Pieces of Me: Stylist Niamh O’Rourke
‘I’ve never found myself before in a space like Ett Hem hotel where I lusted after every item around me’
A textile graduate of NCAD, Dubliner Niamh O’Rourke is a stylist and fashion journalist. In 2014 she set up the Chalk Creative Agency with ex-A wear creative director Caroline Reynolds, a business that helps companies communicate and connect primarily through designing interesting and beautiful spatial environments, experiences and installations. Branding and visual communication play a big part and Chalk clients include Primark all across Europe, Bord Bia and Roller.
O’Rourke is married and lives in Dublin with her husband and two children, ages eight and six.
Describe your interiors style: Very diverse. And that diversity is part of my background in styling and creative direction for so many different brands where I have never concentrated on one particular look. At home I love a neutral canvas with shots of colour and considered texture and some minor Scandi influences. Finish and attention to detail are key, but everything is about children and work. It’s an old Victorian house, but I am always drawn to the back, which is south facing.
Which room do you most enjoy? Light is hugely important to me and when we renovated the house we converted the attic and extended it to be a totally separate extra floor and it is an idyllic work space. It is really quiet and flooded with daylight through its skylights. For me it is head space and like a nest.
What items do you love most and why? My Arne Jacobsen Series 7 swivel chair in green suedette. It is something I love and use every day because it is so well designed, beautiful and comfortable. Also my Maison des Vacances silk curtains, bright colours trimmed with raw linen which I bought about 12 years ago – it’s an old Pucci print from their archives. Their colours are incredibly bright and lovely to wake up to first thing in the morning. A recent buy was a George Jensen candleholder from Makers & Brothers, a contemporary take on a classic shape – I often have a candle burning.
Who is your favourite designer? Ilse Crawford, her whole ethos, is my main influence at the moment because she is all about the human experience, what it feels like to be in a place and not just the visual aspect. The fact that she used to work on magazines also connects with me. Lucinda Chambers, fashion director of British Vogue, has always sparked my imagination and her style has successfully survived through all the changes of this new age.
Which artists do you most admire? My personal choice for my home would be the young Australian painter, Kirra Jamison, for her use of colour – I spotted her in Australian Vogue. Her work is not necessarily deep or meaningful but there is something very joyous about her beautiful paintings and I would love to have one of them. I also love when retailers embrace good artistic collaborations like Le Bon Marche in Paris with Ai Wei Wei last year, when he used traditional Chinese kite-making techniques to create huge mythological structures for the windows and in store.
What is your biggest interior turn-off? Lack of consideration for the human experience of a space. Spaces work better when they have a sense of warmth, feel welcoming or relaxed. When space is considered only in terms of its visual effect, it fails in my opinion. A beautiful room in a magazine isn’t necessarily a beautiful place to be in. What contributes to a good interior space is how it is used and touches of nature or simply the feeling of interesting textures.
Which travel destination stands out? James and I went to Stockholm last October. It was where I had always wanted to go for a long time and ever since I’ve been obsessed with the Ett Hem hotel designed by Studioilse where we stayed. It wasn’t just the hotel interior, which to me was design perfection, but everything about it from the personal service to the well thought out food. Each of the 10 rooms, all of which are different, came with a gorgeous guide with the owner’s personal recommendations of “lovely things to do in Stockholm”. I’ve never found myself in a space like Ett Hem before where I lusted after every item around me.
If you had €100,000 to spend on any item for the house, what would you buy? Two things on my wish list (which wouldn’t add up to such an amount) would be a Studioilse brass cabinet by Jack Trench which is a three-door fully panelled oak cabinet in reflective brass. Also a Pelican chair by Finn Juhl completely upholstered in shearling, two pieces of furniture that were in the hotel bedroom.