Design matters, and in Ireland’s social spaces, it’s now a given that any new hotel, restaurant or bar will have a design gloss that elevates it – not only to Instagram-worthy status – but to create a destination that is beautiful as well as functional. This issue, we meet the women behind some of the country’s most-admired hospitality venues […] Kathy Ryan, who was behind the design of the new Iveagh Garden Hotel” see the full article on

Kathy Ryan, John Duffy
Design Group
“I try to stay away from trends,” says Kathy Ryan, Director of Interior
Design at John Duffy Design Group. “It’s hard not to be influenced by
them but you don’t want something to feel trendy, be on Instagram, and
then be dated two years later. It’s about finding a timeless aesthetic that
feels modern, and classic at the same time.”
That’s the challenge an interior architect faces every time they take on
a hospitality project, and in Ireland, we’re seeing more and more social
spaces with design gloss than ever before. “People are a lot more aware,”
confirms Kathy. “They travel a lot more and experience a lot more abroad.
They come back and they want the same standards. Social media, too, is
having a massive influence on design.”
Developers are driving the design agenda as well. “I think developers
– and hoteliers and bar owners – are definitely travelling more. Some bar
owners are driving it because they’re travelling and getting inspiration
before they open their new premises. Other hoteliers need to be pushed
forward and educated on design and new trends. Not everyone sees the
benefits of upgrading; you do have to push people sometimes, and then
they’ll see a massive change in footfall,” she states.
One of Kathy’s recent projects was the refurb of the Iveagh Garden
Hotel, on Dublin’s Harcourt Street, a two-year-long labour of love that
has had a rapturous reception and is the perfect encapsulation of how
hospitality design influences our own homes. “You can see trends with
hotels: they might be a year or
two ahead of high-street trends.
People are visiting them, then
you see those colours and styles
in high-street stores. They
definitely lead the way in design
and influence trends, for sure.”
Not one to rest on her laurels,
Kathy has been working on
multiple projects including
The Bridge House Hotel in
Tullamore, Galway nightclub
Carbon and Babylon in Swords.
As John Duffy Design Group is
international, she’s been jetting
to the company’s Dubai HQ for
hotel projects in countries like
Ethiopia and Benin.
Next on her agenda is a pair
of hotels on Baggot Street plus
a caf
é in Terenure, and into the
future, Kathy reckons things
will change even more. “Smart,
high-tech everywhere,” she
thinks. “Hotels will be open-plan,
so you’ve got work space, social
space, meeting space, branded
restaurants within the hotel, so
it becomes a big social space as
opposed to just rooms.”