True characters


John Kaye,commercial interior designer

Designing for the hospitality industry is. . . a career that has allowed me to live and work all over the world. It is rarely boring, sometimes frustrating but ultimately satisfying.

At the moment I am working on. . . two bars in the States and an exciting project redesigning the FX Buckley chain of restaurants.

Recent projects I have worked on. . . Mount Falcon Hotel, Co Mayo; Brasserie sixty6, Dublin; The Magpie Inn, Dalkey.

The specific challenges they presented were. . . trying, in an overcrowded market, to create unique environments that cater for quite specific customer profiles, that will stand the test of time.

Things don’t always go to plan. . . In major refurbishments of old buildings, unforeseen structural problems can arise during the course of the development and limiting their impact both financially and visually can be testing.

The new trends in restaurant design are. . . natural materials combined with strong colours built in a crafted way to compliment the quality of the food.

The next big thing in the restaurant business will be. . . field-to-table, and the importance of the provenance of the ingredients. While this is beginning to grow in Ireland, I have just spent a week eating and drinking my way around New York, where even modern Japanese restaurants like Momofuku list on the walls the farms from where the food is sourced.

Comfort or wow factor – which is most important?...Comfort. Wow factors can be a big draw initially, but on repeated visits they can often be like being told the same joke over and over again.

It gives me a buzz when. . . I sit in a finished project and watch customers and staff engage with the space as I imagined.

I love what I do, except when. . . I have to spend an inordinate amount for time chasing new suppliers for quotations and information – this is particularly bad here in Ireland. Managers, get your sales teams motivated!

If I wasn’t doing this I’d. . . be running my own music festival.

When I’m not working .. . I’m thinking about work. Recent travels to Tokyo, India and Europe inevitably ended up becoming dining odysseys.

My dream dinner party guests would be. . . John Peel, Marylin Monroe, Hunter S Thompson, Steve Earle and David O’Doherty.

And I’d cook them. . . anything by Yotam Ottolenghi that I can get all the ingredients for.

Five things I always have in my larder are. . . chocolate, Guinness, garlic, ginger and Worcestershire sauce – but not always in the same dish.

My ideal day off is spent. . . either up a mountain near my cottage in Connemara, or sharing a meal with good friends, eating, drinking and laughing.

I’m passionate about . . .music. It has always been there as a soundtrack for my life and I am constantly amazed that there is still new music appearing that blows me away.

I’m really good at. . . thinking on my feet and solving problems.

I wish I was better at... flying. It’s no fun for me anymore.

I often imagine myself. . . DJing in front of 2,000 people.


In conversation with Marie-Claire Digby

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