Pieces of me: Ruth Monaghan, florist
‘I dislike poinsettias and lilies – as all florists do – and the smell of lilies’
Ruth Monaghan at home in Sandymount, Dublin: “I love texture and colour and Nordic simplicity and I believe that a home should be really comfortable and warm.” Photograph: Eric Luke
From Rosses Point in Sligo, florist Ruth Monaghan began her career in television production after studying commerce in DCU, experience that stood to her when she launched her floristry business in 2004. In between, she worked in Brown Thomas for a year and travelled to Australia. However at 30, she decided to retrain as a florist in McQueens floristry in London. She remained working in London for a year before returning home and setting up Appassionata Flowers from her home on Londonbridge Road, quickly establishing a reputation for supplying beautiful creations to restaurants, hotels, the fashion industry and private customers.
Her Drury Street shop was opened four years later and she now also conducts classes from her studio behind Westland Row “where the flower magic happens”, she says. Married to Ultan Devaney, the couple live in Sandymount and have two young children.
Describe your interiors style I love texture and colour and Nordic simplicity and I believe that a home should be really comfortable and warm. When you work in a cold environment as I do, it is good to feel a sense of warmth when you step in the door at home. So I love rugs, blankets and cushions, but I also like to change things around from time to time – I am used to remerchandising the shop regularly.
Which room do you most enjoy? We have two main rooms in the house divided by double doors, one for the children and the other is our sitting room. This is essentially filled with pieces of me – like a table by Sasha Sykes, illustrations, lots of books that I love and little pieces of ceramics that I tend to collect. It’s a comfort room.
What items do you love most and why? Little 3D cool and quirky narrative pieces captured in small frames by the London-based Irish architect Irenie Cossey. They are a bit of fun and also sell in our shop for Christmas. I love the dandelion paperweights – dandelions in resin – which I first saw in the Paul Smith shop and then discovered where they were made. I have a beautiful porcelain piece by Isobel Egan called the Journey Within which is set in a blue frame.
Who is your favourite designer? There are so many designers that I like and I get inspiration from people in other disciplines – John Rocha is a particular favourite for his interiors and Ilse Crawford, who brings beauty into everyday items. In fashion, Simone Rocha is very informed by her father’s vision and she is pushing the boundaries in terms of Irish design and bringing it slightly left of centre. I am very inspired by Marc Newsom’s approach to design; my main Christmas present last year was his fabulous tome Works, which shows his process from pencil to product. I also think that the late Peter Johnson was way ahead of his time in his aesthetic approach to interiors and his way of juxtaposing all types of colour and form.
Which artists do you most admire? I went to see the Georgia O Keeffe exhibition in London but what I loved were her later photographs when she moved to Mexico, which are quite dark and very ground-breaking for a woman of that period. People tend to assume that because I am a florist that I would be drawn to her floral paintings. I also admire the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama who created infinity rooms in a gallery in Shoreditch and polka dots – my children loved her work. The Irish artist Diana Copperwhite’s use of rainbows I love and the photographs of my sister Yvette Monaghan in the recent Vue Contemporary Art Fair at the RHA .
What is your biggest interior turnoff? Staged interiors, when owners have not put their personal stamp on their homes and have overt elements that look more like hotels than homes. There is no expression of personality. I also dislike poinsettias and lilies – as all florists do – and the smell of lilies is something I dislike. Lilies are controversial – you either like them or not – and we only send them out if people ask for them, so we keep a low stock.
Which travel destination stands out? This year we took a long holiday to the Greek islands, to Andros and Paros, in late June. I loved the way they integrate little bursts of foliage on tables like sage or lavender and the simplicity with which they are presented. We loved the food and all that bright light and you are surrounded with blue all the time.
If you had €100,000 to spend on any item for the house, what would you buy? A cocktail cabinet by Zelouf & Ball, particularly since I have got into making cocktails. A piece of furniture by Joseph Frank for Svenskt Tenn from Sweden, which is timeless, very Swedish and very beautiful. I first discovered their furniture through their fabrics.