Interiors Designer Gráinne McGarty


mcgarty design roc group interior


Tell us  a little about yourself.

A Dub who spent many summers in the countryside with a keen interest in drawing and looking at wild flowers.

What fires your imagination, what things take your breath away?

At the moment North Leitrim takes my breadth away. Nature re-emerging with it’s smells and sounds. I like to photograph my surrounding and old buildings, taking note of interesting textures that could be applied to an interior space. Visiting art galleries and museums are constant source of inspiration.

How did you get into design, was it something you always wanted to pursue? 

Theatre and Set Design was my initial focus and the course was Environmental / Spatial design. Design is a very varied area but I specialised in Interior architecture whilst also studying Furniture, Set design, Exhibition design and Fabric printing. I loved the different stages of interior architecture and trying to grasp the technical drawing aspect to it, and model making which I came to love. The fabric printing element was exciting too, starting with sketches and bringing that image to fabric using screen printing.

What is your favourite part of the design process?

All of it, with the exception of the sometimes tight schedules ! I enjoy meeting clients, whether they be shop owners or business owners/ managers. So many can be very passionate about their businesses and their field. Observing how they currently use a space and how we can work together to improve it. I find it fascinating how the small details of a clients daily routines can inform a design. After this I love the development of ideas, sketching, forming the technical drawings to ensure it all works from a spatial point of view. I still get a real kick from being on site and the smell of fresh plaster !

 In what way does interior design differ from architectural design?

Interior Design /Architecture is really the remodelling of an existing space where architecture in the main is creating new buildings. The projects can vary from designing an office starting with an empty shell with no walls, or working with an existing space. Interior environments are very dependant on the materials used to create a particular atmosphere in tandem with lighting which is also critical. The flow of movement within a space is the key to it’s success. Increasingly, as we spend more time indoors in our work environments it becomes important to analyse the relationships workers have and the interplay of functions within the spaces.

Which designers do you admire?

Many designers have inspired me over the years. Finnish architect Alvar Aalto is one who gave consideration to all elements within a space. I spent time in Finland and visited some of Aalto’s building’s and it has stayed with me. His attention to detail from lighting design to the handle one touches entering a building produced a people focused design approach. Another was Zaha Hadid who died suddenly just a few weeks ago was an architect of incredible vision, and her hand drawings with unbelievable. Another is Eileen Gray, who is now receiving well deserved recognition for her contribution to architecture and design.

Any design form you dislike or think is bad design?

Lighting Design is an area lacking in many interior spaces I feel. In many cases, particularly residential design, the rooms of the house are placed incorrectly in terms of orientation. It is important to maximise natural light during the day. Artificial light can dramatically alter ones mood within a space, and the correct colour temperature of lamps is key. I have worked on several healthcare projects recently and found this to be an area that was lacking. Colour is also an area which very often receives little attention in interior schemes and can be highly influential to our mood and use of the space.

What cities are your favourites from a design/ architectural perspective?

Berlin and the Potsdamer Platz which is a collection of buildings by different architects creating a new quarter, with wonderfully exciting spaces. Another city I love is Venice where the layout has informed the way the city is used. Having to walk around with no cars and the related noise and pollution creates a special atmosphere and wonderful public spaces.

How does Ireland rate in this perspective and in particular, rural towns?

Irish Architecture is in a good place with lots of interesting work carried out over the last 20 years. I suppose it needs to filter down to smaller towns. A Town Architect has proven to be a huge asset to towns such as  Westport. A master plan with a vision for the town, focuses the energies of community groups and business owners. Also a design template with regard to design guidelines for shop exteriors and signage is a helpful tool for a small town to ensure future development adheres to the overall plan. Cork County Council produced an interesting document 15 years ago specifically related to housing and is an interesting guide to planning new housing. 

Is there any Irish building/Street or town you would love to re-design or alter in some way?

One that comes to mind immediately is the main street of Sligo which I would pedestrianize and populate with trees, shrubs and flowers. Seating could then be brought out onto the street for cafes and informal gatherings,creating spaces to linger.

Talk us through the design process from initial consultation to seeing your vision in 3D.

I meet a client and view the office, shop, hotel etc and walk through the space getting a sense of problem areas. I then establish a design brief where client’s requirements are listed. From here I develop a concept scheme with sketches and then onto a design scheme and at this stage there are several meetings to establish the definitive layout. Three Dimensional Visuals are an important part of the presentation method either hand drawn or computer generated. A technical drawing package follows to tender the project and appoint contractor or trades people as appropriate. Finally building work commences, with site visits and visits to joinery work shops and other suppliers. Very often projects are rolled out over several years so it’s important to have a strong vision for the project at the start.


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