“There is no such thing as an inanimate object. Everything carries energy, good or bad.” —Clodagh.  

Irish-born designer Clodagh is a celebrated interiors mogul. Born and raised in a house where Oscar Wilde once lived – Clodagh has travelled a long way to arrive where she is today, in more ways than one. Since leaving high school at seventeen and setting up her own company, she has revolutionised the design world. Her professional trajectory has been committed to remain true to herself and to produce life-enhancing and inspirational designs.  

As far as her design ideology goes, she passionately believes that good design can support well-being. Having coined a term for it, she calls her design style ‘Life-Enhancing Minimalism’. Her plan is informed by energetic exchange, considering all humans as flow-through systems that let things flow into them while also studying changes in people’s body language as they move through different environments.  Growing up in Ireland’s deep countryside, surrounded by nature’s light and colour, and people who were healers and storytellers, such a concept is innate. Her pioneering use of healing modalities, both ancient and modern, incorporating Feng Shui (the Chinese art of positioning objects for smooth, strong energy flow), wabi-sabi (the Japanese philosophy of celebrating imperfection and transience), biophilia (the life-enhancing love of natural elements, bio geometry (the pure pattern information of natural systems)), and chromotherapy (the use of colour to enhance healthy and harmonious frequencies in the human body) has enriched her projects with an unmistakable look, structure,  and flow that rightfully appeals to all the human senses.   

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Clodagh’s philosophy ©Steve Freihon

In a New York City apartment building that includes a large fitness room, resident dogs, and party rooms, a quiet room is very welcome- an acoustically balanced room offers space for residents to indulge in a silent retreat, either through meditation simply reading a book.   

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Clodagh’s philosophy ©Eric Laignel

For the lobby of Abington House, a huge rental apartment building in New York City, a 17-foot-long Urban Dog bench is created, cast in terracotta concrete, to greet new arrivals. a light installation hangs above the bench, made of clusters of acrylic tubes, to create a pause, so the energy doesn’t stream straight through the door.” 

Widely recognised as a pioneering leader in the green design movement, she aligns herself with companies who also embody this ethos, as well as fostering relationships with companies who strive to contribute philanthropically to their communities. Owing to all the moving in the prior years, she came by her minimalism early, developing a loathing for clutter and confinement. In her new book, Clodagh: Life-Enhancing Design, Clodagh lists the “Four Cs” of her design process, which she uses for every space, regardless of its size or significance: contemplate, clarify, create, and cleanse. 

Talking about one recently completed project, Six Senses Kaplankaya, a five-star hotel in Turkey, she describes it as a “rocky, craggy moon garden with flowers that release their fragrance as the moon rises and look like holograms at night.” Guests arriving at the resort walk through a lantern-lit portal and wooden doors into a sky-lit lobby, which views the property’s remaining four floors and the sea. The guestrooms use a yellow hue, while indigo, ochre, and turquoise are incorporated into the colour schemes. Light, sound, form, and colour are all employed in the hotel’s design to service the vision that arose for it during the 4-C process. 

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Clodagh’s philosophy ©www.clodagh.com
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Clodagh’s philosophy ©www.clodagh.com
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Clodagh’s philosophy ©www.clodagh.com

A passionate believer that a good design supports wellbeing, the aims of sustainability and life-enhancing minimalism are ones that she holds dear.  In November 2012, for renovation work with Miraval, won the grand prize for best spa in the Golden key awards for excellence in hospitality design. Capturing the spirit of place by curating contextual colours and textures, the spa is a perfect balance of country house glamour and contextual comfort. In the meditational walkway, which leads to the spa, all senses are addressed. The courtyard of the spa incorporates all the Feng shui elements of earth, water, fire, wood, and metal. The spa stood out because the guests felt pleasure, comfort and nurturing while also being stimulated and connected to nature. 

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Clodagh’s philosophy ©www.clodagh.com
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Clodagh’s philosophy ©www.clodagh.com
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Clodagh’s philosophy ©www.clodagh.com

The idea is to work with the effect of space on the emotions- and not just design a space, but to create an experience. While addressing her idea of luxury with Mansion Global, Clodagh commented, “I’m all about low-maintenance, luxurious comfort; embracing authentic and sustainable materials, stand the test of time and make you feel good. That’s luxury. Everything should have a place with meticulously-planned storage. For me, total design is a true luxury—where all the senses are addressed and celebrated, and all the elements are incorporated. Everywhere you walk, everywhere you look, you should see something beautiful. Luxury is having a gym in your building, a sauna in your building—that it’s all there for you and that daily wellness opportunities are made possible by simply living there.”   

Her work has been recognised with numerous awards and accolades over the decades, including Architectural Digest’s Top 100 Interior Designers, the Interior Design Hall of Fame, and induction into the prestigious Hospitality Design Platinum Circle.

Manvi Saki
Author

Manvi Saki is an Architecture undergraduate at NIT Jaipur. She believes in designing experiences- big and small and thus her love for words. With a revoked love for reading and her passion for travel, she hopes to go places (sometimes literally) with her writing.

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