Roisin Lafferty is the Founder and Managing Director of Kingston Lafferty Design an award winning Interior Architecture and Design House. Since founding KLD, Roisin has earned enormous respect and recognition across the construction and interiors industry in Ireland and across Europe for her contribution to design.
Roisin started her business during the height of the recession in 2010 out of what she says “was necessity”, she has worked on some of the most exciting design projects in the city including Iconic Offices, Urbana and Pot Bellied Pig.
Like many of the #WomenWeLove we have interviewed Roisin is a huge supporter of women in business, with an all female team in house and she is also part of the Going For Growth alumni who she credits as giving her a “crash course in business education”.
We chatted with Roisin about KLD, her top design tips and which women in business she admires the most…
How did you get your job?
I created it…. and built it with sleepless nights, lack of experience, naievity, blood, sweat and tears….. but mainly with laughter, incredible friends, mum and blind creative determination!
I studied in Dublin and London, worked extremely hard and came top of my class in both my DIT Interior architecture and Furniture degree and my London Product + spatial design MA. This was the only thing I wanted to do so I put all my eggs in one basket! Graduating in the height of the recession meant that design options were limited.
I wanted to work in London but despite good grades, needed experience too. I started KLD initially as a platform to gain experience, never intending it to become my life in the way it has. Years went by and I couldn’t bear the thought of doing anything else or of walking away so I set off to create a team of talented individuals so that we could grow and get the work we wanted.
And what did you want to be aged ten?
A lawyer…. too many American TV shows I think! My Barbie dolls lived in a fictional New York penthouse apartment that I designed…I also used to run art classes for friends in my house…. I was a rather bossy and creative little one!
How does Kingston Lafferty Design stand out from its competitors?
First and foremost, we are creatives. Creativity is everything to me. It informs how I live my life, who my people are, where I eat, sleep, travel etc. My team takes a very creative approach to all of our work and never compromise on the conceptual or design integrity regardless of budget, project limitations or other.
I have sought to remain genuinely excited, challenged and to enjoy what I do everyday… and have now built a team of people that appreciate that and want to be part of it. Our diverse team comes from all over the world bringing influences and experiences to KLD.
We collectively play a part of ensuring our designs are the best they can be and that we give our clients something genuinely new and creative. We want to be as proud and excited by the whole job and the end result as everyone will be when they experience their new spaces.
We take influences from many creative avenues, not necessarily interior designers or architects. I think to remain exciting and unexpected, it is crucial to constantly be inspired, to travel and to take inspiration from the art world, installation art, fashion and travel.
I want to continue to create fantastical and unexpected experiences that tantalise peoples senses and surprise and delight.
As a female entrepreneur, what were the biggest challenges you faced setting up the business?
Fear and lack of confidence in business. I was always confident in design and knew that was all I wanted to do. But I was very intimidated by the idea of running a business and establishing myself and my vision in the business world.
I have learnt a lot of very tough lessons over the years, but have had the privilege of having a huge amount of support and meeting a lot of very inspiring people along the way, who continue to guide and support me as KLD grows.
What range of services does KLD offer?
Interior architecture, Interior design, creative direction, interior decoration and styling are our main services. However we see design as a way of thinking and looking at the world with less distinctlion between the different disciplines. We work with a lot of our commercial clients throughout the design process, often considering brand impact and marketing materials to enhance and compliment our interiors.
We also design custom furniture pieces and fixtures within the spaces we create. I love to be involved in the overall creative direction of a project from idea generation to completion and photography styling.
What does an average day look like for you?
It is seldom the same. As we work `across many sectors, our projects range from large scale office design, hospitality and hotels, residential developments, one off houses, retail, showrooms and beauty. We generally have a complete mix of things on the go and dependent on the various stages the projects are at, I could be brainstorming with the design team, client or potential client meetings, conceptualising presentations, activating exhibition stands and events, pitching, having design crits, public speaking or my favourite of all attending various sites and sourcing and buying product.
As well as that, we style all of our spaces and work closely with a selection of photographers for marketing of the brands we work with. So never a dull day at KLD!!
Currently I am writing this on the flight back from London, as we have a number of jobs over there at the moment. It is a very exciting and diverse job, not one for the faint hearted I guess, but I couldn’t have it any other way….. I get bored very easily!
You recently teamed up with DFS sofas. How did the collaboration come about?
I have been working with DFS for a number of years now. It is a collaboration that has evolved and keeps developing creatively the more that we do together. They have such a large range of beautifully design led pieces and we work with them in a very creative way to showcase new ways to see their collections and how best to use them in your own home.
What can we expect from the collection and do you have any favourite pieces?
We work on pop up installations with them and have some exciting projects in the pipeline.
My favourite pieces would be the Eden sofa in dark green velvet (currently residing in our KLD HQ meeting room) and the French connection Zinc cuddlier in navy soft leather is also dreamy with mid century design influences.
What are your go-to sources for creative inspiration?
Travel, travel, travel! I travel a lot for inspiration. Marrakech has my heart when it comes to colour, playfulness and atmosphere. I try to vary where I go, and frequent design fairs in Milan and Paris. I keep notes in my phone of all of the places I want to visit and store all of the places , new eateries, hotels, installations and galleries so that I can create an itinerary when I go. Nothing refreshes the creative mind and gets you back feeling excited like travel, new experiences, new perspective and meeting new people.
I also have a selection of my favourite designers from around the world including Ilse Crawford, Dimore Studio, Patricia Urquiola, Jaime Hayon, to name a few. I try to keep track of the exciting things they are doing and visit their spaces as much as possible.
Also I have an obsession with instagram. It is the best way to discover new brands and artists and find fellow creatives. It also helps find the best spots and gems for all the travelling!
What are your top three design focused Instagram accounts to follow?
Architectural digest Spain
What women in Ireland, or Irish women abroad, do you most admire?
Louise Phelan – I had the pleasure of having Louise as my mentor as part of Going for Growth. She is an incredible inspiration to me as a successful international and independent business woman. Her direct and confident approach to business is so refreshingly honest, straight forward and cuts through all of the unnecessary business jargon that you see so much. Now a good friend, her words have been so supportive and inspiring.
Louise Kennedy + Simone Rocha – Two very different but equally outstanding fashion designers who have made their creative mark in a highly competitive field, internationally. Their exquisite attention to detail, professionalism and overriding love for creativity and design have seen them grow and be awarded internationally and stand the test of time, continuing to push their work and processes. They are both huge inspirations to me.
Breege O Donoghue – One of the most stylish ladies I have the pleasure of knowing. This woman is a business and creative power house. I don’t know how she does it, but she manages to continue to inspire a generation of women in business with style, elegance and grace.
Jill + Gill – Two absolute creative gems moving at a million miles per hour. These ladies are so fresh and exciting to me. They are both so warm and open and a true sign that females should support each other and work together. Firm believers in the power of creative collaboration, their work and authenticity continues to inspire me.
What are your top three beauty essentials?
La Roche Posay factor 50 daily face sun cream
Clinique beauty flash balm
Yes Saint Laurent Touché Eclat – For hiding those tired eyes!
What are you favourite ways to keep fit?
Pilates, Pilates and more Pilates! I do a mixture of types, from reformer to power Pilates, ballet barre and cardio so that it is different all the time. Not only does it keep me fit, it is the best way too start my day on a positive note and to clear my head after a long day. Nothing seems as bad after a session with Hannah Buckley (who I have named ‘the ballerina’) Her positivity is infectious! I also love adventuring around Ireland. Nothing clears the head like a cliff walk.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Definitely a night owl. Although my mornings start at 6-6.30 everyday, it never seems to get easier! I am a firm believer in the old saying ‘all work and no play….’ so I like to have adventures, am a festival lover and generally love socialising with friends so late nights play quite a part in my life!
What’s your morning routine?
Try not to snooze the alarm, but generally do… so wake in a frantic flurry before rushing out the door to Platinum Pilates with roommate and best friend Becky. A stop off at angelinas for a strong coffee; a healthy bowl of porridge with nut butter and fresh berries in the office at 8 and I’m good to go.
Where are your favourite places to eat and drink in Dublin?
Anywhere that has been touched by the genius that is John Farrell. His concept based restaurants provide a full experience like none other, where every aspect is considered; from the beautifully curated interiors, signage, graphics, menus, staff uniforms, to the cocktails and the charming and entertaining staff. He provides service like no where else. Luna and Hang Dai are great, sad to see Super miss Sues gone.
Also a massive fan of what Dylan McGrath does and is continuing to do. The different experiences on each level is such a great way of creating eateries and makes the experience so much more exciting, not to mention the changing menu and food (especially that in his ‘Taste at Rustic’ spot). Really on a sunny day in Dublin, the rooftop bar of Fade Street Social is still impossible to beat.
What’s your greatest food pleasure?
I’m rather indecisive so it really depends on my mood. Variety is the spice of life…. and I tend to make people share things with me so I don’t get food envy! Guilty pleasure is ice cream… the best I have tasted was burnt sage ice cream in one of New York’s most renowned ice cream parlours…. Morgensterns ice cream is almost tasty enough to get me back on a plane!
If you could tell your 16 year-old self anything what would it be?
Stop trying to fit in. Relax and be true to yourself…. I wasted far too much time trying to be the same as everybody else!
Can you share any plans you have in the pipeline?
Developing an exciting new sector to the business, can’t wait to share it with you all soon!