Work is more fun for interior designer Garry Cohn

This week Aileen Lee speaks to interior designer at Cohn Designs, Garry Cohn.

What’s your background?

I am an interior designer. I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City. After that, I attended the City Community College of New York (CCNY) to study architecture.

After a few years freelancing, I wanted to venture further, so I bought a one-way ticket to Paris and spent two years working there. I then moved to St Thomas in the Virgin Islands for a year, before moving back to New York.

I landed a job with Hasbro Toys. I worked for them on Toyfair where I would have to design 50 rooms based on a board game and they were all linked.

The job was amazing for creativity. I was with them for three years. I worked with FIT as an adjunct professor at the same time.

After that, I had my own company in New York and then I moved to Dallas. I took an international job as a design director working on shopping centres.

One project I worked on was Blue Water in London, and on that trip, I had some days off. I wanted to see if I could find some work in Europe.

I found a company called Douglas Wallace, and I came over to Dublin and met with Hugh Wallace. I’m very grateful to him, because he hired me and brought me to Ireland.

Then the recession came, and everyone started to do their own thing, and that’s when I started my own company. From there I opened my second company which I am in now, and that’s COHN Design.

Our projects look expensive, but in fact, we are very reasonable and budget-conscious. This is, I think, makes us a great design company.

What’s a typical work day like for you?

I wear many hats – I work with the designers, I am a salesperson, I work on our social media, and I also attend meetings, so I’m multi-tasking more than I ever was before.

Tell us about a recent project or design you have worked on?

We have created a free online design magazine, called I Scream Cohn. It’s available on our website. It’s about cause and effect. We present global events that evoke a reaction and how design responds.

In the first edition, we touch on the movement we are in now which is ‘Transitional’, where you have one foot in one period and one foot in another.

The way you know this is happening is because there seems to be a contradiction, or a clash, for example, in what we are wearing – we haven’t let go of the 20th century — versus the technology we have from the 21st century.

What’s your design style?

I have a thread that runs through my style and that is colour. I like to play with it, and I love the way people respond to it.

What/Who inspires your work?

The inspiration for my work is random. I get my best ideas taking a shower. Also, dreams and dreaming – I’ll wake up and there’s an idea right there.

What’s your favourite trend at the moment (if you have any)?

What trends tell me is what not to do. If you see it in a magazine, it’s too late.

What’s your most treasured possession?

I have a card I got from a friend many years ago. It means the world to me. It simply says: ‘Follow Your Bliss’. This is how I live my life and I take it with me wherever I live.

Who would be your favourite designer, or style inspiration?

Vivienne Westwood — she is a talent beyond belief.

What would be a dream project for you to work on?

I would love to design a 1950s/early 1960s-style boutique hotel in the Caribbean that celebrates that period, with a little twist of today.

Have you any design tips for us?

People are very afraid of design. Just be yourself. The easiest way to do it is to go through magazines and tear out all the things you like.

Then you pare it down to 10, and then from there pare it back to five.

From the five, you’re going to see that you have a style, and then you can see that you can combine those different flavours together.

See Garry Cohn's work over on the website, on Instagram, and Twitter.


More in this Section

From making his son a Peppa Pig cake to his grandmother’s cheesey semolina, these are Yotam Ottolenghi’s food memories

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival: What are mooncakes and why is it traditional to eat them?

How do you speak to an older family member about when to stop driving?

This is the best eyeliner for your eye shape according to a make-up artist


More From The Irish Examiner