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Talking Good Design with Architect Declan O’Donnell 

Creative Director of ODKMHome Of The Year judge, and now published author – Declan O’Donnell is on something of a roll. We caught up with the Dublin-based architect to talk about his new book Rooms and all things design...

Rather than focusing on high-concept architect-orientated homes (likened by Declan to “Bond villain lairs in snowy mountains”), Declan O’Donnell’s newly published home design guide Rooms focuses on creating a home that works for the way we actually live. Calmly taking you through each step, it’s packed with inspirational imagery and words of wisdom. So what, according to Declan, qualifies as “good design”?

At the book’s very core is Declan’s adage, “Stick to the brief.” Whatever scale you’re planning, Declan strongly advises that you be honest with yourself from the beginning. “Be analytical, and be pragmatic about the rooms limitations.”

ODKM

The good news is that the dream of having a bottomless budget might not be all it’s cracked up to be. It offers far too much choice, and easy solutions, which can turn out quite boring. “If anything having a tighter budget is in some ways easier, as the bigger decisions are made already.”

With a more limited budget people are spurred on to react creatively, be considerate in their spending and often achieve a far more personal and unique finish. Declan notes, “The budget is part and parcel of the brief, but not the be all and end all.”

ODKM

More good news is that Declan believes good design needn’t be an elitist or elusive realm, and the Dublin of today reflects that. “There seems to have been a shift,” he says. “Particularly in the last five years, Dublin seems to have been steadily falling in love with itself once again.”

According to him, the recession provided a much needed creative kick to make design a central focus. “The question became less about making money, and more about asking what we could create.”

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He compares what’s happening here to how almost everyone is “design aware” in cities like New York and Copenhagen– in terms of everything from street furniture to shop fronts and clothing – and says we are witnessing a similar democratisation of design in Ireland. “Home of the Year is a stellar example of how anyone can utilise what design has to offer.”

Ultimately, Declan’s sees a great living space is informed by your everyday life and the quality of life you’re seeking. “Don’t just do nothing, or think you can’t do it or you’re not worthy of it. Anything is possible.”

On Saturday May 7 at Roche Bobois, Beacon South Quarter, Declan will talk through the idea behind Rooms and how to create a home for your life. The first 20 people to register will receive a free signed copy of the book: email [email protected] or call 01 6531650. 

Rooms is published by Hachette Ireland (RRP €25) | Images Courtesy of ODKM Architects

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