At home with John Redmond, creative director of Brown Thomas

‘It is vital to work with someone who gets you and doesn’t impose their style on you’

 

Creative director of Brown Thomas for more than a decade and head of a team of 30 people, John Redmond has worked with the company for 33 years. From Carlow and interested in art from an early age, he won an art competition while still at school and his paintings were displayed in Haddons department store in the town. His first job was in Arnotts as a display artist before he moved to Brown Thomas in 1983. He is responsible for the current Crate Textile Project in store with 20 NCAD students in collaboration with Atretzzo mannequins in Barcelona which runs until June 14th. The first exhibition of his own artwork was a sell-out last November and he is currently planning a new show for later this year. He is married and lives in Dublin.

Describe your interiors style

We have lived in this house for so long and would have started with a white box, but now it has evolved as our life has evolved. I don’t like leaving things in the same place for too long – maybe that’s the influence of my work – but I do like clean lines though I am not precious about that. I like to be living in and surrounded by things that you have had for a long time, but also new things that are coming in. On holidays I prefer to stay in houses rather than hotels.

What is your favourite room?

The downstairs space. Our house is on two levels and as downstairs is completely open plan with no doors, we live in every part of it, so we use every bit of the space with the only divide a floating wall.

What items do you love most?

One is a painting that I did when I was 18 and it never comes down now. It was in my mother Nancy’s garage and we brought it back to Dublin and I like it more now. Because I move things around in my work I don’t know how many couches I have had, but we change them as much as we can. We now have two vintage wooden swivel tub chairs which I bought in a flea market in Paris years ago and then had refurbished. A powdery pink table with pink legs which I had made in highly lacquered metal is one of my own designs.

Who is your favourite designer?

Dries van Noten. I think his aesthetics and sense of colour are amazing and how he works with artists and brings them into his collections. Wherever his collections lands anywhere in the world, his stamp is on it. I love wearing his clothes – to me they are modern classics.

Who is your favourite artist?

The German modernist Walter Dexel (1890-1973) who was a turn-of-the-century painter and graphic artist. I never knew anything about him, but always loved his work and then I bought all his books. I only saw his work for the first time at an exhibition in MoMa in New York two years ago and loved it. I love the art of that period and the 1920s and the work of people like Charles and Ray Eames.

Biggest interior turn-off?

For me it would be houses that do not reflect the personalities of the people living in them. Interior design plays an important role, but it is vital to work with someone who “gets” you, understands your style and doesn’t impose theirs on you.

Travel destination that stands out?

Without question, Japan. Myself and Karen are just back from Japan and it is like no other country I have ever been to. It is really calm and the sense of design is incredible and their manners are impeccable. We went to Tokyo and then Kyoto to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. It was my third time there.

If you had €100,000 to spend on any item for the house, what would that be?

If I had an Irish list, I would love something by the artist and lighting designer Niamh Barry. I think what she creates will be museum pieces in the future.

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