Design/Life: Brothers’ design flair takes wing

Design/Life: Brothers’ design flair takes wing
Philip and Dave McLaughlin, of Grey Heron

Philip McLaughlin is the co-owner of Grey Heron

What’s your background? Myself and my brother, Dave, have a background in business and marketing. I’ve been in the family business for eight years now.

Our grandfather set up a pharmacy and farm store 70 years ago and then opened Bandon Craft Centre across the road on Bridge Street in 1978.

Dave lived in Dublin for 13 years working in project management and events until he moved down three years ago to join the business.

Even though we don’t have a background in design, we always had a keen eye for it and know what we like. We’re also very lucky to be surrounded by great designers and makers.

We rebranded and revamped Bandon Craft Centre last April, which included the name change to Grey Heron. We’re absolutely delighted with how it turned out, and people have responded very positively to it.

It was a real boost for us as well when we were announced as one of the Top 30 Finalists in the AIBMS Retail Excellence Awards late last year. The list is announced by Retail Excellence Ireland annually and it meant a lot to see our efforts as a business recognised in this way.

Design/Life: Brothers’ design flair takes wing

What’s a typical workday like for you? A typical workday would always start with a coffee to get into us gear!

On from there, it is really varied as we work across the family business including the pharmacy, farm store, and Grey Heron.

We try to focus as much as we can on developing all aspects of our business and adding value to our customers.

Tell us about a recent project you have worked on?

With the rebrand and revamp of the store last year to Grey Heron, we felt it was time to give ourselves a facelift and to broaden our audience by creating a new identity.

The Skylight Gallery was on the second floor over Bandon Craft Centre and it was a fantastic space for artists to exhibit their work, but we felt it wasn’t accessible to everybody.

With that in mind, we brought the gallery down into the shop to increase visibility of the artists’ work while adding to the customer experience within the shop.

Regarding our brand, we worked with local graphic designer Nina Cáit Gilbert, from

We came up with the name as the grey heron is synonymous with the Bandon River.

We’re really delighted with what Nina came up with and we feel it’s a very marketable brand.

Our interior ideas came from a blend of people around us. Artist Joanne Neville and Claire Graham from the Old Mill Stores played a huge part.

We also took trips to different design shops around the country and abroad to get inspiration. Macroom-based carpenter Seán Burke did our cabinetry.

Design/Life: Brothers’ design flair takes wing

What’s your design style?

Simple and contemporary.

What inspires your work?

There’s so much artistic and creative talent in Ireland making amazing things and we love working with them.

We also feel that the high level of design shops around Ireland really inspired us to create Grey Heron.

What’s your most treasured possession?

This is very boring but it’s my work diary! Working across different business types can bring its challenges and you can be quickly spun around into chaos if you’re not organised!

Who is your favourite designer?

There are too many to only list one. I love the work of printmakers Lily Corcoran, local man Shane O’Driscoll, Emma O’Hara, Luke Reidy, and Aoife McLaughlin (that’s a cheeky plug there for my wife!).

Design/Life: Brothers’ design flair takes wing

What would be your dream project?

We’d love to add to the experience of the shop eventually by adding a creative space to the building for artists and makers to work.

Have you any design tips?

Declutter, keep it simple, and don’t be afraid to try something off centre!

Interview by Aileen Lee

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