In one of the most exciting collaborations of the year, celebrated fashion designer Helen Cody is teaming up with artisan rug makers Ceadogán to create a contemporary collection of stunning floor coverings. For this Image Interiors & Living exclusive, Michelle Hanley travelled to Wexford to watch them at work…
It’s an exciting time to be involved in craft, not just in Ireland, but worldwide. This feeling was very much in the air early one September morning, when I travelled to Ceadogán’s leafy studio beside Barrow Bay (dubbed the “Little Sea” by locals) to see their new fashion-inspired range of rugs.
The stone workshops and showrooms of the Cromwellian courtyard are dotted with highlights of perfectly combined colours, from the turquoise outhouse to the lilac windowsills: an effect that can only be achieved when the residents have a deep understanding of colour and appreciation of history.
Standing here, it’s clear to see why people are harking back to natural materials and traditional methods of production, and why cross-disciplinary collaborations – between craft carpet makers Ceadogán and renowned fashion designer Helen Cody, for example – are so in vogue. There is a heightened awareness of the potential for interplay between different disciplines of art, a blurring of the lines between artists and makers – a neo-arts-and-crafts movement. The Cody and Ceadogán pair-up perfectly encapsulates this trend.
The goal is no longer simply to create what is beautiful and useful, but also sustainable: the romantic idea of an item for life, something that will outlive you. This recognition of quality craftsmanship and the process of design is not just trendy out of novelty or sentimentality, or simply a backlash against mass production, but a striving for lasting meaning.
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of their takeover from master dyer Tom Ceadogán in 2016, my warm hosts, husband-and-wife team Denis Kenny and Fiona Gilboy, have established themselves as one of the most inventive couples in Irish textiles, treating each rug as a canvas. Having taken a backseat from the designing and making in recent years, these days they prefer to handpick interesting artists to collaborate with – and the latest to join the exalted club is celebrated fashion designer Helen Cody.
Helen – pared-back chic personified – drew on mid-century ceramics and furniture design as her inspiration for this collection, she says. “The palette of colours I have used for the rugs is very much my favoured colour scheme for interiors. Warm, neutral, soft greys but with a subtle pop of something interesting, like citrine, peacock, cobalt and steel blue.”
Irish Design 2015 has also kept Helen busy, having represented Ireland in Shanghai at the Successful Design Awards in September. She maintains from this experience that collaboration, as well as traditional methods and designs that have stood the test of time, is at the heart of modern design practice. “They say art leads and fashion follows,” she says. “I think the same can be said for interiors as, in the wash of social media sweeping our various screens, trends appear and disappear. So, I tend to stick to things I truly love when designing … that way, they won’t date.”
Pieces from the collection will be available in early 2016 in limited editions of 10, from €3,065.