Jo Linehan meets textile maven Jennifer Slattery.
On a narrow side street, somewhere between Smithfield and Collins Barracks, lives a pretty, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it corner shop. Beyond its aged, redbrick frontage you’ll notice, inside, a wooden workbench, material swatches, cards and placemats in neat bundles. This is the creative hub of Jennifer Slattery, a textile designer who has reformed a former butchers’ shop into her own showroom and studio. “I moved in here last summer,” Jennifer tells us. “The studio has great natural light, and the building is so full of character.” Much like Jennifer herself, whose bespoke table runners, napkins, placemats, tablecloths, cushions and blankets have become firm favourites amongst the discerning homewares and interior scavengers. “I draw a lot of my inspiration from antique cutlery. I have this growing collection of forks and spoons collected at markets in Paris, and quite a few pieces that belonged to my grandmother.” Her Forks collection has become a calling card for her signature style; a trompe-l’oeil motif with a pretty repeated plant illustration in the background. “I spent some time drawing ancient plants at the Herbarium in Dublin’s National Botanic Gardens.”
It was fascinating looking through files of plants that were collected over centuries.
Her love of design was ignited at a young age, knitting and sewing her way through school, but it wasn’t until she had graduated and was working as a graphic designer that she decided to pursue textile full-time. “In my first graphic design job, I worked on patterns and fabric designs for products that were sold in Dunnes Stores, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Roches Stores. I was always at my happiest working on textile design projects. It took a few years, but I did eventually make my way to NCAD and immersed myself in textile design.”
Her graduate show was a huge success (her table linen range sold out on its first day) and her eponymous business launched swiftly afterwards. “The business is mine, but I work with an incredible network of Irish producers and suppliers. For me, it’s all about quality. I’ve always preferred to buy a piece of clothing or something for my home that I love and will cherish for a long time, and the products I’m creating are made to last and age beautifully – I hope they’ll become future heirlooms to be passed down.”
This year sees the launch of her brand new website (to serve her growing clientele in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and America), and as always, her focus will be on the limited edition collections she releases seasonally. “I’ll be adding a personalisation element to our embroidered Irish linen pieces. It’ll allow the customer to choose the colour and design of a piece themselves and write an embroidered message on a gift too.” Her latest inspiration, though, has come from her current preoccupation: “My baby girl has inspired so many ideas for baby products. I’m planning to launch new personalised baby gifts on my new website in November.” Watch this space.
This article was originally published in the October issue of IMAGE Magazine.