INTERVIEW WITH ARCHITECT AND INTERIOR DESIGNER DENISE O’CONNOR
“We must do something together” is one of those phrases, similar to “Let’s meet up” or “I’ll call you” that often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Thankfully for Denise O’Connor, one half of RTE’s the design doctors, those words uttered at a Dulux event two years ago were not forgotten.In addition to running her own successful Architecture and Interior Design Business and her busy media schedule, Denise has also now begun working alongside the paint giant.True to their word they have done something together, with Denise’s new signature paint collection recently making a splash on the market.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said “I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday”
This saying really applies to Denise, because it was her decision to leave Ireland for London upon the completion of her architecture degree that has shaped her future.She left Ireland at a time when the country was prospering and people were jumping on planes to come back.
“My now husband got offered a job, so we decided that we would move to England for two years and see what happened. We ended up staying eight.The architect scene was completely different to the scene in Ireland; there were loads of opportunities and lots of variety. I was lucky to be part of it.When I first started in London, I was with [Walker and Martin]. I worked on a mix of office and residential projects, and in those formative years I made my first important decision, I liked working on smaller one-off projects such as houses, restaurants and pubs “.
The second major decision came on the back of the tragedy in New York on 09/11
“While thankfully I was not one of those directly affected, the ripples of those awful events were felt in London. The architecture industry entered a mini recession and I was one of those made redundant during the time.Thankfully, I was not out of work for too long. I remember seeing an ad for a company that not only did architecture, not only did design but married the two of them together [Target Living].The experiences helped me when I returned to Ireland. Not only did I know what type of Design Consultancy Company I wanted to start, I also got the chance to write for the Irish Independent.”
The move back to Ireland and the column again proved to be the right decision as it led to the creation of Optimise design, the company she co-owns with fellow interior designer Catherine Crowe, and a blossoming media career with RTE.
So, what is the key to her success and where does she get her inspiration?
“The secret? Hard work and saying YES to everything. It is as simple as that.
The inspiration? Well it comes from travelling to different places and seeing the buildings and structures in other cities. Ireland can be somewhat isolated at times, so the Internet is a great way to see what other designers are up to.I particularly love Pinterest and Houzz, these are great sources of ideas. I love looking at the style and colours used on projects in the UK and American. Film and Fashion are also great.”
Working on Design Doctor’s, Denise gets to see the inside of many homes and business, and she is left in no doubt as to the most inspiring project she has seen. It’s a project that Willie Duggan Lighting were involved in and know well.
“The Google building. It is an unbelievable building. We were lucky enough to talk to the facility manager. It was fantastic to hear the research and reasoning that went into the project. Google worked with their employees, listened to what they had to say, and then went and designed it.One of the best titbits of information that Google discovered in their research is that employees wanted their work place to feel like a home. I think it is fair to say that Google have achieved that and provided us with a glimpse of what future workplace will aspire to.”
Given her status in the Irish Interior Design industry, it is only natural we talks trends and according to Denise “Teal and Eclectic will be the buzz words of next year. It will be all about experimenting, mixing and matching and being different. Companies want people to be individual and express their style so do not be afraid to put your own stamp on things”
Denise was talking with Trevor, Digital marketer with Willie Duggan Lighting – for more information on their range of products visit their online shop.To learn more about Denise and her Architecture and Interior Design Business visit Optimise design