Those skills were to come in handy when my wife and I restored a derelict 200-year-old thatched cottage in Leitrim where Yvonne’s dad was from.
We worked with a conservationist architect, a mud builder and a master joiner, and between us brought that cottage back to its former glory.
When originally built, they would have used materials within walking distance, and we did the same — even using local mud for the cob floors. When we couldn’t find lighting that we liked, I started to create my own using the materials onsite, essentially old timber beams and copper piping. People loved them, and there began Copperfish Lighting.
Yvonne now works fulltime with Copperfish, and while this time last year I would have been responsible for getting the kids up, fed and off to school, Yvonne now does that, and I can get into the workshop for about 8.30am.
I generally do admin first thing and go straight into production after that. We are preparing for Showcase Ireland which is an opportunity for us to get in front of national and international buyers. We’re really looking forward to participating.
Before lockdown, I worked on a project for an iconic Dublin pub, The Market Bar. It’s a beautiful building, and was, among other previous incarnations, a sausage factory, and it still has a lot of the original features including the old steel trusses in situ.
They asked me to create a bespoke lighting fixture that would tie in with the existing interior. We designed an installation of giant Edison style lightbulbs in different shapes and sizes suspended by natural hemp rope wire.
The lights weave around and between the trusses and hang at different lengths and it creates a beautiful atmosphere, especially at night-time. The look is industrial which ties in with the building but is softened with the natural rope and the type of bulbs we used.
I like simple, clean lines and symmetry. My newer lamps are certainly more architectural in their style, but I would hope to continue to evolve as a designer, as I think that’s important.
I like to think that by bringing the timber back to life that I’m sharing its story.
I would say that all my heroes are storytellers — that’s probably the common thread. I do all my designing with the headphones on, listening to Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits or John Prine. Even my two favourite artists are storytellers — Marc Chagall and Carel Weight.
We put a lot of effort into making sure all aspects of the business are as sustainable as possible and if that’s what consumers value then that’s good for everyone.
My dream project at the moment though is to get the showroom in our workshop finished!
What can make the difference is the light bulbs used – make sure that the bulbs are not harsh as that can be unattractive and hard on the eyes. Our bulbs are retro Edison style but amber-tinted and LED, so you get all the benefits of eco-friendly lighting but with a soft candlelight glow.