Orla Kiely at home: there is no excuse for magnolia walls

The London-based designer loves her 1970s stove and bookselves made from a single tree

Orla Kiely in her London home

Orla Kiely in her London home

 

London-based Orla Kiely is Ireland’s most successful designer internationally whose reach extends beyond fashion into interiors, ceramics, wallpaper, furnishings, footwear, accessories, watches, umbrellas, fragrance and more. Known as the Queen of Prints and famous for her stem motif, hers is a world in which pattern reigns. Her label, founded with her husband Dermott Rowan 20 years ago in London, is now a global brand sold all over the world, with two flagship stores, one in London opened in 2005 and the other in New York opened in 2012. Her book Pattern was published by Conran Octopus in 2010. She lives in a Victorian house in Clapham with her husband and two sons Robert and Hamish.

Describe your interiors style: I think my style is graphic, quirky meets mid century and colour mash up. That is then arranged in an organised and considered style. I like to commit myself to strong ideas – there is no halfway house.

A place that inspires Orla Kiely: the Hotel Budir, Iceland
A place that inspires Orla Kiely: the Hotel Budir, Iceland

Which room do you most enjoy? I love a kitchen for obvious reasons, it’s the heart of the house and where the family congregates. My kitchen is a happy room, all about people and food with lots of colour and pattern.

What items do you love most? My Malm stove from LA. It’s a version of the original Preway Stove from the 1970s. I was excited to discover when stove hunting that they are still made today. Another favourite item is my bookshelf made from a simple tree trunk. This shelving unit originally travelled with the Irish Crafts Council and when they told me they were selling it, I grabbed the opportunity. And my two Ernest Race chairs which were a lucky find on eBay – I love the mixture of metal and wood.

Orla Kiely at home: shelving unit bought from the Crafts Council of Ireland
Orla Kiely at home: shelving unit bought from the Crafts Council of Ireland

Who is your favourite designer? I love Miuccia Prada – her clever, beautiful and playful spirit wows me every season. I also love Ettore Sottsass and have been revisiting his amazing catalogue of work from both before and after Memphis.

Which artists do you most admire? Ivon Hitchens, Terry Frost, Breon O’Casey, Margaret Mellis and Ben Nicholson, all connected to St Ives, the artists’ community in Cornwall.

What is your biggest interior turn off? Magnolia walls. There are so many other great neutrals or even colour – there is no excuse.

Which travel destination stands out? Iceland. It is somewhere so near, yet like going to another world. I loved the interiors we came across from the simple country style of the Ensku Husin guesthouse near Borgarnes, then going further west to Hotel Budir, a stylish hotel like a chic Scandinavian ski lodge at the foot of a great volcanic crater.

Vanessa Bell’s The Other Room on display at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London
Vanessa Bell’s The Other Room on display at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London

If you had €100,000 to spend on any item for the house, what would you buy? Having just seen the Vanessa Bell exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery here in London and having always been a fan of the Omega workshops and Bloomsbury group, I would love to have any of her paintings – a dream!

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