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Image / Living / Interiors

Inside the Booterstown home and workspace of Nordic Elements’ Helle Moyna


by Amanda Kavanagh
03rd Apr 2021

Al Higgins

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Interior designer Helle Moyna (and her sheepadoodle Milo) welcome us into her home, where a library of ideas come to life.

Going through the distinctly castle-like front door to Helle Moyna’s marshmallow-pink-painted home and studio, it’s difficult to place the building in any particular time. To our left, we’re surrounded by contemporary Danish furniture and mid-century treasures, while to our right, classic marble countertops and crisp white kitchen cabinets by Wabi Sabi are offset by a changeable and an of-the-moment Beija Flor vinyl floor mat.

“The house is part 16th and part 18th century,” explains Helle. “The 16th-century half was part of Booterstown Castle. The walls are five-foot thick so the doorway feels like a corridor.” In addition, the Danish interior designer has been buying mid-century pieces at auction since her early 20s, most of which are still with her today. “I love the simplicity of the designs, the craftsmanship is exceptional as well as the quality of the materials, and they can fit into most styles of homes. I remember where and how I bought every single piece of furniture or light. It’s how I got my draw to ceramics and glass too – I love the shapes, colours and textures.”

Photo: Al Higgins

Helle is passionate about supporting original design. “Clients may not always have the budget for a Fritz Hansen chair, but there are many alternatives to meet most budgets and it is still possible to get an original design piece. I think it is really important to stay true to design originality, I would never buy or recommend a copy of a well-known design, this is illegal in Scandinavia, the UK and will be here soon I believe.”

In 2018 Nordic Elements celebrates ten years in operation, and although she founded the company in London, Helle is now firmly established as one of Ireland’s leading mid-century modern interior experts. Currently working on projects in Dublin, Galway and the South of France, she has noticed a distinct shift in client briefs.

“A lot of Irish people are returning from abroad with their families and are looking for the variety they have seen while away, and are more willing to invest in furniture. Unfortunately, Ireland is still quite limited in terms of shops and places to actually view and test the design furniture many are looking for.”

It’s part of the reason that, pre-pandemic, Helle spent much of the year on the road, visiting suppliers and shows in Cologne, Stockholm, London and Paris. On our shoot day, we catch her between two European trade trips. “I’m glad to say that grey is not that dominating anymore,” Helle says of IMM Cologne and Maison et Objet. “I loved the more earthy colours combined with salmon pinks, peach, blush, burnt orange and greens. Brass is still a strong element, and brown marble is becoming a welcome alternative to white and grey Carrara marble.”

Photo: Al Higgins

Of course, anyone can pick up a catalogue of the beautiful brands Helle works with, including DK3, Friends & Founders, Louise Roe Copenhagen and Ferm Living, and pick out lovely pieces, but seeing really is believing. “I don’t recommend any furniture I haven’t seen in real life,” Helle says. “Trade shows are hard work, but they are such a good way to keep up to date and test the new products. I sit on many chairs, sofas and stools. If I am travelling I always have my eyes peeled on anything that would work on a project or for a client. I take hundreds of pictures of all sorts of interiors – my phone is my virtual library.”

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Right now, it’s architect and lighting designer Arash Nourinejad whose work is exciting Helle the most. “Anour is his brand, and he creates beautiful lighting in a variety of materials. The simplicity and functionality are equal to the beauty of the designs.” Meanwhile, new to Nordic Elements in 2018 was Brdr. Krüger, who is supplying the new Noma restaurant with specially-designed furniture, which will be available through the Booterstown studio, as well as new pieces from 101 Copenhagen and Manér Studio’s ARC lighting collection for Le Klint.

Photo: Al Higgins

Over the next few months, Helle is concentrating on a villa for Irish clients in St-Tropez. “We are redesigning the atrium hallway and living spaces, which are all open-plan and overlooking the sea. It’s a beautiful property in a very peaceful setting. I was on a recent site visit with my client and came across some French artwork that is perfect and thankfully my client thinks so too. This set off my idea process and it’s all coming together really well. It’s quite often that inspiration comes from one piece. When starting a new project I usually find something unique such as a wallpaper, a chair or in this case artwork, and this gets the creative library in my head going.”

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2018 issue of Image Interiors & Living. Photography by Al Higgins

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