Industry Profile: Luke Irwin

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Irish rug visionary Luke Irwin started his career as a theatre designer. He set up Luke Irwin in 2003, and specialises in the design and manufacture of hand-knotted custom made rugs. 

How did you start out in the industry?

Entirely by accident. In the world of rugs you are either the 18th generation in the family business or it is accidental. I happened to be at a lunch and chatting to a 12-year-old boy who was half Tibetan and from Kathmandu, when he told me that his father was a master weaver that got me thinking. I had been in the theatre, antiques, PR but I really only ever wanted to be a professional footballer.

What’s been your proudest career moment to date?

Two things – having my Doves & Stripes rug given to President Obama as a gift from the Irish Nation. And a very close second was winning the House & Garden Award for the Most Stylish Product at Decorex 2010.

Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I love the schizophrenic nature of the job; you have to be artistic and commercial and each element is as important as the other. I love the interaction with the clients and their engagement in the whole process. Rugs is the only area of the interior where the customer has total control from design to size to colour and textile.

What do you love the most about exhibiting at Decorex?

I love the volume and variety of the punters. It is also wonderful to see all the new products under one roof and the directions in which designers are going.

Did you launch any exciting new products at this year’s show?

We launched three new collections – one entirely in silk, one in Berber and one in Bamboo silk.

Who or what inspires you?

In terms of design I am inspired primarily by nature. But I also live half the week in London where inspiration comes from brickwork, windows, roof slates etc. We have lost the ability to use our eyes.

If we could give you an extra day per week, what would you spend it doing?

Playing with my children.

Where do you live and why?

I live in Dorset because the living is easy.

Can you tell us a bit about your own home?

Our home is near Shaftesbury, it is an old Georgian foundry. The style is broadly eclectic. There are obviously a lot of textiles, quirky furniture, dogs, chickens, ducks and cats.

What are you working on at the moment?

We are working on several different hotel projects, a few yachts, large developments in Brazil and the Bahamas. For each project we generate entirely unique designs and at the same time we are working on our own portfolio collections.

To find out more about Luke and his work, visit the Luke Irwin website.

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