The doyenne of Irish interior design Roisin Lafferty loves to create exciting and unexpected places.
For our new series of designer interviews with established and up-and-coming stars – the Last Word – I chat with the Irish interior designer Roisin Lafferty. I met Roisin in Dublin, when I was editing Image Interiors & Living magazine and she was briefly my intern.
Dynamic, determined and with a confidence way beyond her years, she blew me away. It was no surprise when she left soon after to set up her interior design company. And she was only 24.
Today the award-winning designer juggles projects across continents and she’s only just getting started…
How Kingston Lafferty Design started
When Roisin and her friend Suzanna Kingston started their company, Kingston Lafferty Design, the Irish economy was in the doldrums. The building industry was in tatters and design jobs were scarce. But it was a risk that paid off handsomely. “Ireland’s recession forced my hand a bit,” admits Roisin. “Even getting work experience was difficult, so I started the business to help build my portfolio.”
Roisin and Suzanna, who both completed master’s degrees in product design at, coincidentally, Kingston University, London, needn’t have worried.
Work flooded in and the business grew incredibly fast. Too quickly, perhaps, and Suzanne left after three years as she found it incredibly stressful. “I was too stubborn to walk away,” smiles Roisin, who today employs 16 people and enjoys all design challenges – from private homes and residential developments to commercial spaces and revamps of picturesque Irish bars and hotels.
Creatively led and uncompromising, the design company has taken on a couple of large projects in the UK, including a manor house outside of London. And they’ve also been asked to design a series of branches for The Malin in the US – a co-working brand for creatives. “It’s a real design challenge as each one has to be different and concept specific,” says Roisin.
Roisin is a fan of Ilse Crawford and Australian interior designer Fiona Lynch – “she’s my current crush, her work is so restrained and bold at the same time.” But her company doesn’t have a house style. And this means the work never gets boring. “I love dreaming up the ideas,” she says. “Collaborating with a large group of specialists and seeing a project come to life is a real high.
“I’m genuinely passionate and excited about each job. I’ve really enjoyed working on The Farm, a huge residential design in Ireland, where we’ve had full freedom with all the interior architecture including the design of a sweeping three storey staircase. It’s been scary but so exciting at the same time.”
Today, Roisin is creating her own design magic at Murray’s, a traditional hotel on the beautiful windswept island of Inis Bofin, off the west coast of Ireland. “It’s a real passion project for me as it belongs to my godmother’s family,” she says with a smile. “It’s where I’ve been going on holiday since I was a child.” And she’s also bought a tumbledown cottage in Roundwood, a very pretty village in Wicklow, that she’s slowly renovating in between projects.
What the future holds…
Next up for Kingston Lafferty Design is an online shop selling their furniture and lighting designs, but it’s a work in progress for now. We’ve no doubt it’s going to be a huge success. Roisin’s certainly got the determination and portfolio to prove it!
Photography: Ruth Maria