I love everything about 20th century design, Charles and Ray Eames, and, of course, our very own Eileen Gray, Carol-Anne Leyden, director and co-founder of CA Design, tells
What’s your background?
I worked in sales and marketing for more than 10 years, two of which were spent in Honduras, working on the launch and roll-out of Denis O’Brien’s mobile network, Digicel. When I returned home, I was excited about the idea of setting up something on my own. I always had a leaning towards interiors and design, and I felt there wasn’t much in the interiors market that related to me and my stage in life — I didn’t want Ikea, but I also couldn’t plump for the high-end designer furniture that was around. I spotted a niche in the interiors market and looked into bringing furniture into Ireland that was inspired by Mid-Century design classics. In 2012 CA Design was born.
What’s a typical workday like for you?
My day starts with me checking in with the Chinese suppliers on production, orders and shipments. If I miss that morning window, I lose a day with the time difference, so it’s crucial I’m up at 6am. After a morning of kiddie chaos — I have two girls under two — I try and get a walk in to clear my head, grab a coffee, and aim to be at my desk by 10am. As CA Design is a bricks-and-mortar business, an online shop and an interior design consultancy, a typical day can mean a trip to the warehouse, liaising with any of our 20 brands on orders, a meeting with an architect or interior designer or a team meeting with our two in-house interior design consultants on current projects.
Tell us about a recent project or design/favourite project or design you have worked on?
One recent project I loved was with the amazing NBK Architects on a building in Merrion Square. The entire building was gutted from top-to-bottom, and CA Design helped to create room concepts and provided the furniture for each space.
What’s your design style?
My personal style is like the ethos of the CA Design — it’s a fusion of pared-back Scandi-cool with an appreciation for retro, mid-century design classics with lots of colour thrown in. I like every piece of furniture to have something that really makes it stand out. I think every piece of furniture in a room should almost make you do a double take.
What/who inspires your work?
I love everything about 20th century design, Charles and Ray Eames, and, of course, our very own Eileen Gray. I also have a leaning towards the post-war, American art movements, from abstract expressionism to pop art. These days, I’m inspired by interior design blog and Instagram page, Green & Mustard. But really, I get inspiration from all around me — it could be contemporary architecture, or even walking around a city appreciating its varied design and aesthetics.
What’s your favourite trend at the moment (if you have any)?
I prefer things that stand the test of time, but in saying that, I do find all the gorgeous chalky shades of pink appearing in interiors these days something that catches my eye.
What’s your most treasured possession?
It’s hard to choose one, but there’s a Richard Gorman print my husband bought me when we first met. I could stare at its stunning colours for hours.
Who would be your favourite designer, or style inspiration?
I really admire Kit Kemp — her unique style and mishmash of colours, pattern and texture are simply to die for. She sees the most unlikely combinations come together in ways that shouldn’t work, but always do. I was blown away by the Crosby Hotel in New York.
What would be a dream project for you to work on?
Hands-down a boutique hotel. There’s something so appealing about putting a real stamp on a place from top-to-toe and being able to decorate so many different types of rooms.
Have you any design tips for us?
Let your seating take centre stage, opt for a sofa in a bold colour, or let a beautifully-designed chair be the anchor to your room. Don’t buy things because they are trendy — surround yourself with design that makes you smile or feel good around. Always put your own personal stamp on your interior or exterior.