Aileen Lee meets Pearse Caulfield to talk life and design.
What’s your background?
Caulfield Joinery was established in 1978 by my father, John Caulfield.
It was a highly successful business producing quality hardwood kitchens, windows, doors and furniture. I joined the business from a young age.
Due to a downturn in the economy the joinery business slowed down considerably. We saw a niche in the market for locally crafted wooden boards for cutting and serving, which are both functional and beautiful.
Our products are now stocked in several shops and we supply restaurants, bars and cafes with a wide range of wooden dining accessories.
What’s a typical workday like for you?
I split my time between meeting with the buyers of the over 100 retailers that we supply, meeting with suppliers, and slotting in wherever I am needed.
Tell us about a recent project or design?
Our latest range, the Native Collection, has been a real joy to work on and has thankfully been a huge success for us.
This range is inspired by our natural landscape, and has been lovingly hand-manufactured using home-grown, hardwood flaming beech.
Adorned with original artwork by our sister Deirdre, it combines traditions both old and new to portray the beauty of Ireland.
What’s your design style?
Our contemporary tableware and kitchen accessories are practical, charming and innovatively designed.
Our philosophy is that each design is both functional and beautiful while sustainably concious.
What inspires your work?
My mother always told me that “necessity is the mother of all invention” so firstly we identify a need for the products we are designing.
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Here's another collaboration with another great Irish company @teeling_whiskey We were asked to design and make hardwood walnut flights for tasting their range of whiskeys. The rich combination of walnut and whiskey through both smell and aesthetically is second to none. #irish #shoplocal #craft #bespoke #quality #maker #food #gift #foodie #homeware # giftware #kitchen #home #tableware #design #natural #sustainable
Then, as all of our pieces are to be on display on your counter or table all year round, this aesthetic is refined through a series of critiques from everyone involved in the business.
Your favourite trend?
We really enjoyed the industrial trend that came into the market over the last few years. We designed a series of pieces with this in mind — such as our wine rack range — by incorporating copper piping into the pieces.
What’s your most treasured possession?
When I was finishing my trade, I worked alongside an older man that had worked all over the world and when I was leaving he gifted me a pocket knife.
This has been in my pocket every day at work since.
It has been lost and found several times and was even accidently packed into our first big order going out to the USA, of which there was about 30 boxes — luckily it was found in the first few we had to reopen!
Who is your favourite designer or style inspiration?
With my background in joinery, I worked on many projects on listed Georgian buildings which has influenced my design style.
Also, as we are relatively new to the retail side of the market we look at the way other great Irish companies, such as Waterford Crystal and Belleek Pottery, do things.
Then you have to put your own stamp on things and because our products are made from a natural materials, we take a lot of inspiration from the countryside.
What would be a dream project for you to work on?
We are working on a dream project as we speak.
Both I and my sister Louise, who works in the business, are alumni of Trinity College and we were approached by the college to work on a project with them.
This entailed taking away trees from the college that had fallen or had to be taken down.
This timber had to be put through a number of processes to get it to a point where it was usable.
We are now at the stage where we are beginning to design and make the Trinity Timber Project range, made from timber taken from Trinity by alumni of Trinity to make products based on the heritage of the college itself.
Have you any design tips?
Approach things with an open mind and don’t be afraid of criticism.