Words by Conor Biggins 

In 2020 designer Tricia Harris swapped the hustle and bustle of Dublin city life for the draw of country living in Co. Kerry. A diverse designer from the start of her journey, Tricia has worked on projects ranging from home furnishings to arctic yacht design. I caught up with Tricia on her practices to date and how she’s continuing to grow in the West of Ireland.

How did you get started in design?

My interest in design started when I was young. I was always making things at home in my Dad’s workshop and loved the experience of creating with my hands. My school offered woodworking and I was lucky to have an enthusiastic teacher. This combined with very supportive parents, encouraged me to make the mad decision to study furniture design at Letterfrack. The passion for design in Letterfrack was phenomenal and helped shape my design practices. I then moved to Dublin where I lectured in design and rented a space at The Chocolate Factory, a Creative Arts Centre. In 2020, thanks to the lockdown, I decided to move back to Kerry, and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made. It’s allowed me to refocus on my work and connect with so many of the other designers in the West of Ireland.

What inspires your work?

From a young age I found the way shapes interact very interesting, and that’s been the inspiration for many of my pieces. Lately, I’ve been exploring different materials and allowing that to inform my designs. For example the way chords, shaker tape, and other fabrics interact with wood has started to grab my attention. I’ve recently been inspired by a sort of Japanese craft and Irish Heritage fusion. I’m looking at past Irish designs, the character of them and what makes them such beloved pieces of a home and combining that with joinery and techniques used in Japanese craft. More broadly speaking, my eyes are always open to my surroundings. Often I’d plan a holiday around creative hubs, going to design shows, or meeting with other designers, even those outside of furniture. All this comes together to inspire my work.

What is your creative process?

It starts with listening to my clients to understand what they’re looking for. After that it’s on to pen and paper where I explore what’s possible. I enjoy how creative I can be at this stage and tend to generate loads of different concepts some of which I will turn into 3D models. Then I contact a maker, who in turn will come back with a price. After that it’s a continuous back and forth between the maker, myself, and the client. We all work together on the finer details finding ways to improve the final product and cost.

Read more in the May/June issue of Galway Now, on shelves now.