x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Designer Living: Orla Kiely's 'less is more' approach

For the Irish-born "queen of prints", simple is better, but there's always room to make a bold statement.

Orla's London shop shows off her signature designs. Courtesy of Orla Kiely
Orla's London shop shows off her signature designs. Courtesy of Orla Kiely

Where do you live?

I've lived in Clapham, south London for about 11 years now.

What is your home like?

We have a beautiful Victorian house. It's really light, airy and open.

What attracted you to the property?

I loved the garden, the location - it's three minutes from my studio - and the house itself. It was a bit of a blank canvas, which was great. We kept some of the original features but we've been creative with it, too. It's open-plan, with some mid-century touches, but we've kept all the Victorian features such as fireplaces and cornicing.

What does your home say about you?

It says that I love colour. It's not over-the-top, but there are little flashes of colour everywhere. It's quite a simple and uncomplicated interior and very me. I'm tidy in some areas and messy in others. I tend to hoard magazines and books.

I live with my husband, Dermott, and our two teenage sons, so I'm not obsessed with keeping things tidy, but our home's not too cluttered either. It's a good balance.

Do you incorporate your own designs in to your home?

Yes. I mostly design things I'd want to have myself. I have my own wallpaper and cushions and a lot of my own fabric designs are around the house - as curtains, for example.

Where do you like to shop for pieces for your home?

I buy a lot of vintage items. I'm a huge fan of 1960s Danish furniture. I go to quirky little shops that sell second hand pieces and I bid on eBay for unusual things. I adore Scandinavian designs, so often pop in to shops like Skandium.

Which item could no home of yours be without?

Our piano. We have a beautiful 1960s piano, which my younger son plays, and it's something I really love. There's nothing quite like being in the house and hearing him play music.

What inspired you to choose the career you did?

It wasn't a specific thing. Art and design were just what I enjoyed when I was a schoolgirl. It was a logical move for me to go to art college. I loved fashion and drawing; I was very lucky that I could turn my passion in to a career. I feel fortunate that I'm able to make a living out of doing something that I enjoy.

Who do you admire?

I love the textile designers of the 1960s, people like Lucienne Day, Barbara Brown and Philippa Grange. But I think the era inspires me more than individuals, in a way.

What are you working on right now?

I'm designing my Autumn/Winter 2012 ready-to-wear and accessories collections. I'm also expanding my homeware range. Soon we're introducing tabletop designs, more kitchenware and scented candles. We're building our lifestyle products but quite carefully - I want to make sure everything is simple. For example, the new scented candles smell natural and fresh. They're not fake or overpowering.

How would you describe your style?

I like simplicity. Less is always more. But I'm not afraid of playing with scale, pattern or crazy colours. I just make careful decisions about where to make statements and where to keep things simple.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be and why?

Dublin would be nice, to be closer to our family. It's where we're originally from. Or New York. I love that city.

How do you like to relax?

Cooking, going to the cinema and looking for inspiration at art galleries and museums. Shopping, entertaining, spending time with my sons or walking.

What's the best way to simply and instantly update a room?

Paint it. Change the colour, or inject some pattern with wallpaper.