A taste for understated elegance: Angela Connolly, president of the Interiors Association of Ireland

Angela Connolly: Creative director and owner of Conbu Interior Design

What’s your background?

I worked in telecommunications before I retrained as an interior designer. When I qualified, I set up my own business, Conbu Interior Design.

This was during the recession, so my expectations and costs were low initially, but I have built up my business since then and work out of my interior design studio in Dun Laoghaire.

Describe your workday

I could be project managing onsite; meeting a client; at the studio; with suppliers; or at a training event. There is such a variation in tasks from designing interiors and furniture, to sourcing or learning about new products. I also travel to national and international trade shows to keep up to date on trends and meet new suppliers.

I am president of the Interiors Association of Ireland, a support network for individuals working within the interiors industry. This does take up a lot of my time, but I work with a great committee who all have the same goal — to make the Interiors Association the go-to place for anyone looking for an accredited interior designer or interior architect. We have just completed a rebrand and our new website will be coming soon!

Tell us about a recent or favourite project or design?

During one of our most recent projects we removed numerous sets of internal double doors and replaced them with pocket sliding doors. It ensured the space, which was previously behind the doors when they opened, could be used. We also designed and installed custom cabinetry for storage, a home bar, and media unit. I loved coming up with the concept and working with the tradesmen to deliver something my clients are delighted with.

Design/life Kitchen by Conbu Interior Design which featured in the Ideal Home Showhouse.

What’s your design style?

My personal design style is understated elegance with luxurious finishes and sumptuous textures. I prefer a minimalist style with clean lines, geometric patterns, lots of textures, symmetry, and with a calm colour palette.

What/who inspires you?

I am inspired by my travels and love exploring markets, interior stores and taking photos of great architecture all over the world. I was lucky to have travelled extensively before I changed career and I continue to travel for inspiration.

Your favourite trend?

I love the Crittall trend. The steel-framed windows, doors and screens allow you to partition off open areas to create contemporary zones within a space without compromising on light.

The slim steel frames are unobtrusive and can give a retro or industrial feel.

What’s your most treasured possession?

My health and family. In 2002, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I was lucky to get a treatable form of cancer. My son was only two years old at the time.

The treatment was tough, but I had a fantastic oncologist. It does make you look at your life differently and value what is important. My son is 18 now and just finished his first year at art college.

Design/life Bedroom detail from Conbu Interior Design.

Who is your favourite designer, or style inspiration?

I think Eileen Gray, the self-taught architect and furniture designer, demonstrates you can do anything if you are passionate enough. My favourite pieces by her are the Bibendum chair and the adjustable chrome and glass table. I also admire Kelly Hoppen, Zaha Hadid, Kelly Wearstler and Philippe Starck.

Your dream project?

I am a member of the Irish Georgian Society. I would love to work on a Georgian property with a large modern extension. I would fill it with art, antiques and modern classics.

Have you any design tips?

I’d recommend engaging an interior designer at the start of the project, once you have the architectural drawings.

An interior designer can design the space including the kitchen, bathrooms and when the builder starts, they will know the location of waste pipes etc ensuring they can get on with the job without any costly delays.

Design/life itchen design by Conbu Interior Design.

House 2019 takes place at the RDS from May 24-28. Angela Connolly, and Interiors Association, will host free design clinics at House advice.

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