My Weekend: I get to meet interesting people, visit amazing spaces and talk design all day

My Weekend: I get to meet interesting people, visit amazing spaces and talk design all day

My Weekend feature Cork Echo

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

Originally from London, we moved to Achill Island when I was just 11. A slight culture shock for an 11 year old, but we’ve never regretted the move. After years working in retail and then construction in the West of Ireland, I decided to go back to college and study interior design.

This brought me to Cork ten years ago and I never left! Interior design was always on my radar and I’m so glad I came to Cork to do it. I found a home from home here, the people are very welcoming and there’s always so much going on in terms of art, music and sport.

After working as a colour consultant for Pat McDonnell Paints for a number of years, I decided to set up on my own. I combine my Cork based interior design consultancy, Ger Cooney Design, with teaching for the Interior Design Academy of Ireland in Dublin.

No two days are alike. A day can start out responding to student emails before visiting a client in their home to select paint colours or floor finishes and end up in a barber shop designing a complete refit.

I’m really fortunate work doesn’t feel like work. I get to meet interesting people, visit amazing spaces and talk design all day. I love architectural conservation and am a member of the Irish Georgian Society. I am fortunate to have worked on some period properties in Cork for residential clients, the Victorian and Georgian styles are a personal favourite. I love the architectural features and generous proportions of the spaces. I feel that maintaining these type of properties is important as there is so much to learn from history.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

My ideal way to spend a Friday night is at a gig or design event. I find music inspiring and motivating. My Dansette record player is always on in the background when I’m working from home. This year I’m hoping to expand my vinyl collection.

Lie ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

Although I’m a night owl, I do try to get up early. If I have a deadline, I find I’m more effective in the morning and always like to get tasks done early.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

Yes a lot of my classes run on Saturdays. It’s a real change of pace from my work week but I’m fortunate I really enjoy teaching. My students are all engaged and enthusiastic about interior design. By the end of a Saturday there’s little voice left but the day has flown.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

It has to be Chicago! There’s such rich architectural heritage and a great music scene. I would love to experience the place, take photographs and immerse myself – well as much as is possible in a weekend. I would have to bring my partner as luckily she has similar interests and loves to shop.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

In the city I have a soft spot for Fitzgerald’s Park. I always find it a great place to take a stroll and enjoy a coffee. For a unique and beautiful setting where you can just switch off it has got to be West Cork. I head every year and still find new walks and beaches to explore. Plus the amazing array of food at Scally’s in Clonakilty is worth the trip alone.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

On rare weekends off I love to head to Achill to spend time with friends and family. It’s so peaceful with amazing landscapes, great walks and endless photo opportunities. Very therapeutic! I’ve recently become an uncle so heading home has taken on a whole new meaning – a little less peaceful but in a great way!

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

I must confess to watching as much soccer as I can fit in. I used to play some 5 a side but because of schedule I don’t get to play as much as I would like. It’s a new year so hopefully I can get back into it.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

Entertained definitely! I tend to eat out and have dinner at friends often. I do like to cook a chicken casserole or often a stir fry.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

For a coffee you can’t beat the flat white and atmosphere at Cafe Depeche. I do try to avoid the homemade chocolates at the till but don’t always succeed.

For lunch I like to go to the Crawford Gallery Cafe, beautiful surroundings and really tasty food.

For something special it’s usually Blackrock Castle. Amazing surroundings again, and good food makes for a great night.

Sunday night comes around too fast — how do you normally spend it?

Sunday for me is important as it’s the day I tend to unwind and relax. I like to watch an old movie, catch up on Netflix episodes or listen to music. An odd design magazine or two might sneak in there but it’s all very chilled.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

Unfortunately early, depending on my schedule, so usually around 6.30 am.

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