Clodagh of Clodagh Design is widely recognized for her unassuming yet luxurious design aesthetic as well as a philanthropic and sustainable approach to business. Having founded her design firm in New York City in 1985, Clodagh has consistently remained at the forefront of design innovation. She has built a reputation for work informed by the environment and a belief that good design supports well-being.
One might say Clodagh demonstrates a holistic approach to design – understanding the connection between environment and mental and physical prosperity. Clodagh’s portfolio includes interiors spanning over 24 countries, with a focus on eco-conscious projects.
As well as design, Clodagh’s studio encompasses art consultancy, product collaboration and design and an integrated philanthropic branch. Discover more about our LUXList Designer’s inspiration and aesthetic! See her favorite pieces from RubyLUX.com.
Clodagh’s LUXList Picks
Describe your design aesthetic in a few words?
Life-enhancing, wellness-centric, low-maintenance-luxury design.
What do you love about using antiques in your designs?
I like to use antiques like old tools or old bowls or old vessels that were used for cooking or cider making in a previous life. I like to use antique drums as wall pieces. When designing the Six Senses Resort and Spa in the Douro Valley, I used an object called a trio- it is for winnowing grain when you’re separating the leaf from the top. I also love using old photographs and reproducing them in a kind of faint black and white to bring in a sense of the past. I believe in low-maintenance, authentic materials that stand the test of time. When designing the Six Senses Resort and Spa, we made sure to use local artisans and locally-sourced products, many of which were ancient, found in markets or via local artists.
There’s a Spanish antique which I love that is called a bargueño, which is a traveling desk. Very beautiful but very simple. And a lot of the antiques I use end up actually being inspirations for new and totally contemporary designs. I love to use these old things that were used for something else, be it old photographs or antiques- like antique farm house tables that contain all the happiness of the good meals that were served on them. They (antiques) have stories to tell.
I use the ancient modality of Wabi sabi- it is a state really more than a method. I also incorporate other ancient modalities such as feng shui and Biogeometry (which date back to the pyramids) on all of my projects. Wabi sabi, which is the Japanese celebration of the natural aging of things, can be used in a really contemporary place to give people a sense of grounding. I create wabi sabi finishes by using acids and rakes and different tools.
What inspires you?
Everything. The world around me inspires me- traveling, escaping to upstate New York, photography…. Everywhere I walk I can find something to trigger a memory or a smell or something nostalgic. It inspires me to travel in the back of a car, having somebody else take care of driving while I’m thinking. Cooking inspires me tremendously because cooking is like a fast forward design in a sense- in an hour, you could be using spices and ingredients from maybe 20 different countries. While I am cooking memories of the country are provoked. I find cooking incredibly inspiring. Cooking, like almost no other thing I do, triggers my inner video to the country where the spice or the mix comes from. Fragrance inspires me, like the wild roses I saw just this weekend.
What can you never have too much of?
Love and laughter and chocolate. And wine. And tequila.
If you could design for a fictional character who would it be and why?
I would design for Oscar Wilde. Not only was I raised in his country home, I have such an affinity for his writing and works. In Lady Windermere’s Fan, he describes a person who knew the price of everything and the value of nothing, which means that he must have understood the value of everything.
Internationally acclaimed designer and philanthropist Clodagh passionately believes that good design supports well-being and that it can transform people’s lives. She feels that clutter can undermine Serenity, but minimalism should not be self-denying. The experience of entering a Clodagh designed space is one of blissful harmony. She is noted for her “life-enhancing minimalism.”
A believer in the tenets of integrative medicine, which addresses the entire body and psyche as a whole, Clodagh embraces both ancient and cutting edge methods in an effort to comfort not only the body but also the mind. She was among the earliest adopters of Feng Shui in her design practice. Clodagh is always ahead of the curve by incorporating such cutting edge modalities as chromotherapy and biophilia, while including comfort, into all of her projects.
Perhaps because she originally hails from the “Emerald Isle,” Clodagh was “green” long before it became the movement it is today. She aligns herself with partners who also embody this ethic, and she fosters relationships with companies that strive to contribute philanthropically to their communities. She is recognized as a leader in sustainable design for her authenticity in materials and use of natural elements that enrich her projects with unmistakable warmth and beauty, and appeal to all the senses.
Raised in Oscar Wilde’s summer home in County Mayo in Ireland, Clodagh has been a constant force in the design world since her beginnings in couture fashion at the age of 17. She expanded from fashion to overall design when she moved her business from Dublin to Spain. She opened up her design studio in New York City in 1985, and in 1986, with two partners she opened Clodagh Ross Williams retail store, an avant-garde design business celebrating American artisans and artists.
One of the world’s leading innovative multi-discipline design practices, Clodagh Design’s award-winning portfolio spans over 30 countries and a wide range of eco-conscious projects and products that include million-square-foot hotels, residential buildings, international spas, private residences, restaurants, retail stores and showrooms, offices, women’s apparel, cosmetic packaging, branding, furniture, home furnishings, healthcare and even private jets and luxury yachts.
Clodagh oversees four distinctive business divisions:
Clodagh Design International, the interior, and architectural design studio are responsible for international commercial, residential, retail, healthcare and hospitality projects.
Clodagh Design Signature, the licensing and product design division, is known for a wide range of eco-conscious products including furniture, rugs, lighting, tiles, bathroom accessories and fixtures, bedding, hardware, textiles, tabletop, carpets, cosmetic packaging, and fashion.
Clodagh Collection, the online gallery showroom, is dedicated to Clodagh’s licensed products and curated resources by artists, artisans, and sustainable vendors.
Clodagh Art Consultants provides art curation to all Clodagh Design projects and beyond. Clodagh’s wide web of artists, artisans and galleries collaborate closely on custom installations and the identification and procurement of fine art from resources worldwide.
Clodagh’s groundbreaking work has captured a steady stream of accolades and awards from international media and her peers. Clodagh was inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame and Hospitality Design Platinum Circle; Architectural Digest has named her among the Top 100 Designers in the World; The Robb Report put her in their Top 10 Interior Designers in the World, and Traditional Home magazine calls her one of the Top Twenty Design Icons. Fashion Group International made her 2010 Star of the Year, and Contract Magazine selected her W Hotel Fort Lauderdale as 2010 Hotel of the Year.
In addition to her residential interiors for many of the “rich and famous,” Clodagh has recently completed the interior design for such prestigious projects as The Miraval Resort and Spa in Arizona; East Hotel in Miami, Florida; The Abington House and The Caledonia in New York City; the Citizen 360 condo building in New York City, the Seychelle in California and the Six Senses Hotel and Spa in the Douro Valley, Portugal, which was named one of the world’s top hotels in 2016.
No “lip service” philanthropist, Clodagh devotes much of her spare time to helping others. She truly believes in personally giving back to the world’s communities, and is relentless in her international fundraising for those in need. Through ClodaghCares.org, she tirelessly supports the Thorn Tree Project, educating children in the nomadic tribes of Northern Kenya. Since 2002 Thorn Tree Board Member Clodagh has led the international fundraising efforts for the education of 1500 young girls and boys of the semi-nomadic Samburu tribes, along with Thorn Tree’s founder Jane Newman, who works on the ground in Kenya. The fundraising to date has provided schools and dormitories for twelve pre-schools and three elementary schools. Now for the first time, Thorn Tree is putting some of these worthy young students through college! The sale of each one of The Thorn Tree Breakfast Bracelets sold around the world provides breakfast every day for a Thorn Tree student for one full year. Clodagh also supports Ape Action Africa, one of the largest primate sanctuaries in Africa. A thousand visitors a month come for tours of the sanctuary and learn about conservation, deforestation and the innocent orphans of the bushmeat and the illegal pet trade. Clodagh also supports the Azama project, which fosters education in the developing world. She believes that education feeds the mind and is the right of every child through which the world will become a more prosperous and harmonious place.
Clodagh has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including the Manny Steinfeld Humanitarian Award at the Platinum Circle Gala in late 2016. She serves on several New York and national boards of directors.