BlogTourCGN sponsor Du Verre very kindly arranged an interview for me with one of their top designers, Clodagh. She’s an advocate of design for wellbeing, so I was keen to talk to her about her approach to design, and how that’s informed her work for Du Verre…
What’s the most important thing to know about you?
My life with myself is a constant challenge. I have an inner housewife that says: “That may be beautiful, but how do you clean it?”!
You’re quoted as saying “a space cannot be truly beautiful unless it functions in harmony with who we are… it’s about pleasure: discovering what pleases us and creating an environment that will celebrate those qualities and sustain us” and you clearly believe in the role of design in wellbeing. What is it about the way that you design that makes peoples lives better? Why is that important to you?
I believe that if I were a doctor, I’d be in integrative medicine. I can’t just look at one part, I must comment on and influence all the parts. I want to create a harmonious whole. This may get me into trouble sometimes with other contractors, but I want to create a legacy of wellness and joy. I’m more interested in how my projects help to make my clients feel than how they look.
Do you think design for wellbeing is going to become increasingly important across the board?
Wellbeing is very important and it’s not just a trend. It’s a movement and a very strong one. As a wellness advocate, I encourage people to curate their lives to help create happiness and balance. I believe in the Shaker dictum: “Do not make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful”.
You’re also very interested in green and sustainable design – why does this matter to you?
As architect Bill McDonough says, “every living thing is independent and connected”. If you are what you eat, you are what you say. We can make the decision to have a positive or negative effect.
Your Kuba range for Du Verre has African influences, you were born in Ireland, live in New York and have travelled to some 90 countries – is it fair to say that travel is a key inspiration for you? What is it about being somewhere else that gets the creative juices flowing?
There is something delicious about being removed from minutia. All the senses become heightened when I’m away. When I’m in Africa, for example, it is like I’m learning to eat, smell and see all over again for the first time. When in this heightened state, I see everything and keep a mental photo of it. Kuba was inspired by the ridges of a palm tree.
What’s your favorite place to visit and be inspired and why?
Everywhere, anywhere – it doesn’t matter. Experience inspires. I export my inner video into my designs. I bring colors, light and shadow, textures home with me from everywhere.
What influence do your Irish roots and Manhattan location have on your work?
Ireland has a huge influence on me through music, the changing light, subtlety of colors that are often veiled in mist, and the eternity of the stone buildings. Nothing is ephemeral. In New York City, there are many ethnicities, attractions, and images. I use my camera to collect the images. Manhattan is interesting to me since no one stays in one place for very long. It’s a combination of minimalism (if you have little space), highly efficient design, glamour and excitement. It’s an adrenalin rush with influences everywhere. It’s almost overwhelming.
What else inspires you? What do you do to overcome creative block?
I move around. I never sit starring at a computer screen or blank page. And I write. I’m very happy doing it. Photography is an interest to me and I’m planning to put together an exhibition of water images.
You must have quite some awards cabinet with awards like being one of Traditional Home’s Top 20 Icons of Design, the ADEX Gold Award for Clodagh Signature Kuba Collection for DuVerre Hardware and the Best of Interior Design merit award for Clodagh Signature Kuba Collection for DuVerre Hardware – what do such accolades mean to you?
My awards are hidden away – I only share them with my clients; who truly deserve them. They are for the clients. You are only as good as your next project. An award is lovely to get, but it becomes my next challenge.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud that I keep a smile on my face most of the day. And I make a damn good vegan meal with whatever is in the fridge.
Which part of the process do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy every aspect of the process including site visits, client relations, creative development, construction, prototype stage, every part of it. It’s 10% design, and 90% getting it done well.
What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?
You are not a fine artist. Throw your ego out the window and address your work with passion and dedication and don’t let up. Be compassionate with your clients. Be a travel guide and lead them to the right places. And remember that you don’t do this alone.
And finally, what’s your favorite color?!
I don’t have a favorite color. It’s usually the one that I’m with! There is truth in color through natural dyes and I try to capture that authenticity and deliver it as a product.
Further reading for the especially geeky: