Designing out of desparation with architect, artist and interior designer Róisín Murphy

Róisín Murphy: Architect, Artist and Interior Designer.

Róisín Murphy: Architect, Artist and Interior Designer.

What’s your background?

I did a degree in architecture in Bolton Street. After that, I worked in architecture and design.

When I became a mum, I had to suspend a certain amount of work.

I had such a passion for architecture though, that I couldn’t separate completely from it, so I started drawing buildings around the area I live in. That’s how I started my art.

Then I went back to art college, and started working with my hands in different mediums, like clay, wood and steel, and that changed everything for me.

The immediacy of art and the ability to control it or to express it at a smaller level gave me more confidence when I went back to do design.

When Coco TV called me about Desperate Houses, the show had components I found really attractive: it had a social issue, and it had to do with interacting on another level with people in design.

Peter, the builder involved, is extremely good, so I knew there was a real opportunity to do innovative stuff. Also, I loved doing the work against the time.

We were shooting for August, September and October, so it was a very tense period, but Coco TV are a well-oiled machine. They knew exactly what they were doing, it was me who was going ‘em’!

Episode 4 of Desperate Houses saw Bridget and Jack’s house in Clonmel, transformed after Roisin’s renovation of their kitchen and diningroom, seen here and left.

What’s a typical work day like for you?

More recently, typical work days had to do with the programme. I was also working with Brenda O’Donoghue on a Christmas Lights competition for charity, so that brought me down the country visiting houses.

Normally though, I would get up, walk the dogs, feed the children, make lunches, shut the door and ignore the filthy house and either go to college, or if I’m preparing for an exhibition, go into the back garden, beside the kitchen and work there.

I’d work solidly until somebody demanded food or a lift. Everything still works around family life.

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

Desperate Houses was just incredible. There was a huge energy on that team from everybody. It was a wonderful experience, and to be able to help people was lovely.

What’s your design style?

I don’t think I have a design style, partly because I think it would be too narrow for me. I respond to people and context, and the desire to elevate ordinary objects to something beautiful.

What/Who inspires your work?

Irish architecture inspires me – it has been the steadfast theme in all my work.

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

The trend for colour intrigues me, and how it’s going to go, because colour and architecture also relate to the economy – to a certain extent, the absence of colour for the last 10 years has been reflective of our nervousness within the economy.

There was a moment where everything was going back to colour. I thought that there was going to be a massive colour revolution but there still seems to be a pull-back to the industrial chic look, and people are going to metals more. I find that interesting.

Artwork entitled ‘Foundlings’ which was part of Roisin Murphy’s installation at the Botanic Gardens earlier this year as part of the Sculpture in Context 2017 exhibition.

What’s your most treasured possession?

Is it terrible to say my house? I absolutely love it — it’s not a particularly big house — but when I come home to it, there’s something about it.

Who would be your favourite designer, or style inspiration?

I loved Zaha Hadid, the architect. She was a huge inspiration for me all the way up through college.

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

I would love to do a design range. In a dream world it would include a range from Waterford Crystal, the loss of which is still incomprehensible to me.

They were a niche high-end, craft-based industry that should never have been allowed to die. Its name immediately offered images of Irish skill and quality, without explanation.

Have you any design tips for us?

Measure a room — draw a room on a plan, and measure your furniture. Don’t go into a shop and think ‘will it fit?’ Always draw out and plan first, and plan to buy rather than try and fit it in.

‘Sucker punch’ by Róisín Murphy which was made from Irish carved oak.

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