5 minutes with interior designer Róisín Lafferty on the biggest year of her career

We catch up with Róisín Lafferty a year on from her Interior Designer of the Year win at the 2018 Design Awards. She talks inspiration, design and business advice and what’s up next for her design firm KLD following their busiest year yet.

I always was hugely interested in art. When I was in school I was the person who always did the artistic things for my presentations and projects. I also knew I needed to do a job that I loved. I had part-time jobs of since the age of 15 and I learned quickly that if I was going to work my whole life I needed to like it.

I love installations and art, and the fun that you can have by not doing things in a traditional way. That's quite powerful to be able to change and improve the spaces that people live in.

A KLD project in Donnybrook. Photo: Barbara Corsico


Verner Panton is always an inspiration to me, he’s such a classic example of how good design remains relevant. His work so far in the past, it almost has an otherworldly and mythical tone to it. Yet that's very playful.

Creativity is definitely valued more now. Even from a commercial perspective, big corporations have realised the productivity value of having a creative environment. Especially in retail, where people want and expect more now from the overall experience now.

At KLD, our design process begins with a strong concept that we can adhere to all the way through. Then we have to convince our team of skilled tradespeople that it is possible! When you’re working on a hotel or a restaurant, it’s easy to get bogged down in what existing restaurants looks like. We want to do different things and use materials in unusual ways rather than just looking at what’s available or already out there.


View this post on Instagram


KLD HQ gallery and team wall. #kingstonlaffertydesign #KLD #wearecreatives

A post shared by Kingston Lafferty Design (@roisinlaffertykld) on

A week at KLD starts with a breakfast meeting on Monday. There are fifteen of us in total, all working on 25 different projects of varying scales, which mean at least five people are out on sites or projects on any given day. This meeting gives us some order. It’s a bit of a roller coaster but that’s part of the fun.

Nothing beats the movement and freedom of sketching and figuring your design out freehand. We use all the rendering programmes but I find them quite restrictive. It's not really encouraged amongst young graduates now but I think there is too much focus put on 3D skills and often it can actually disguise clever design thinking. So we go back to basics and clients tend to respond positively to it as well.


It was absolutely fantastic to win Interiors Design of the Year last year. I really didn’t expect it and I was so delighted to be seen with the other companies in my category who I admire. You expose yourself a lot when you’re in a creative field, you’re really putting yourself out there for judgement and a little part of me goes into every job. It’s great to have it recognised.

Since winning, we’ve been busy! We have just completed a student accommodation and budget hotel called Hatch in Cork and a seven-storey office block in Belfast. We also set up our sister company CREATE by KLD, which is a design consultation service. I’ve just become president of the IDI [Institute of Designers Ireland] in July so I’m pulling together a strategy for that, focusing on promoting all the amazing creative talent that Ireland has to offer.

Hatch in Cork, designed by KLD. Photo: Ruth Maria Murphy

My design advice to anyone is to know your vision. I’ve been very uncompromising on my work and I think that’s important if you want to build lasting design integrity. In terms of business, I would say ask all of the questions – everyone started somewhere. I’m still learning all the time and making a lot of mistakes, but that’s life.

My last bit of advice, which crosses both business and design but especially design, is build strong relationships. You’re entirely reliant on those who implement your work, and interpret your work and price your work and build it. You are as dependant on them as they are on you and it's important to have a good creative and construction team around you to execute it.

Featured image: Photographed by Al Higgins


Read more: Need a wedding gift? These Irish-made tableware brands make for the perfect present

Read more: Celebrate Irish design and craft with us at the Image Interiors & Living Design Awards 2019

Read more: On the hunt for an innovative architect? Here are 4 of the best in Ireland

The image newsletter