buy better, buy less."

Amanda Kavanagh is editor of Image Interiors & Living magazine

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