Design/life: Denise O’Connor, architect and managing director of Optimise Design

When you are planning a refurbishment, it can be easy to forget about things like coat storage, laundry room, linen cupboards, says Denise O’Connor.

What’s your background?

I worked in London for eight years and my last job there was with a company who combined architecture and interior design. 

Much of the work was on residential developments – we were involved in everything from the layout of apartments right down to the fit-out of the sales and marketing suite.

When I moved back to Dublin, I realised there was a gap in the Irish market to offer a similar service, so Optimise Design was born.

What’s a typical workday like for you?

A typical day might start with a call-out to meet new clients. When I get to the office, I run through the day’s events with the team. 

I spend the rest of the morning going through new enquiries and replying to emails.

I like to spend the early part of the afternoon on research and the rest of the afternoons are normally full with meetings. 

I leave the office at about 5.30pm to be home as close to 6pm as possible. I do have the odd event to go to in the evening, but I try to make it home before the boys go to bed.

A kitchen designed by Optimise at Killiney, Co Dublin.

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

Being asked to put a paint collection together for Dulux was wonderful. Being a presenter for Design Doctors, the TV show for RTÉ, was also great fun. 

It challenged me to think about design in new ways which was fantastic.

What’s your design style?

We don’t have a house style at Optimise Design but rather try to tailor each of our designs to suit the needs of clients.

What/Who inspires your work?

I draw inspiration from everywhere and anywhere, from radio interviews to shop window displays. 

We try to collaborate on our design projects and have group creative meetings where everyone can chip in on any of the early stages of the project. It keeps the process fun and fresh.

A hallway at Foxrock, Dublin where cafe creme colours are brightened by blue encaustic tiles. Again, a mirror is used to refect light back into the hallway.

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

I was at Maison & Objet, the interior design trade fair held bi-annually in Paris, in January. It’s the benchmark of interior style for the coming year. Blush was everywhere. 

It’s a really beautiful shade, a pale pinky peach nude tone. It appeared in everything from textiles to tableware. It was used as a wall colour and also featured in flooring.

What’s your most treasured possession?

Both of my boys were really small when they were born and were given tiny knitted hats in the hospital. It’s incredible to think they ever fit them – they’re more like egg cosies than hats.

Staircase and hallway in Sandymount by Optimise. The yellow stripe on the stairs carpet lifts a subtle grey composition.

Who would be your favourite designer, or style inspiration?

I love the work of Patricia Urquiola – she’s a Spanish-born architect based in Milan. Her work is beautifully crafted and elegant, and spans buildings, interiors and furniture.

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

I loved my work with Dulux and would love to create my own paint range, or even a furniture range some day.

Have you any design tips for us?

When you are planning a refurbishment, it can be easy to forget about the less glamorous elements. 

Things like coat storage, laundry room, linen cupboards – without properly planning these areas, your beautifully designed home will soon look chaotic.

A child’s playhouse in the Sandymount home.

www.optimise-design.com 

www.instagram.com/optimisedesign/?hl=en 

www.twitter.com/OptimiseDesign 

www.pinterest.com/optimisedesign 

www.houzz.co.uk/pro/optimisedesign/optimise-design 

Know Your Home Truths: An evening with Optimise Design for house buyers and renovators takes place at 6pm on Tuesday, March 14 in the Merrion Hotel, Dublin.

To book, visit www.optimise-design.com 



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