From his first Light (recycled from a Russian vacuum cleaner) to the award winning steel structures of the Wild Atlantic Way discovery point. Shane designs with inspiration from the nature of Ireland’s Boyne valley.
What is the essence of Shane Holland Design?
I try to be flexible and to listen to clients, create ideas that match expectations, and try to add individuality to a project by not being scared to try things out. We try to create items of beauty and functionality.
You have had an impressive design journey since 1991 – what were your first products?
My first light was recycled from a Russian vacuum cleaner, which was given a base and had a spotlight at the top of a wobbly pole. It ended up getting demolished on stage by my friends the band “Whipping Boy” in Dublin when they “borrowed it”. The first production design was our Babel light, which was like an inverted “Tower of Babel” and made in Irish glass and bronze, which we initially made for a Dublin based hairdresser David Marshall.
How do you approach designing furniture and lighting to get them both right?
I don’t find the disciplines to be so different but just have different functional requirements. With lighting you have to look at materials and reflectivity to get a good drama in the piece in which you also need to have good balance. When creating furniture you need good balance in terms of posture and structural issues. I rarely get everything right first time; sometimes it takes continual development and new editions to get everything right. It took 5 years for me to fine tune the ‘Stule’ for example.
What does it mean when you describe your products as ‘Inspired by nature’?
Inspired by nature is such a general term but it means when you look at nature, rocks, the sea, trees or branches you can be inspired to use things as you find them or just spark off an idea from natural ideas. For example our Ruray desk light, which was inspired by waves and waveforms. The Ghost of Ash lamps were inspired by simple ash branches integrated into lamps and tables or our Sea Clocks use rocks from different parts of the Irish Coast featuring differing geology.
How do you balance longevity with trendiness?
I always strive to use good materials and invest build time in trying to create longevity. If the balance in the design is correct then trendiness does not really come in to it. Some people may latch on to it as a trend. I don’t really worry about trends as I am often both in fashion and out of fashion at the same time.
What advantages do you offer as a company that is able to take a product from concept to design to production?
The reason we really value our workshop facility is that it is the route for us not to just design but to experiment and produce and deliver projects. We were able to design and make the recent lights for the famous Harland and Wolff Drawing offices in Belfast where they designed and made the famous Titanic ship. We listened to the client’s requirement of lights, which replicated the originals from 1910 but also added some new sophisticated features. These were monitored right through design manufacture to delivery and installation for the Titanic Hotel due to open in Sept 2017.
You have created awards for many leading brands. How does designing an award differ from furniture?
Awards are more sculptural in nature and we have sometimes less functional concerns
but they have to look good and be created to reflect the nature of the award be it design, science, architecture or music. Awards are about recognition and celebration so everybody wants to get one but they are carefully designed to give longevity to a ceremony via good design.
Is there an international audience for your brand?
I don’t really know if I have a global audience, but with the Internet and communication anybody can see and buy your product and fortunately we have sent our objects to many countries. As a business I do have to work hard to create an audience by exhibiting abroad. In essence I do think that I have a unique offering and some people react to that wherever they may be.
You collaborated with Diem Pottery on lighting for Eneko at One Aldwych Restaurant in London. What other collaborations can you share with us?
We have recently worked on the Wild Atlantic Way discovery point featuring the Marconi Station and Alcock and Brown transatlantic landing site in Conemara as a collaboration with Denis Byrne Architects where we built Steel structures in this rugged landscape to interpret this historic industrial site for both Radio and Aviation History. We were delighted that this won Best Place award in the RIAI Architecture Awards 2017. The Titanic Hotel Project Belfast was also exciting and we are constantly collaborating on projects with architects, entrepreneurs and companies to bring things through to reality. We also worked with Ciara O Toole of Amelia on an aviation project to make furniture from airplane parts such as the desk from a Boeing 737 engine. This desk now resides in the business School of Edinburgh University.
Your company is based in the Boyne Valley of Ireland – what’s the area like for visitors?
The village of Duleek where I work is over 1500 years old and has 4 stone high crosses and an old Abbey. The Boyne Valley is known as the heritage capital of Ireland having the ancient Passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, not to mention Tara, the seat of the High Kings of Ireland so it is a good area to visit if interested in history. The area has some interesting castles such as Slane Castle and is still quite close to Dublin so suitable for a day trip or a bit of shing or kayaking if visiting.
Find out more about Shane Holland Design: www.shanehollanddesign.com