Abigail and Ryan – whose names make up one of Belfast’s most buzzed-about interiors brands – take us on a tour of their vintage-inspired studio and personality-filled home…
Just off the Falls Road, past the busloads of American tourists ogling murals, is Conway Mill, an imposing chunk of a building that served as a linen mill for over 100 years. It has been beautifully converted and is now a protected, community-owned space. Pass the café selling Belfast baps – sambos the size of your head – and soon you’ll be knocking on the studio door of Abigail Ryan Homewares. Part showroom, part workstation, it’s where the duo dream up the colourful, maximalist patterns that adorn wallpapers, tea towels, and cushions.
We visit their studio on a dark and rainy Belfast day, but the bright walls, the couple’s sunny dispositions and tales of upcycled bargains quickly lift our spirits. Here Abigail gives us the inside track on the couple’s creative partnership…
How would you describe your style?
Reinvented florals, with a vivid and uncommon colour palette.
You both started out in different disciplines. What made you decide to collaborate on textiles?
When we met, I was a jeweller and Ryan was an accessories designer. I had always been fascinated by surface pattern design, and it was an integral part of my jewellery practice. We loved working together, so knew we wanted a dedicated collaborative platform. We started designing patterns, thinking that perhaps we would use them inside some of Ryan’s handbags. But they were too lovely to hide, and, we thought, successful enough to stand alone as designs. So, we decided to use them in an interior setting, and also launch some illustrated tea-towels – that was our first collection, and we’ve come quite far since then.
How did you decide how your studio would look and feel?
We were in awe when we found this beautiful converted linen mill, with its stunning bright and airy spaces and gorgeous original features. So we knew we wanted to keep a lot of the space in its original white painted brick, which works beautifully with the original tiled floor. After that, we wanted to hang our own wallpaper to show if off in such a big space, but we also wanted to upgrade the lighting (it just had strip lighting), so tackled those two jobs first, adding some huge industrial style light fittings from Ikea.
We had started to gather bits and pieces – Ryan jokes that we had “studio cups” before we even had a studio! – in the months leading up to moving in. We found an amazing vintage Ercol Windsor suite and nest of tables on Gumtree for a song that added a lovely little sitting area for the showroom side of the space. We had these upholstered in our own fabric, and they look fantastic.
How do your home and workspaces differ?
Up until very recently, they were one and the same, so aesthetically, the spaces are quite similar. We have lots of lovely bits and pieces and love an eclectic mix of art, textiles, ornaments and furniture in both spaces
Words and photography by Nathalie Marquez Courtney.