Sharon Cleland: When Irish Eyes are ‘Designing’

(When we overheard our Irish colleague, International Designer Sharon Cleland, mentioning that she grew up right next to the mountain that St. Patrick himself lived on for six years – we immediately knew we needed her Irish edge for a blog post the week of St. Patrick’s Day!)

Hello everyone and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I want to take a moment to share some of my favorite Irish scenes and how they translate into elements of interior design. The rich tapestry of the landscape from the textures of the rugged countryside, peat bogs, cliffs and seascapes to the velvety, mossy fields, century old dry stacked stone walls and meandering country roads all seem to somehow translate into elements that can be used in design.

Tweed Landscapes and Velvet Hills

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Taking just a glimpse at this picture you can see the influence that the landscape undoubtedly had on the creation of tweeds.  The color scheme, texture and patterns all mirror the Irish countryside.

Rugged Irish landscape

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Felted tweeds look like patchwork hills of planting fields!

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And these rolling hills in the Glens of Antrim look like the could be covered in velvet!

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Irish Arans

Seeing herds of sheep, or even experiencing a sheep induced traffic jam are not uncommon occurrences in rural Ireland. The wool of the sheep has allowed the country to produce some of the most beautiful woven goods in the world for centuries, including Irish Arans. Irish Arans, also known as ‘fishermen’s sweaters’ are made of wool that was traditionally undyed and cream-colored. Originally the jumpers were knitted using unscoured wool that retained its natural oils which made the garments water-resistant  and meant they remained wearable even when wet.

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I see the complex woven patterns that are found in the Irish Arans in so many domestic products including, throws and even ceramic pieces.

Retail Montage

Both the throw and ceramics pictured above are available in J Banks Retail!

Stacked Stones & The Giants Causeway, County Antrim

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The Giant’s Causeway has always been inspiring to me.

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And the century old piles of irregular meandering dry stacked stone walls will always remind me of my home.

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Being stateside I am reminded of these Irish elements in the most unlikely place – during tile selections! The geometry and permanence of tile in certain shades just seems so Irish! Like this stone mosaic (above), and this Carrara honed hex mosaic tile (below).

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I hope you have noticed some uncanny similarities and will consider Ireland for a moment as much more than just the land of leprechaun’s and shamrocks!

Irish Blessings,

Sharon Signature

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Sharon Cleland, International Designer

P.S. This is a picture of the area near County Antrim, Ireland where St. Patrick is said to have worked as a shepherd while a slave.  You can read more about St. Patrick here.

Atmospheric Slemish scene

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1 Comment

Filed under From the Designers

One response to “Sharon Cleland: When Irish Eyes are ‘Designing’

  1. David Randall

    I recall seeing many a, “dry stacked” stone wall in rural New Jersey and other parts of New England as well wile hiking about in wooded areas that were once pastures but are now overgrown with 100 years of trees.

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