For a customised home that fits your personality and lifestyle, you need an interior designer and architect who are on the same page. Eoin Lyons and John Kelly explain how their dream team works - and share stunning room samples from three of their most recent projects...
?Architect and designer combos are still fairly rare in Ireland, and where they do exist, it's not usually on an equal footing,? begins John Kelly. ?Often it's an interior designer working in an architect's office.? John and partner Eoin Lyons may be poised to change all that, though. The traditional tension between interior designer and architect is a non-issue for the couple, who have collaborated on projects many times over the years - but now they've made things official with their brand-new venture. LyonsKelly offers a coherent approach to customising the perfect bespoke home - with all things considered from an architectural and interiors point of view, right from the outset. Before teaming up, John worked with de Blacam and Meagher Architects for 12 years, a job he loved; Eoin, who studied graphic design, has long enjoyed a high-profile career as an interiors stylist and journalist.
We meet them on a misty Dublin evening, which makes their cosy Georgian office on Fitzwilliam Square seem even more atmospheric. It's a tight squeeze - the partners now also employ two members of staff - and the space is filled with sketches, swatches, and a sense of enthusiastic industry.
Do you think there is often a failure to communicate between architects and interior designers on projects? John: Yes, absolutely. There is often a perception on the part of architects that interior designers are the soft spot in a project. The construction industry is being subjected to tighter regulation every year, and the role of the interior designer has become more professional, but there is still the perception among architects that interior designers flounce onto a site and up-end a year's work with the wave of a hand! Architects often forget that a lot of their heroes worked with interior designers to achieve their vision - Alvar Aalto and Aino Aalto, Mackintosh and Margaret McDonald, Charles and Ray Eames, Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand - they were all great pairings. When Eoin and I do combined architecture and interiors, we're providing a full package - from the first sketch of the building to the cushions on the sofa, we can produce it all.
You also offer bespoke home furnishings, tailored to the specific spaces and personalities of your clients. How does that work? Eoin: We've just designed a TV cabinet because we simply couldn't find the right piece that would house the television and look good in the room. We design pretty much everything, or adapt things. We've also designed numerous tables for different situations - consoles, coffee tables, side tables - using steel, brass, timber, glass and marble. Even if an item is ?off the shelf?, we will usually adapt it or tweak it a little - that might be taking a standard sofa design and changing the fabric, or adding a trim to tie in with some other element in the room. We have also designed rugs in wool and silk,?and commissioned custom-made fabrics. We work together on something like that: John, of course, takes an architectural approach - worrying about the proportions and structure - while I tend to be more about the finish and the materials. It also requires a lot of collaboration with the person making it - happily there are some brilliant craftspeople in Ireland.
Above: A customised TV cabinet designed by Eoin and John for a Dublin city home; click through the gallery at the top for more.
What is your advice for anyone embarking on a renovation or home makeover? John: Interiors shouldn't be just the add-on at the end of the job, if there's enough money left over. Plan for the cost of the decoration at the start of the project. Where 10 years ago, people were more concerned about adding square footage, now there's more appreciation of quality of space. One piece of advice we always give clients is to spend money where you can see it - do you really need to extend? Too often, people jump to the idea of extending as a fix-all when, quite often, if they spend their budget refurbishing what they have, they will get greater benefit from it.There's no point adding X square metres to a house and then not being able to afford to finish it out properly. Also consider light.
What are the main considerations when creating a bespoke home to complement your personality and lifestyle? Eoin: Any room that is thoughtful and sensitive to those who use it will always be a winner. I think life generally is inspirational: understanding how clients live is very important to knowing what they need from their homes.
Words Sharon Miney. Photography Mark Scott. Portraits Al Higgins.